How to Find a Top Data Analyst. Psst…Look Inside

By Shannon Murphy

As businesses venture more deeply into data analytics, building a team of data scientists and data analysts is a top priority. But that’s a daunting task given industry statistics show these resources are scarce and expensive.

How can you ensure your next hire for the role of data analyst is not only skilled in the technical aspects, but also knows your business, fits into your culture and gets along with the team?

Instead of looking externally, try developing from within.

Why Develop Your Data Analyst From Within?

Those in search of a data analyst typically fall into one of two categories:

  1. Data scientist exhausted from the ETL process (extract, transform and load) and desperate for assistance.
  2. CXO or hiring manager looking to build or enhance a data analytics team.

If you are in the first category and are desperately trying to find someone who can do some data wrangling and also understands your business – LOOK INSIDE your organization.

If you are in the second group and want to create or expand your data analytics team and are worried about the unknown risk of a new hire – LOOK INSIDE your organization.

Employees with proven track-records in your company right now are who you should be looking at. These individuals are committed to the organization, fit the corporate culture and have the business acumen often missing from recent college graduates.

Plus, top performers may be looking for a new challenge, the opportunity to gain additional skills and dive into the world of analytics. With the right training, your marketing research analyst, customer support specialist and many others could be ready to take their data skills to the next level.

4 Essential Skills of a Data Analyst

When looking at internal candidates to take on a data analyst role, look for these skills:

1. Attention to Detail

An acute attention to detail is required for all individuals working with data. Data is a precise science. Paying attention to each variable and component of the analysis is critical for delivering correct conclusions.

2. Curiosity

All levels on the data analytics team should have an innate curiosity and drive to answer questions. A curious mind will think critically when viewing numbers and trends and will be able to detect new meaning to add insight to the business.

3. Communication Skills

The ability to communicate with all levels in an organization is crucial. The candidate should be able to understand the data scientist and engineers and also the business questions being asked. They must be skilled in communicating their findings back to the data scientists and management using not only language but also visualizations that are specific and meaningful.

4. Basic Understanding of Statistics

The analyst will need to have familiarity with statistical and mathematical applications in business. Understanding the importance of the maximum, minimum, mean, variance, deviation, etc., is important when dealing with numbers and trying to tell a story.

By building data analytics capability with employees committed to the organization who “fit” in the culture, you will rapidly have a Pricing Analytics team, a Fraud Detection Analytics team, or a Customer Segmentation Analytics team (as examples) to add value to your organization.

So instead of making a risky investment in onboarding, why not pick people with a proven track record in your business and give them the tools and know-how to obtain, scrub, explore, model and interpret data?

When you develop from the inside, you can rapidly develop the data analytics team your organization is seeking.

Shannon Murphy has her Master’s in Data Analytics and is the Lean Method Group’s Data Analytics Product Manager.