1 Skill Most New Data Analysts Don't Have

data analyst skill missing

You’ll learn a lot of skills when you’re preparing for a data analyst job. No matter the path you take - whether college, a bootcamp, self-directed learning - there’s one skill that tends to be the most lacking in new analysts.

Let’s cut right to the point - 

The main data analyst skill most NEW analysts struggle with the most is finding and addressing business problems. 

Why is this such a common problem?

How can you avoid it?

Training ≠ Application

When I say finding and addressing business problems is the biggest skill new analysts are lacking, it usually comes down to not knowing how to connect skills to problems. 

If you’re getting ready to start a data analyst role - or prepping for it - you’ve probably already built a significant skill base. You know how to code or picked a no code analytics tool that you know well. You’ve built your statistical skills. You’ve worked on data visualization and communication. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to tie all those skills into business situations though. While you’ll sometimes perform exploratory analysis as a data analyst, you’ll very often be looking for insights into specific problems or issues. In the majority of cases, you’re usually working on issues that are costing the business money, reducing their profits, or requiring more time than would be ideal. 

How do you connect your skills to the business? 

As you work on different projects as you build skills, take time to consider how your analysis is meaningful for a business. Is it meaningful?

Is there a different approach you can take which would make the work applicable to a business?

Most of the time, this involves moving from summarizing and reporting to finding recommendations for improvement. This can apply even if you’re working with data that doesn’t immediately seem like it could tie to a business issue.

For instance, many people like to analyze their own personal data using the skills they’re building. It’s relevant info that’s easy to access. This could be data from a fitbit or other fitness tracker.

Beyond figuring out how many calories you’re burning each day, what the averages are each week, etc, how do you look at it like a business problem?

Treat it as an opportunity to optimize.

Do you want to be hitting a certain target each day or week?

What changes can you make to do this?

What can you learn from the data? 

You could also create a forecast. Do you expect this to change or stay the same in the future? Will your data vary by season? Perhaps lower in the winter when you’re more likely to be indoors and higher during the summer when it’s nicer to be outside?

This connection of your skills to a business problem or through a business lens will also help you create a much stronger resume and give you more to talk about in a job interview.