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Job descriptions typically list the soft skills the candidate needs alongside the necessary hard skills for the role. Analytical thinking often crops up as a soft skill requirement for a wide variety of roles in all sorts of fields, from scientific research to business, finance and banking, IT, engineering, and more.

However, analytical thinking skills are not just useful for fitting a candidate profile for a job spec; these skills will enable you to excel in a role when you apply them correctly.

But what exactly are analytical thinking skills, and how do you improve yours? We’ll take you through all that you need to know to become a better analytical thinker.

How to sharpen your analytical thinking skills

Before we begin, let’s first define analytical thinking.

What are analytical thinking skills?

Analytical thinking involves using logic and linear, methodical processes to break down complicated information into small, easily understandable parts. This skill enables a person to spot and solve difficult problems while looking at the data that is in front of them.

There is a difference between analytical thinking and critical thinking, even though these are sometimes used interchangeably. Analytical thinking can be a part of critical thinking, which is a more holistic aspect of the thinking process. Critical thinking takes and uses information and findings to infer wider meaning, interpret and evaluate information to create solutions, and more.

Analytical thinking also involves using hard facts from information to support a verdict or conclusion, whilst critical thinking uses an opinion on the information at hand to draw a conclusion.

Now, let’s see which professions in the finance and banking spheres most need candidates with analytical thinking skills…

What kinds of jobs in finance and banking require analytical thinking?

Roles in which analytical thinking skills are crucial include:

  • Analysts: Quantitative, Data, Computer Systems, Financial, Research, Business
  • Accountants
  • Software Developers and Software Engineers
  • Manager, Project Manager
  • Actuaries
  • Technical Writers
  • Economists
  • Logistics roles
  • IT roles
  • Risk Managers

To name but a few.

And now…

Tips to improve your analytical thinking skills

Know the steps and use them.

Approaching work or a problem using analytical thinking looks like the following:

  1. Identify the problem or topic
  2. Research: compile and collect relevant information using observation and testing
  3. Use logic and rational reasoning to assess and process the data
  4. Generate solutions to the issue or gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the topic
  5. Based on what you now understand and know, test out the answer to the problem or your new ideas
  6. Look at what worked and what didn’t to create an understanding and use what you know

Hone and embrace your creativity

Even though analytical thinking involves drawing conclusions based on facts from information, it requires a creative mind to solve problems by thinking up great solutions, as well as to capture and describe the bigger picture surrounding the smaller pieces of information.

Do your homework

Learn more about your subject matter to gain better knowledge of it; you can use this deeper understanding to help you solve problems around the topic analytically.

Ask a professional for advice

Find a mentor, network, or just seek advice from a professional in your field of work (or the field you hope to enter) or your boss, and learn from them. Ask them how they developed their analytical thinking skills and how they apply them in their work. They may have some helpful information for you.

Practice, practice, practice

Keep going through the steps to solve problems using analytical thinking and trying to apply an analytical thinking approach in your present job or studies.

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