Data skills are only part of the story

Kirsty Garshong our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 5/21/2015 3:29 PM

Make sure you tell the rest.

You have probably heard that there is a shortage of highly skilled individuals in many specialised occupations. This is partially because the current marketplace is very positive, and business people in the UK are generally optimistic and upbeat. Optimism leads to expansion and with expansion comes new jobs. This is, of course, all very good news if you are looking for a better position or you are a graduate moving into the workplace. Right now, there is a lot of competition for good data analysts, and the result of this is increased salaries, better benefits and potentially a better chance of finding the job you want.

A large part of our remit here at Harnham is to be a conduit between the jobseeker and the potential employer. In fairness to ourselves we are very good at getting people into the right role but there is still a lot you can do to help this process along. One of the small things you can do is recognise that as important and impressive as your data analysis skills are they are not the whole story of you.

As you would expect in the analysis industries, there is a very heavy focus on skill set. Your skills are the door opener in many ways because without the appropriate skills the employer will simply not consider you. However, we need to be very careful of over-reliance on qualifications and skill set. Once over the first hurdle you will likely still be in a pool of candidates all of whom will have a similar skill set. If you look around our advice section, you will see hints on CV writing, interview techniques and several other useful preparation aids. (All of which will be helpful, because what you need to do now is stand out a little more.) On an even playing field a small thing can make a huge difference, so here are some general tips to help you stand out.


  • Make sure you showcase soft skills such as teamwork and innovative practice. Employers are looking for you to be part of their business, and there is more to working than just being able to do the job. Make sure you find the opportunity to demonstrate you bring more than the tools of the trade.
  • Demonstrate application. The employer is looking for you to demonstrate the application of your skill set not the skill set itself, - they already know you have that. This one should be relatively easy to show if you are switching jobs but can be difficult if you are a graduate. Your insightful, research-rich dissertation is probably very impressive, but most degrees will also include some practical implementation you can talk about as well. If you did a sandwich year or work experience then they should hear about it.
  • Understand the wider marketplace. When you are applying for a specialised position, it is always good to demonstrate how this fits into the wider context of the employer's business and the general market. Have some examples memorised and make sure you know at least the bones of the employers marketplace, competitors and unique selling points.
  • Following on from understanding the market is demonstrating that you see how the stakeholders will engage with your work. With more companies using data as an integral part of their ongoing strategy, a good candidate should be able to demonstrate that they can deliver not just the data but also strong, well-founded and derived, strategic recommendations that will drive stakeholder engagement with the analysis. It will become more and more a part of the role of the data analyst that they bring the data to life by demonstrating the results in a way that will engage the less technical audience. It is really very important that you are able to engage successfully with both internal and external stakeholders and translate your work into a suitable presentation language. 
  • Answering the ‘So What?’ – A common request from employers is to hire analysts with genuine enthusiasm for actionable insight and a clear appreciation of how it can be applied to business strategy. They obviously want to understand that you possess the required level of technical competence for the position, but this alone, often isn’t enough. Are you capable of answering the ‘so what’ questions that come about as a result of your analysis? You may be capable of producing complex statistical models, but ‘so what’ does that mean for the business? What recommendations can you, and have you made based on your analytical findings that have helped to improve business performance? Do you know the impact your analysis had? Make sure that you demonstrate your understanding of analytics in a broader commercial capacity, rather than purely focusing on your technical ability.
  • Remember to simplify where needed. It is very easy to assume that everyone involved in the process will understand technical information or industry jargon and this may not always be the case. In a global business, for example, it is common for representatives of several areas to be involved in new appointments. Department managers may be hiring you as a specialist because they do not have that specialism in-house. Clearly do not explain everything in depth because there will be a general high level of knowledge in the room anyway, but remember that the more specialised the subject, the more you will need to explain.

Standing out as an applicant is often just a matter of being sensitive to the needs of the employer and then pointing out where you meet those needs.

