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Distinguish Ourselves with Exceptional Analytical Skills

Can a job candidate with exceptional analytical skills set him/her apart from the sea of applicants? Furthermore, will good analytical skills be able to help people advance their career?

According to Julie Martin, the Controller and Director of Operations at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center¹:   

Analytical skills are very important. Sometimes, it equals to “smart” even though there are smart people who might not have good analytical skills. … People with good analytical skills will be able to present their arguments with numbers and facts, which makes their statements more convincing. … Besides “numbers,” analytical skills can also be referred to a person’s ability of analyzing a complex issue and identifying the possible solutions to the problem(s).

Julie’s words remind me a qualitative study of mine in 2011, in which I asked a group of hospitality recruiters: “What intellectual skills are important in hiring a hospitality senior? Why are they important?” Analytical skills and problem solving skills were mentioned by a few recruiters. They expected college graduates must understand numbers and are able to solve business issues on their own.

I agree. Analytical skills are extremely important, no matter if we are working in a business or a not-for-profit organization. The bottom line is every organization must operate in a budget. Without the ability of generating incomes and controlling expenses, no operations can sustain. As a result, if we want to be a leader of some sort, we must understand how to make informed decisions with supporting data and rational reasons.

Have you ever worked with someone who possesses above-average analytical skills? Does this person look smart to you? Do you prefer to work with this person over others with below-average analytical skills? Why or why not? To think deeper, how can a person develop his/her analytical skills?  

Note:
1. I invited Julie Martin to speak in my Hotel and Resort Operations class last week. I interpret our conversation based on my notes; Julie might not have said those sentences word by word. 

Comments

  1. I agree that analytical and problem solving skills are some of the most important skills to have when entering the work force. Along with having to know your numbers for budget you also need numbers to prove and support your ideas. Simply saying "I think taking away 'dish x' will help our food cost and food waste" is not good enough. Audiences like to see facts to support an idea, if not then it is basically considered invalid.
    These skills are pretty hard to obtain, and individuals should definitely work on them because I think that having the ability to solve problems would definitely allow you to stick out beyond everyone else. In order to improve on these skills, I believe you must practice, practice and practice! Some individuals may possess these skills naturally, but for those of us who were less fortunate, we must learn from experience. With analytical skills, we must train ourselves to remember to always do our research to help support our claims and to allow our audience to believe that we know what we are talking about. With problem solving, I think it is a lot of trial and error; you may not be able to get it right the first time, but you will the second time because you have learned from your previous experience.
    I think that it is extremely important to have these skills because I personally would like to work with individuals who possess these skills rather than without. I feel that with an employee with these skills, you won’t have to be worried about them as much because you trust that they would be able to handle their business, rather than an employee who would constantly run to you for help.

    -Cindy

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  2. Dr. Kwok,

    I find this post to be particularly interesting. The perception that most undergraduate students have upon applying to entry-level jobs is that it is all about the resume. We tend to attempt to squeeze every accomplishment on our resume, making ourselves "look better" on paper. As a result, many of us fail to pay attention to other aspects of the hiring criteria like displaying analytical skills for example.

    I agree with the fact that analytical skills are extremely important. On the other hand, I don't believe that it should be the leading factor for recruitment companies. They are a definite plus to one's overall resume and qualifications, but recruiters should keep in mind that the extent of these intellectual skills varies from person to person. What I am curious about is: How can a recruiter differentiate one applicant from another solely based on their “analytical/intellectual skills?” To me, it is determined by how well one’s resume is written and how well the interview is conducted.

    -Helen Peng

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    Replies
    1. You have made a very good point, Helen. I believe most companies will assess a person's analytical skills when the candidate passes the first round of interview and probably using assessment tests. I also agree with you (even in my research findings) that analytical and intellectual skills are not as critical as other qualifications/competencies --- such as leadership potential, right personality, and relevant work experience. So, you are absolutely right. It seems that a well-rounded person is what companies are looking for.

      Delete
  3. When applying for a hospitality position, I feel as though customer service is considered the number one most important skill to posses. Analytical skills come in when applying for hospitality positions as controllers and managers. I believe they are extremely important for people who are looking to be in the industry long term and wish to move up the ladder in the field.
    I do believe analytical skills make a person who is dealing with money management and budgets more qualified for their position. However, I don't think one can call them smarter. There are many who are extremely street savvy and common sense smart who may make it further in their position because they posses different qualities. It all depends on where one would like to end up in the long term and what positions within their field they would like to obtain.

