Graduate weapons for attacking the job hunt – analytics
It has arrived! The second in a series of industry specific blogs aimed to equip you with some insider tips on what we look for in top dollar candidates. This week I dissect the desirable characteristics of a budding analyst. But before I do that, I’d like to draw attention to all you readers whose eyes have already glazed over… An internship in analytics may not be something you’ve considered, hell it might be your worst nightmare! But, I urge you to read on. Whilst the industry context may not be relevant to you, there will undoubtedly be some food for thought within the next few hundred words, maybe even skill that you haven’t considered highlighting. Lots of industries require analytics – not just finance! Don’t limit yourself to a whole job market that is crying out for your numerical abilities. After all, you graduates are faced with entering one of the toughest job markets of today – take all the help you can get!
Your degree will be your foundation for success in this industry. A qualification that is relevant to your role is key. We at Inspiring will naturally look for any subject with a high level of mathematical content, with appropriate degrees including: mathematics, actuarial science, physics, statistics, economics, business/management, finance and engineering. But it doesn’t stop there – we place candidates into analytical roles with science degrees and particularly numerical/stats-focused psychology courses.
Computer competency is another necessity; proficiency with appropriate computer software and strong Excel aptitude are basic candidate requirements. More advanced requirements include the ability to program or perform statistical analysis in SQL, SAS or similar data mining language; if you’re capable of this, state it. Why not make a note of relevant modules or achievements where you used the skills – such as Excel Pivot Tables for your dissertation research or stats modules in your psychology or economics degrees.
Naturally, success in your chosen degree is an important factor, in fact an overall history of academic achievement is desirable. Many employers will require you to have a grade A or above in A-Level maths, and as with all cases, strong GCSE and A- Level results will only help to highlight you as an intelligent and consistent individual.
Your skills should complement your degree, pairing together to form a candidate that is not only armed with the knowledge but the capability to apply that knowledge to a working environment. Ask yourselves these questions: are you a problem solver? Do you enjoy challenging your mind with puzzles and games that require logical thinking? Are you driven towards making an impact through your work? Do you enjoy working with others, helping them to solve their problems? Would you describe yourself as curious? If you see yourself ticking these boxes then this is the industry for you. Whilst a mathematical mind and problem solving abilities are desirable, we are always on the lookout for candidates that demonstrate strong communication skills. The ability to translate complex data to an audience that are often not as technically minded as you will be undoubtedly be something that is required in this role.
Targeting your application
Most data analysts often prefer to move on to a specific field soon after beginning work. Ensure you demonstrate an interest in the business/sector you’re applying to. For example, if you’re looking to enter into politics, banking or insurance (which all require lots of analysts!), arm yourself with a good knowledge of that industry, and make sure it’s something the interests you. As with any career, a keen knowledge of what you’re dealing with will be part and parcel of your work.
Why are you different?
In this profession the initial focus is less on what makes you unique and more purely on whether you have the solid qualifications and skills that are necessary to successfully grasp these roles. However, combining this background with evidence of being an all rounded candidate will help your cause greatly. Highlight your favourite sport or a creative hobby, for example, and show that you’re more than just a numerical brainbox. This will reinforce a feeling of faith from employers strengthening your chances against the competition.
Types of questions
Start thinking about analytical problems you might be asked at interview – the answer isn’t important, it’s your reasoning and problem solving skills that you use to tackle the problem that count. Some real-life examples include: how many bottles of hair shampoo were made last year? Or how many cars can you park around the M25? Being prepared for these sorts of challenges will significantly boost your chances of success!
Winning characteristics: Demonstrating a passion, drive and an exceptional willingness to learn will go a long way in this industry. Show that you’re keen to succeed, have a healthy dose of curiosity and a great attitude!