We live and work today in a data-driven economy. Data is everywhere and is continuously collected from business, social, shopping, and personal activities. Successful companies thrive on data – something that was once relegated to record keeping, but today is at the heart of management and decision-making processes. That means that virtually every job in business is now a data-centric job, and that the best applicants are those who exhibit data literacy and data skills.
Your career growth in any business field is now accelerated or inhibited by your ability to work with data. The days of data as an IT specialty are gone, and the line between business and IT is blurred. Data skills are essential to be effective in finance, sales, marketing, operations, customer support, human resources, and many more functions and roles. No matter what your field, and no matter if you’re seeking a new job or growth in with your current employer, you need to show data skills in your IT professional resume to get those growth opportunities.
What do you do, then, if you think you’re lacking in data skills? Begin by taking inventory. You probably have experience working with data that you don’t recognize as data skills. If you have worked with spreadsheets, then you have worked with data. The things that you have done in Excel translate directly to data skills, things that you have not yet done are opportunities to develop new skills.
All of this work is done in preparation for creating your IT professional resume and LinkedIn profile. Using the below phrases will help you create keyword rich documents that get you noticed.
If you have –> you have experience with
- Entered data into rows and columns –>Data Collection
- Formatted and sorted data –> Data Preparation
- Found and fixed data errors –> Data Cleansing
- Calculated totals and averages –> Data Summarization
- Used complex formulas –> Data Derivation and Transformation
- Used array formulas and pivot tables –> Data Structuring
- Used trace dependents and precedents –> Troubleshooting and Debugging
- Linked cells across multiple worksheets –> Data Relationships
- Created charts and graphs –> Reporting and Visualization
- Written your own macros –> Programming with Data
- Found patterns and correlations –> Data Analysis
- Used add-ins like QI Macros and XLMiner –> Analytics
Use the table above to make a quick inventory of your experience working with data. You’re almost certain to have experience in some of these twelve skill areas. Where you have experience, be sure to highlight it on your IT professional resume, in your LinkedIn profile, and as a topic of discussion in interviews.
Next look at the areas where you don’t have experience. Consider these areas as opportunities to develop new skills. The table of experiences is organized with more basic skills at the top and more advanced at the bottom. Look at your range of skills and consider where your most pressing gaps exist. Don’t look for quantum leap from data collection to advanced analytics. But do take the next logical step in growing your data competencies.
If you’re an Excel novice whose experience is limited to data collection and some data preparation, consider taking an Excel class to get to the next level. There are many good, low-cost public classes both in classroom settings and online. If you’re well down the path of data structures and relationships, then press on to visualization and analysis. A very good, low-cost starting point in this area is the book Analyzing Business Data with Excel by Gerald Knight, which offers clear explanations and many exercises to practice on your own time and on your own computer.
Finally, with your data skills now recognized, connect them with your business skills. If, for example, your field is finance you can describe how the right data, organized and reported in the right ways helps to predict and manage cash flow. If you’re in facilities management, describe the important role of data skills in planning, scheduling, preventive maintenance, etc. Whatever your field may be, it is certain to have data dependencies. We live in an era where every business job is a data-centric job.
About the Author–
Jennifer Hay writes technical resumes, applying her IT experience to understand the complexities of working in a technical environment. She goes beyond a standard information gathering process and applies her knowledge of data and information management, business analytics, data science, infrastructures and architectures, software development, project and program management, among other areas to create truly compelling messages.
Jennifer is the author of Supercharge Your IT Job Search: Recent Graduate and Return to School Guide to Technical Resumes. available through Amazon. This is a very practical guide with solid examples that you can learn from.