    Jen Kaplan

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  4. I read somewhere that some colleges don’t always look for potential leaders, but are more focused on looking for followers. I think that it could also be the case for a hiring strategy. Some companies look for the best, but I think companies are more like to look for someone that are experienced, but still need guidance from them to be able to be great in the position that they choose. I think having analytical skills are very important because people with good analytical skills will be able to present their arguments with facts and would have more convincing statements because they are more likely to be knowledgeable of what they are presenting than someone who just wings it.
    - Clea Nievera

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  5. In today's world I feel as if when coming out of college, college students have more expectations as they once did. College students base their college life on working towards getting as much experience as they can in order to put their experiences on their resume. As a college student I believe that if I dont have a 4.0 GPA I must have to proove myself in a different way to job seekers so I try to get as many experiences as possible However, this article confuses me because as a college student with all my experiences how am I supposed to prove that I have a background in problem solving skills and analytical skills. Analytical and problem solving are some of the most important skills and I believe the only way to apply those skills is to prove yourself in the workforce rather than writing it on a resume. I also agree that analytical and problem solving should not be the sole reason as to why one person gets hired over another person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is interesting that a research with about 4,000 college graduates suggest that quite a few recruiters (include all disciplines) tend not to hire students with a perfect GPA. For nutrition students, however, I believe a high GPA is important in job placement. For hospitality students, I've found in my own research that leadership and relevant job experience seem to be more important than a high GPA - recruiters also expect students have a 3.0 or above but not a 4.0.

      Regarding to your question of demonstrating a job candidate's analytical and problem solving skills in the interviewing process (we can go over it in more detail in class later), companies can ask the candidate to do an assessment test, which could have an analytical focus. They can also ask candidates behavioral questions during the interview --- e.g., what was the biggest challenge you faced when you did so-and-so? Or, what were the difficulties you faced when you were doing so-and-so? How did you deal with such challenge or difficulties? Based on your answers of these kind of behavioral questions on how your dealt with the real life or work-related issues, they will have an idea of how you handle yourself in front of problems and issues.

      Delete
  6. I definitely think that intelligence, analytical skills, and people skills are separate. There is some overlap, but you can have one without the other. They all take practice. I guess it depends on the company but it is probably less important to be "smart". You do learn things in college but I feel that college is mostly about experience. Instead of sitting in a classroom simply learning about a concept and trying to memorize it, actually going out and experiencing it firsthand is the best way to retain the information and really understand what's going on.
    When hiring, I would take a look at the individual's unique skills and even if they don't have the whole package, you can put a team together that will get the work done efficiently. Some people are left brained and some are right and much more will get done if you have some of both.
    When it comes to service, the number one goal is to please the customer so you should be able to communicate efficiently with them.
    I have personally worked with managers who were not up to the standard of "smart" but they got great reviews from customers. I have also had managers who were very intelligent on random matters but awkward and quiet and not authoritative and therefore they were not good leaders.

    -Emily Kratz

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  7. I agree that analytic skills and intellectual skills are important and I think many companies would have interesting on whether the candidate has analytic skills. In this way, I believe that analytical skills are extremely important, especially for managers or employees who are dealing with money. However, on the other hand, I dont think people who have analytic skills look smarter. In my points of view, a company needs many kinds of people, some people are full of experiences and some are full of analytic skills. These two kinds of employees should work together in order to run a successful business. Besides, look "smarter" does not mean this person is really smarter than others, like Dr.Kwok's previous comment said he found that for hospitality students, high GPA does not mean they are smarter, but leadership and relevant job experience seem to be more important!
    NSD 314---Di Yang

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is true that we need to find our niche. If analytical skill is not a person's strength, s/he can still be very successful because of her/his other strengths.

      Delete
  8. Analytical skills are an important part of any job in any field. There will always be problems to solve. I agree that this quality would be attractive to any employer. I think what would make an applicant stand out would be if he or she was able to show that they have those skills during the initial interview or resume before any assessment test could be given. Analytical skills are not the only measure of smart. Someone with degrees and experience could easily learn on the job how to effectively problem solve. Even outside of the work place I find that ability to apply logical thinking and to visualize and articulate problems and solutions very helpful when doing group projects in school.

    Ali Pregent

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  9. In my recent job as a Busser I ran into my first experience with a co-worker who had very high analytical skills. Their job performance was considerably high, as if the normal job operations were done with common sense and very little error. His leadership was very high in skill and was very friendly with how he helped train the ones who worked under him. Through this experience, I do prefer to work with a person with high analytical skills because it doesn't only help the job's reputation, but it helps others improve their work quality. I believe one can develop his analytical skills by being very observant of your daily routine. An enhanced knowledge of your surroundings, plus the experience of perceived analytics will help build ones analytical skills (over time).

    -Drew Pawlan

    ReplyDelete
  10. At my last job, working in sales and marketing for Andersen Windows, there was this one guy on my team, Ethan, who had been with the company longest and had tremendous powers of analysis. He was able to crunch numbers, pull stats for comparison and sell windows like it was nobody's business. When I started I shadowed him a few times in the field and he was able to guess windows age, brand, condition and issues before he even talked to the homeowner. While talking to homeowners he listened closely to everything they said and addressed every concern, Ethan consistently ran more demos and sold more windows than anyone at the company. Watching his commission flow on the stats boards was always motivation for me to try harder and sharpen my own game. Ethan didn't necessarily look "smart" but he certainly didn't look dumb either, he always appeared rather calm and collected. I prefer working in any environment where there is something to be learned or observed so I definitely enjoy working with analytical and skilled people. I think one can deepen analytical skills by really focusing in on tasks at hand and simply by practicing their craft and really honing it. Anyone I have ever worked with who was highly analytical was usually like that innately but they were always experienced and familiar with the territory that came with the job. - Bill Visconte

    ReplyDelete

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