As you are most likely already aware, the job market is such a competitive place to be in. You are up against people with 20+ years of experience, or people who have been working within a company for years who have already formulated a bond with the industry, making your outside application void. So, if you have your heart set on becoming a Data Analyst and do not have any experience to back your professionalism up, how on earth can you get someone to hire you?
The truth is that it will probably be hard. But if you are serious about starting your career as a Data Analyst, knowing the ideal skills, qualifications, and expectations are the tickets for you to get your first role with no prior experience.
What Skills Do You Need?
A data analyst is someone who seeks answers to specific challenges or questions that pertain to the business. They answer questions such as “How can we increase customer retention?” To do this, they collect/extract data from respected sources, organize it, and analyze it using proper techniques to find their answers. They scope out patterns, trends, and when finished, they should be able to display their findings and recommendations in the form of graphs or charts to present to the stakeholders. So, what skills are needed to become this kind of person?
- Strong communication, presentation, and collaboration skills
- High problem-solving skills
- Excellent researcher
- Pays close attention to detail
- An affinity for numbers
- Organized and meets deadlines
- Knows how to navigate through Microsoft Software
- Understands the fundamentals of programming and querying languages, including SQL and Oracle
- Solid foundation of data profiling
- Knows how to deploy commercially viable statistical models
The Starting Line Tips for Those with No Experience
- Get A Degree – Let’s face it, degrees matter in society, and if you want to get a foot in the door to become a Data Analyst, you have to put in the educational back-bone work to get started. Get A Degree in Math, Statistics, Computer Science, Finance, Economics, Engineering, or any other related field to qualify for an entry-level position. Keep in mind that most of these roles require at least a Bachelor’s degree.
- Sharpen Your SQL Understanding – SQL and data analytics go hand in hand. It is semantically easy to grasp and can be utilized to access vast amounts of data right where it is stored, meaning analysts will not have to copy the data into other applications. In other words, knowing the SQL language can both improve business productivity and provide valuable insights to managers. So, having that you are proficient in this area can really make you stand out from the competition.
- Get Familiar – Make sure that you are familiar with the data analyst culture, such and the key tools and principles they use. For example, get immersed in the theory behind data analytics and work with some common data analytics tools so you can become comfortable with it. Read about the different types, such as predictive, diagnostic, descriptive, and prescriptive, and get a good grasp on the techniques, including cluster analysis, factor analysis, cohort analysis, and regression analysis. Knowing these core fundamentals will really give you a leg up during the interview process and can land you your first role that you can build experience from.
- Enhance Your Soft Skills – For instance, let’s say that you are great at communicating and researching, but your presentation skills need some work. Take the time to work on soft skilled areas that you can improve on and hone in on them. If you have all the essential soft skills on your resume, it will give you a significant advantage.
- Start Networking Like Crazy – The golden rule for pretty much every industry is to cultivate a secure network and making connections with other professionals. You can reach out to people on LinkedIn, for example. Start connecting with hiring managers now and other like-minded people because that can be a prime way to achieve potential career prospects.
Knowing the career path that you want to pursue is great, but now it’s time to take the right steps to get there. As any person who has minimal to no experience in the industry they want to get into, it can feel daunting. This is especially true when every posted position required 5+ years of experience, and you don’t have it.
But even as frustrating as it may seem, there are ways that you can make yourself marketable and land your first Data Analyst role that can allow you to start building upon your experience to earn more opportunities in the future. Start with the tips provided above to get you started and consider investing in a mentor or career coach for more direct support. Whatever you do, if you put in the work and have the passion for it, you will land that dream job someday, and you will be thankful for your perseverance you did to get there.