In our data-rich society, corporations of all types and sizes recognize the importance of utilizing information to understand their past and shape their future. Many organizations, however, ultimately fail to reap the powerful benefits of analytics as a business tool because, they believe, their analysts have failed to deliver valuable, pertinent insights from the data that can drive business-critical strategies and success.
The analytics project that once seemed so promising is forgotten. Was it management’s inattention? Lack of budget? Faulty data or a flawed hypothesis? Or were the analysts on the project not really analysts at all?
Analytics is an increasingly attractive option for those looking to make a career change. Jobs are plentiful and the salaries are good. A dynamic is created wherein some hopefuls may have more desire to be in analytics than they have aptitude. Employers, of course, bear the responsibility of assembling an analytics team of quality, well-trained analysts. But job seekers share in the process of ensuring a good match for both sides.
In my years in analytics training and consulting, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of the job seeker’s role in making a good match. If you are considering a career transition to analytics, consider these key requirements before taking the next step.
- Analytics aptitude is a must for success. Analytics isn’t for everyone. Your friend may love her analytics job, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Having an aptitude for analytics is a viable predictor for both your success in and happiness with the job. An innate ability to think analytically is critical and, fortunately, easy to discern. This quick test allows you to determine your analytics aptitude. If you score 16 or above in this test, you would likely be happy being an analyst.
- Analytics skill development is not optional. Having analytics aptitude does not automatically equate to being able to perform analytics to drive business forward. Once you know you have an aptitude, invest in developing hands-on business analytics skills as a bare minimum for any analyst or analytical role. Additionally, acquire predictive analytics skills and A/B Testing for pure analyst roles. Training options abound to obtain these skills. But focus on programs taught by those with corporate analytics experience that give you hands-on training with real data and real-world business problems.
- The easiest transition is one that’s familiar—your current company or industry/function. Many seeking to transition to analytics careers are inclined to change not only their career, but also their industry—even if they have spent many years there gathering knowledge and close contacts. However, be aware: looking outside your current company or industry significantly decreases your odds of finding a job. If you have been a project manager in manufacturing as part of IT, investigate transitioning to an analytics career there. If that’s not possible, then look for an analyst job in your industry and perhaps IT. Once you have transitioned successfully to an analytics role and have been there for a year or so, the whole world of analytics opens up for you and you can then transition out of your industry and/or your function.
- Don’t leave your current job to transition. I can’t stress this enough. Your job search may be lengthy and not having a job creates undue pressure on you and your loved ones. Additionally, if you currently work with data in some capacity, learning analytics while having that access allows you to practice and build your skills. As a career transition mentor, I know it is possible to make the change to analytics within about 6 months while having a full time job. Have patience.
- Yes, you need to redo your resume, completely. You as a project manager must show different skills than you as an analyst. Start from scratch and build your resume while keeping an eye on the roles to which you are applying. More guidance on creating a good resume is available in my blog.
More insights can be found in my book, “Acing Your Analytics Career Transition”.
Piyanka Jain is the author of the Amazon bestseller book Behind Every Good Decision and President and CEO of Aryng, an analytics consulting company focused on driving business impact with data. As a highly regarded industry thought leader in analytics, she writes for publications including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and InsideHR. She has been a featured speaker at American Marketing Association conferences, Predictive Analytics World, Growth Hacker TV, GigaOm, Google Analytics User Conference, and Modern Workplace. In 15+ years as an analytics leader, she has demonstrated more than $180M impact on the businesses she’s served. As a gifted problem solver, she seeks out patterns and insights to drive change in her clients’ organizations and impact top levers of business. She considers customer satisfaction, empowerment and positive engagement as the highest rewards, and dollar impact as a natural consequence. Her best-selling book ‘Behind Every Good Decision’ is an actionable guide for business managers on data-driven decision-making through business analytics.
She has two Masters Degrees with theses involving applied mathematics and statistics. A hiker, runner and yogi, she lives in Sunnyvale, California with her husband Parth and daughter Jia.