4 Secrets to hiring a Data Analyst

Data analysts. Data scientists. Data nerds. Whatever you want to call them, there’s no denying that qualified Web analytics professionals are in high demand. And for good reason; these days, big data is on the minds of most organizations, large and small. Data analysis was even named one of the “sexiest jobs of the 21st Century” by CNBC last year. Yes, it’s officially revenge of the nerds.

And these professionals often command hefty salaries. According to data, the average national salary for a web analyst was $76,000 – 33% higher than average salaries for all jobs postings nationwide.

While they may appear pricey, the cost of not hiring a data analyst (or team of analysts) is much greater. Like Arthur C. Neilsen, founder of AC Nielsen, once said, “The price of light is less than the cost of greatness.” So how can you ensure you hire a great data analyst? Here are a few things to look for.

  • They can tell a story. Long gone are the days of pulling statistics like “page views” and compiling them into a report, just for the sake of reporting. With today’s advanced analytics tools, data can work much harder and much faster. But that data needs someone to interpret it, and interpret it in a way stakeholders understand. While data relies on logic and reasoning, decisions are often made based on emotion. So, the best analysts have a bit of a storytelling streak and can sway decision makers toward the right decisions.
  • They have a backbone. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see managers who are spoon fed numbers and data that support their decisions. Of course, this does nothing for the bottom line and certainly does not drive innovation or change. Besides being able to tell a compelling story, a great analyst has enough of a backbone to present true facts, and defend their recommendations with airtight reasoning.
  • They can integrate. Analytics teams are not meant to be kept in a corner (or worse – a dark server room!). After all, what good are data and insights if they are not getting put to use? A good analyst knows how to closely integrate with all corners of the organization, but particularly user experience and tech teams. A great analyst earns their trust, so they become a core part of any project or process.
  • They can optimize. While some insights might point to major re-work or re-design projects that take months, others are simpler fixes. For example, a bug that blocks certain users from completing a key form. Great Data Analysts can form a plan around what to monitor, and ignite action when something is performing at a less-than-optimal rate.

While a data analyst might look great on paper, these are the skills to look for if you truly want to start seeing ROI. What are some of the best qualities you feel are important for a Web analyst to possess?

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