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Employability skills

Analytical & problem solving

What are analytical and problem solving skills?

Analytical skills

The ability to examine information or a situation in detail in order to identify key or important elements, their strengths and weaknesses and use these to compile a persuasive argument, make recommendations or solve a problem.

The ability to think analytically is an important element of problem solving as well as helping with the recall and appropriate use of information and knowledge.

Problem solving

The ability to define or identify the problem, generate alternatives or potential solutions, evaluate and choose between these and implement the chosen solution. 

Mindtools has some great resources on problem solving; including a quiz to assess your abilities, problem-solving techniques and strategies and tips to improve your problem solving skills. 

Why employers want them

Any workplace, project or task will have challenges or obstacles which need to be overcome.  If an organisation employs people who are adept at solving problems at all levels, it reduces the need for complex chains of command or lessens demand on managers' time. In short, it will help save time and therefore money.

Analytical skills are perhaps becoming increasingly important; we are all bombarded with huge amounts of information every day. Being able to quickly yet comprehensively identify and evaluate the most important or relevant information for the organisation or your specific job role will be an increasingly useful skill.

Examples of how analytical or problem solving skills can be developed or evidenced

  • Leisure activities (e.g. chess, logic games, computing).
  • Overcoming obstacles to achieve an ambition or goal.
  • Working in a customer environment and resolving complaints, particularly in situations where there is no protocol.
  • Research (e.g. for essays or projects, or within the workplace).
  • Particular achievements in the workplace (e.g. devising new working practices to improve efficiency, information systems development, diagnosing and rectifying faults or issues).
  • Creative solutions to coursework problems.
  • Identifying appropriate source material for assignments. 
  • For more information on developing your skills, download our eBook or read it online.