It’s a well-known fact that data analysts enjoy far greater job security than that of most other occupations. But in uncertain economic times, that doesn’t mean your position is guaranteed forever. On a more positive note, it’s likely that advancement opportunities abound. It’s just that taking one requires being better than the other candidates.
So, what makes the best data analyst in the company? Is such a title even worth pursuing? Of course it is. If there’s one thing anyone can benefit from focusing more of their time and energy on, it’s professional development.
Whether you do it to climb the ladder and reap a bigger paycheck or simply for the satisfaction, mastering your career is always a worthwhile endeavour. For data analysts, possessing certain habits and qualities can help them become outstanding in their field. Here are some tips to help you become the best at what you do.
Know Your Company
A common mistake is to believe that, as an analyst, your focus should be solely on the numbers. But what differentiates the most valued analysts in their companies from the rest is their firm understanding of business. Having this, you can uncover more useful insights and identify better ways to implement your findings. Here are some things to consider:
- Customer Level Information: This includes the total number of active customers, month-to-month attrition, segments, repeat customers and so forth.
- Product Information: What is the relationship between customers and your products or services? How does the product or service generate revenue and what are the associated costs?
- Business Strategies: You should know how your company acquires new customers and the channels they use, as well as their customer retention strategies.
Having a deeper understanding of your company is key to providing more value and exceeding expectations. At the same time, your employer will likely notice your elevated level of interest in the organization and keep it in mind when there are advancement opportunities.
Keep it Simple
Data analysts need to be good storytellers. This is because telling a story makes it easier for someone less informed to grasp the idea it contains. In your field, that someone might be the project manager, marketing team or another person outside of your department.
You need to be able to clarify and simplify your findings in a way that makes the information easy for a non-technical audience to understand and act on. Much of this comes with having good communication skills. Just as important is being able to listen so that you can answer any questions and solve any problems related to your work.
Never Stop Learning
The learning phase of your career as a data analyst doesn’t end once you have your degree. In fact, it never does. The most successful analysts participate in what is commonly known as continuous professional development. This term describes the process of actively improving your knowledge and skills.
In this line of work, you’re in the fortunate position where there is a wealth of useful information related to data science and analytics, much of which is freely available on the internet. This includes online courses in a range of relevant topics, which can be found on the likes of Udemy, Coursera, Codecademy and many others.
Being more interactive in nature, they’re a great way to quickly wrap your head around new concepts. But in some situations, a book is the better option. It’s good to know then that there’s plenty of literature that even BA graduates can learn something from. Click here for an extensive list of the best books for analysts.
Practicing continuous professional development will ensure that you always stay ahead of the curve. This is especially important in a field prone to rapid evolution and a constant introduction of new technologies.
As with any career, no man is an island in data analytics. You need to frequently network with the right people. In doing so, you can reap a range of benefits. This includes opening up avenues for new opportunities, be it related to advancement or perhaps even a higher-paying position at a different company.
Networking also helps to build your social intelligence, which is extremely important for any career as well as your personal life. In addition, you can obtain new ideas and insights that can help you do your job better. Perhaps a fellow analyst can let you in on software that’s twice as efficient as the one your department is currently using.
Maybe someone knows a method or technique that can help you perform your job more effectively. That’s not all. By actively seeking out new networking opportunities, you can build your confidence and obtain support from helpful industry contacts. The sky’s the limit here.
After reaching a certain level of proficiency, it can be enticing to remain in your newfound place of comfort. You know what’s going on, you know what lies ahead, and nothing really challenges you. This might feel good, but it’s no way forward. To become better at what you do, you have to actively and frequently escape your comfort zone.
Managers notice people who do this, as the employee is proving that they’re capable of more than what they’re being paid to do – they’re willing to go the extra mile and reach new heights in their career. Be sure to take on new tasks and responsibilities whenever they become available. This will make you a far more likely candidate for promotion.
Know When to Stop
While somewhat of a contrast to the above, it’s worth noting that everyone has their breaking point. Data analytics is often a demanding job that requires some serious mental gymnastics.
There will sometimes be situations where you’ve provided a solution that is, let’s say, 80% satisfactory. It might be tempting to bring that number up, but adding the remaining 20% might cost you an additional 60% of your time and resources. That energy might be better off being invested in subsequent projects or other priorities.
Following the above steps can go a long way in helping you master your career as a data analyst. Keep them in mind when you work and you can expect to see some significant progress in the coming months.