Growth Hack Your Career — 4 Tips and Tricks for New Analysts

I thought I’d offer some career tips and tricks for those of you just starting out who might be doing their fair share of, shall we say, grunt work (hey, everyone was there at some point). Using these tips could save you precious time in your trajectory up the analytics career ladder.

1) Never miss an opportunity to look for insights

You might just be running and sending out that same old report every day, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t look for insights in those apparently ho-hum reports. I distinctly remember in my first job as an assistant media buyer looking at the ratings sheets and learning all that I could about, say, why the CBS affiliate in New Orleans was so dominant. Embrace your inner curiosity (that IS why you became an analyst, right?) and look for any opportunity to answer a “why” question, or at least ask someone who might know how to answer that why question.

Bonus tip: look for anomalies in your reports where numbers were either up or down more than normal. This is typically where “the gold” is found, as big swings in numbers typically show that something totally crazy happened!

2) Learn how to meet stakeholder demands

Since chances are that you’re the go-to report creator, hone up on your ability to really learn about what your stakeholders and clients are looking to learn in their reports. Ask good, deep, probing questions about why these reports are being created, how they help the person do their job better, and what kinds of decisions will be made based on the report. This is good practice for later on in your career when you’ll be asked to take stakeholder demands and turn those in projects whose purpose is to provide insights and recommendations. Also, empathy (that is, the ability to step into someone else’s shoes) is one of the key ingredients to being a great analyst, so get your practice early on in your career to get a leg up.

3) Find a mentor and learn the ropes

When you’re beginning your career as an analyst, so many things are new to you, including actually being a productive member of an organization. That’s why it’s key to find someone that you respect and admire to help you avoid some pitfalls and grow at an accelerated rate. This person doesn’t need to be an analyst themselves, but should be someone more senior who has gone through similar trials that you are going through now. Areas where you can learn from the best include analysis and insights style, presentation skills, and overall politics (you may not have to play them now, but you most certainly will at some point).

4) Learn as many tools as you can

Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE judging analysts’ career potential based on whether or not they have a background in this tool or that. For me, all of the soft skills and passion for analytics work takes precedence over whether you’ve had experience working on different tools. However, I am willing to admit that I am an anomaly in this type of thinking and that, for better or worse, your value (at least among the majority of recruiters) is based on whether you’ve “worked” with certain tools (for me, experience with a tool doesn’t necessarily mean mastery, but that’s for another blog post). So take your early career opportunity to get hands on experience with as many different analytics tools as you can, and learn what tools are best for different types of analysis.

Is there anything I’m missing here? Sound off in the comments to give advice for the newbies out there.

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