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MeasureCamp Berlin

MeasureCamp Berlin: A Preview

In preparation for this year's MeasureCamp Berlin, we sat down with Benjamin Bock, communications lead, to discuss what to expect, as well as his thoughts on the industry in general. Here's what he had to say: Can you explain MeasureCamp for people who haven’t been yet? MeasureCamp is an open, free-to-attend analytics 'un-conference' made by analytics professionals for analytics professionals (and everyone who wants to get there) around the globe. In that sense, it’s different to any conference you know of. Our schedule is created on the day of the event, and our speakers are fellow attendees. Listen to talks, give a talk, and discuss topics that really tickle your fancy. What can we expect at MeasureCamp Berlin this year? Let’s begin with what you can’t and never will expect at MeasureCamp Berlin: Sales pitch presentations. We’ve all been there… you are visiting a fancy, expensive conference and all you get is Heads of 'This n’ That' talking about what their team did, what they spent money on and that you should buy Product X to be as Data-driven as them (mind the cynicism). At MeasureCamp you can expect talks and discussion rounds by around 150 fellow experts, who all know the daily adventures of cleaning Data, setting up analytics or debugging tracking code or running mind-bending analysis first hand.  What is your best tip for someone that has never been at MeasureCamp before? Don’t rush it! MeasureCamp is about mingling with the analytics community as much as it is about the talks and discussion rounds. Pick a few talks that really interest you and use the rest of the day to get to know other attendees. Our awesome sponsors are also more than happy to talk to you. What is the best advice you got last year at MeasureCamp? On a personal level, I was able to get some really good advice when it came to data privacy topics. GDPR was still fairly fresh and nobody really knew if what they had done was actually enough to not get into trouble. That’s the kind of advice you only get if you have the chance to talk to other professionals face to face. On another note, what are the most sought-after skills and technologies currently used? I can only speak of my experience here. On a hard skill level and depending on the individual role, you need a solid understanding of web technologies (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) and tag managing systems to be able to implement tracking (plus some knowledge in mobile development when your focus lies on apps). When it comes to analysing and visualising Data, you should understand the tool you are working with and its underlying Data-structures. Being able to retrieve tool-agnostic Data with SQL and running more sophisticated calculations (e.g. with Python) has become more and more important over the last few years. But there are some softer skills, that should not be overlooked as well. As an analytics professional, you should never assume that your knowledge and language are common ground. You need to be a strong communicator, who is able to explain complicated concepts broken down to the absolute basics. In your opinion, what will be the biggest challenge in digital analytics in the next year? Two weeks ago, I would have answered “bringing web and app Data together”. Now that we know Google is working on that topic, it’s still a challenge, but one I am happy to tackle in the coming year. Digital Analytics is constantly changing. What do you expect to be the most talked about topic at MeasureCamp this year? As a Tracking Specialist with a focus on Google products, I’d love to hear some talks about Google Tag Manager Custom Templates. But my top guess is, that the newly released Apps and Web properties beta for Google Analytics will be the talk of the hour. MeasureCamp Berlin is an open and free-to-attend 'un-conference', taking place this year on the 28th of September. The final batch of tickets will be released on the 21st of August at 03:00 PM (CEST). Click here for more information and to get hold of your place. 

Where Tech Meets Tradition

Where Tech Meets Tradition

If you’re lamenting the decline of handmade traditional products, cast your cares aside. There’s a new Sheriff in town and its name is, Tech. Just a generation ago, children would leave the farm or the family business, go to school, and then move on to make their place in the world doing their own thing. Away from family.  Today, the landscape has changed and those who have left are coming home. But this time, they’re bringing technology with them to help make things more efficient and more productive. Is Tech-Assisted Still Handmade? In a word, yes. Artists still make things “from scratch”, except now technologies allow them to not only see their vision in real-time, but their customers, too. Have you ever wondered what the image in your head might look like on paper or in metal? What about the design of prosthetic arms and healthcare devices by 3D printers? You’re still designing, creating.  But just like any new technology, there’s still a learning curve. Even for cutting-edge craftspeople who find that sometimes, the line between craftsmanship and high-tech creativity may be a bit of a blur. Not to mention the expense for either the equipment required or being able to offer art using traditional tools at technology-assisted prices. Somewhere between the two, there is a trade-off. It’s up to the individual to determine where and what that trade-off is. Life in the Creative Economy One of Banksy’s paintings shredded itself upon purchase at an auction recently. AI is making music and writing books. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain all have their place in the creative economy from immersive entertainment to efficient manufacturing processes. Each of these touches the way we live now. In a joint study between McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, 'Creative Disruption: The impact of emerging technologies on the creative economy', the organisations broke down the various technologies used in the creative economy and how they’re driving change. For example: AI is being used to distill user preferences when it comes to curating movies and music. The Associated Press has used AI to free up reporters’ time and the Washington Post has created a tool to help it generate up to 70 articles a month, many stories of which they wouldn’t have otherwise dedicated staff.Machine Learning has begun to create original content. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have come together as a new medium to help move people to get up, get active, and go play whether it’s a stroll through a virtual art gallery or watching your children play at the playground.  Where else might immersive media play out? Content today could help tell humanitarian stories or offer work-place diversity training. But back to the artisan handicrafts.  Artistry with technology Whilst publishing firms may be looking to use AI to redefine the creative economy, they are not alone. Other artists utilising these technologies include:  SculptorsDigital artistsPaintersJewellery makersBourbon distillers America’s oldest distiller has gotten on the technology bandwagon and while there is no rushing good Bourbon, but you can manage the process more efficiently. They’ve even taken things a step further and have created an app for aficionados to follow along in the process. Talk about crafted and curated for individual tastes and transparency. It may seem almost self-explanatory to note how other artisans are using technology. But what about distilleries? What are they doing? They’re creating efficiency by: Adding IoT sensors for Data Analytics collection Adding RFID tags to their barrels Creating experimental ageing warehouses (AR, anyone?) to refine their craft. Don’t worry, though. These changes won’t affect the spirit itself. After all, according to Mr. Wheatley, Master Distiller, “There’s no way to cheat mother nature or father time.” Ultimately, the idea is to not only understand the history behind the process, but to make it more efficient and repeatable. A way to preserve the processes of the past while using the advances of the present with an eye to the future. If you’re interested in using Data & Analytics to drive creativity, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expect consultants to find out more. 

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