The Top Five Traits of Successful Data Analysts



Data makes the world go round. So long as we have the experts available who can interpret it. Businesses rely on Data Analysts to make the connections they need between their customers, their products, processes, inputs, and the market, using the data being generated. Using the insights and information Data Analysts extract from the data, organisations can then make informed decisions to drive their business forward.

So, what do companies look for when hiring people for Data Analyst jobs?

Business Knowledge

It should perhaps come as no surprise that high on the priority list is business acumen. Before you understand the data, you must understand its context. Without fully knowing the business, its strategies, where it sits in the market, its USP versus its competitors, the dynamics within the business, the critical processes in the organisation and where its vulnerabilities and shortcomings are; any data coming out of the business will be meaningless.

Realistically you can’t be expected to walk in knowing everything from day one, but a big part of working in Data Analysis requires you to grow your business knowledge through the work you’re doing and the people you connect with. The better you understand the business and its many working parts, the better able you’ll be able to navigate its data sets and their potential impact on the organisation.

Think Outside the Box

Applying both lateral and critical thinking to data analysis is highly important. You are both researcher and investigator so should be able to explore the data from every angle. A good Data Analyst must be systematic in his or her approach to that deep dive into the data and think beyond the task at hand. Utilising visual analytics is an efficient tool to help you view the data through a different lens and ultimately get you to your conclusions more effectively.

Being able to visualise the data is a big part of this as it will in turn help you illustrate your findings clearly in your report. More than just numbers, a Data Analyst who can tell a story with the data will better be able to help others understand it.

The Art of Communication

Being a strong communicator equates to your relationships with the people you work with in the business, your stakeholders and colleagues. Your ability to be clear, direct and easily understood is a trait that will advance your career in data analysis. In the relationships you build, the reports you submit and in your ability to present your findings verbally to the business. Knowing how to explain your findings effectively is part of the exchange but equally being able to listen is just as important. This circles back to how well you understand your business and your stakeholders, you need to anticipate their needs as this will help raise your credibility and brand internally.

Technical Understanding

For Data Analyst careers of course, technical know-how is key. You’re tasked with connecting software, systems and data in order to extract meaningful insights and you need the skills to do it. Data Analysts must bring a natural curiosity and enthusiasm for really getting into the nooks and crannies of technical understanding to truly understand the data in all its aspects. Beyond that those working in data analysis should commit to continuous self-education in order to grow their skill set and stay abreast of technological developments and trends.

Mathematical Mind

Working in Data Analysis requires someone who is fluent in patterns. Your work will see you ploughing through multiple data sets within which you will be expected to identify trends. Good Data Analysts will also be able to identify the catalysts for those trends, the insights from which are invaluable to the business they’re working for.

That combination of technical know-how, business savvy and creative thinking will make you stand out in the Data Analysis market for hiring managers looking for those winning traits.


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