It’s time to move on from your lackluster job and enter a new career that’s a better fit for your natural talents. You’ve had your eye on an exciting technology career for a while, particularly as a data analyst.
Even though it sounds appealing to process data and uncover meaningful insights, you’re still not sure if a data analyst career is right for you. What if you don’t have what it takes to be successful at processing and analyzing data?
We spoke to real-life data analysts who shared their insights on soft skills that make you successful in the field. Who knows? You might already have the hidden talents that will make you a star data analyst!
You should consider a data analyst career if...
1. You understand the way people think
You’ve always been able to intuitively read people in a way that doesn’t always make sense to others. When your friend is contemplating a big decision that many don’t immediately understand, your empathy allows you greater understanding and gives you the ability to see it through their eyes. You have a unique insight into the way people think, and it just might give your career a boost.
Having a knack for psychology might not seem like an obvious skill for a data analyst, but understanding how people think can be a huge benefit in this career, according to Josh Braaten of Brandish Insights.
“It helps us know which biases to avoid and be aware of in our analyses,” Braaten says. “It also helps us understand data better when we're better in touch with the human behavior that produces it.”
2. You’re a storyteller
At parties, you can always be found at the center of a group with friends hanging on your every word. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about something funny, a dramatic interaction or an everyday occurrence—you’re a brilliant storyteller who can make any scenario worth listening to.
Believe it or not, your ability to spin a good yarn is a sign that you could be a standout data analyst. The core of a data analyst’s job is to take cold, hard numbers and turn them into valuable information that has meaning for your company.
“Data is useless if those who need it can't understand it,” says Jerome Tennille, senior manager of impact analysis and assessment at a national nonprofit organization. “Regardless of what industry you're in, the way in which data is presented will be a key factor in how it's received and understood.”
3. You’re naturally curious
Your mother may have called you “Curious George” as a child, and you can often be found digging deep into Google searches–seeking more information to satisfy your curiosity about every subject under the sun.
This need to understand more will come in handy as a data analyst. Continuously questioning makes analysts more likely to discover new processes or answers that had previously been unknown, according to Tennille.
“This trait also spurs a sense of wanting to know more in a profession where the landscape of the job is ever changing,” Tennille adds. “Curiosity prods those in our field to continue to research and find that unknown.”
4. You’re a details-person
You’re so good at catching misspelled words and misplaced commas that you could have a second job as lieutenant of the grammar police. You always know how much is in your checking account–down to the penny. Your friends may think it’s weird that you’re so precise, but you can’t help it. Being detail-oriented is just part of who you are.
This trait comes in handy in plenty of careers, and data analyst makes the list. Data can only help you make strategic decisions if it’s accurate, and that means constantly being on the lookout for even the smallest errors.
“Data quality issues can go unnoticed for a while and instantly render any finding useless,” says Marcus McCarthy, marketing analyst at Delphic Digital. “An analyst then needs to be 100 percent correct every time—a tall order that requires a meticulous mindset.”
5. You’re an organizational wizard
You’re the one your friends call when they need help organizing the garage or cleaning out their closets. Ever since you were a kid, you’ve been keeping things neat and tidy, from perfectly stacked books in your locker to a bedroom that’s always spic and span.
You may have thought your organizational skills were only good for keeping your house presentable, but they could actually be a benefit to your data analyst career. There’s always the potential to lose a vital piece of information or get your numbers mixed up when you’re working with a lot of data. Staying organized can help you avoid these pitfalls.
“A well-organized workflow and working environment helps you become more effective in your job,” says Akos Boros, project manager at online analytics tool Capturly. “As a data analyst, when you work with tons of tables, [staying organized] will not just help you to do your job faster, but it will also make it smoother as well.”
6. You’re good with people
Whether it’s reading between the lines to uncover what’s really bothering your friend or getting to know the new neighbors at a backyard barbeque, you’re an excellent people person. People are drawn to your ability to have a good conversation and to truly listen when it’s their turn to talk.
You may think of data analysis as being solitary work, but that’s not the case. You’ll be interacting with others as you gather information, collaborate on projects and present your findings to management. Your people skills will come in handy in many aspects of your data analyst career.
“Analysts use communication skills to understand the needs of the business and communicate insights from their work,” Braaten says. “Great analysts are able to communicate complex data in approachable terms.”
Follow the signs
If this list sounds familiar, you may have the makings of a future data analyst. Discover more about a data analyst career in our article, “What Does a Data Analyst Do? Exploring the Day-to-Day of This Tech Career.”