Becoming An Analyst


This article is for those who are curious about a career change into data, or are following the path and wish to gain more insight into obtaining your first job in the industry. I will guide through the skills and networking that I used to stand out among entry-level applicants. There are many ways to enter a job in data; I will be detailing my personal approach.

I studied A Sport’s degree at university. After my degree I had sales and personal training jobs mostly, however I wanted something different and with a clearer progression.

Analyst roles require being numerical, logical, business orientated and technologically minded; which I decided was a strong suit of mine.  After encouragement from friends in the industry, and considering the fact that the data industry is booming, I decided that I would learn above and beyond all the necessary skills to prepare myself for a data analyst/reporting role.

What I Learned

I will provide a checklist for excel skills to learn that I used, although there are other platforms which are commonly used in businesses and are worth learning but not essential – such as Tableau, Power BI and Qlik.

I will also touch on other additional skills that you may want to pick up.

Learn Excel

This is a checklist containing all excel skills that I learned:

  • Sum ifs, average ifs, count ifs
  • Sort data
  • Filter data
  • Ctrl shift arrow
  • Remove duplicates
  • Freeze panes
  • Vlookup, Hlookup
  • Conditional formatting
  • Pivot tables (average, count, sum, percentage, max/min)
  • Slicers
  • Year/Month/Week/Day columns
  • Sumproduct
  • Graphs (with secondary axis)
  • Data validation
  • Spark lines
  • Changing pivot data source
  • Protect workbook/worksheet
  • Nested if statements
  • Drop down list
  • LEN
  • CTRL f + h
  • Named ranges


Once I had mastered Excel skills I practiced making dashboards and utilised all of the methods above to compact the data onto a single page so that no scrolling was required.

Research principles of design and what makes effective dashboards; such as making them interactive and automated. Here is an example I made:

Here is a download link to the example dashboard:

Spend some time looking at other examples of interactive excel dashboards for inspiration.

LinkedIn & Looking For Jobs

At this point I was skilled at using BI platforms, handling data and creating interactive automated dashboards. I then built a strong LinkedIn profile to boost my network and views. This will increase chances of being selected for an interview.  Bring your CV up to date, with technical skills listed. It is useful to write a thoughtful cover letter.

I then published an example automated dashboard on LinkedIn as an effective way of demonstrating my skills. Produce a report using any good free data sets and make it look and run flawless. Publish this so that recruiters and interviewers can see your work.

I found there is a high demand and large quantity of vacancies for this kind of role. I made sure my search was broad and detailed, and spent most days of the week actively searching. While it may take some time to get attention, soon enough I found that due to my extensive excel skill range that I listed earlier, I received plenty of positive feedback and interviews. I was able to answer questions of my commercial experience by showing my example work, Excel skills, domain knowledge and positive attitude.


It is important to remember that a large part of the role will involve commercial acumen and business skills. You must build domain knowledge of the industry to ensure that the insight you have produced adds tangible value. This includes keeping in mind points such as corporate strategy and stakeholder requirements. Research the domain you are applying for and understand what you are trying to achieve for the company with your analysis.

Keep applying, stay motivated and determined, and you will get success with patience. If you have any further questions or feedback let me know in the comments section.

Inspector’s Notes

If you would like to learn more about data analysis take a look at the following.

Additional Skills:

  • SQL
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Data Cleansing
  • Tableau
  • Qlik
  • Power BI
  • R, Python
  • Adobe colour wheel

Useful Links:

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