Editor’s Note: This piece is part of the Generation Data series on the Tableau blog. At Tableau, we feel that data skills are essential for the next generation of workers and business leaders. Tableau’s Academic Program seeks to arm students with the valuable analytical skills needed to make data-driven decisions, both academically and professionally. If you are a student, download your free Tableau license today to start learning data skills.

Data skills help you stand out from the crowd

If you’re looking for a new job, you’re probably know just how competitive today’s job market is. Not only are you up against a hundred other applicants, but the number of job openings seem to outnumber qualified applicants. According to Forbes, “the existing talent shortage will reach its worst levels in 2030, when an expected 85.2 million job openings will go unfilled worldwide.”

It’s a race to see who can apply the fastest, set themselves apart from other job seekers, and wow recruiters with a dazzling LinkedIn profile, portfolio, or engaging resume. (Explore our gallery of interactive resumes.)

One cause of the talent shortage can be attributed to the need for technical skills like data analytics. Harvard Business School reports the business and society potential created by big data is “disrupting a wide range of roles, from engineering to functional analysts to executives.” Across many organizations, functions, and industries, people will need to develop their data skills.

Campus recruiters are looking for data skills

I asked our Tableau campus recruiter Kari Stickel about the skills she looks for in students, and what they should be doing to boost their professional profiles.

"We view data skills as more of a mindset than anything. Regardless of the information you’re analyzing, we see someone with this skill set as naturally curious and passionate about solving problems. Whether you’re looking to solve a critical issue or you’re more interested in personal data, data analysis skills are extremely transferable."

Kari Stickel, Tableau campus recruiter with 2018 summer interns.

Data skills are important for anyone starting their career. A 2019 LinkedIn report listed “Analytical Reasoning” as the third most important hard skill that companies need in 2019. Digging deeper into this conversation, I asked Kari what characteristics make candidates stand out. Here are a few skills she listed that help demonstrate competency and make resumes shine:

  1. Transferable skills like data skills! Recruiters like to see that you’ve participated in projects that demonstrate leadership, flexibility, and humility. Show us how you’ve applied your data skills to make decisions.
  2. The ability to code in Java, C, C#, C++, Ruby, or other languages, as well as showing proven success and ability to meet deadlines with a project.
  3. Experience working with customers or other stakeholders. Seeing that you have past success in customer-facing roles, possess technical aptitude with tools, and are goal-oriented tells us you’re an applicant to consider.

Whether you’re still in school or a recent graduate, it’s never too late to pick up data skills, learn how to code, or gain experience working with customers—all of which are elements that make candidates more compelling in their job search.

Other students recommend learning data skills!

Miami University graduate, Buchi Okafor, had a passion for sports and landed a finance internship at Under Armour which is where he first learned Tableau. Buchi quickly learned that “whatever job you’re doing you’ll be looking at data. The people that separate themselves from the pack are those who can gain insights from data pretty quickly and share their insights with others in a way their business partners can understand.” When Under Armour formed a new analytics team, Buchi decided to focus on his love for data and now works as an analyst for the Global Pricing Strategy and Analytics team.

Advance your career with data skills

To take Buchi's lead, commit to gaining data skills as soon as possible. Tableau is one way you can gain these skills. For students, here’s a quick 30-day guide to get started:

  • Setting up on day one: Students can sign up for a free one-year, renewable Tableau license and begin learning data analytics.
  • For the first two weeks, learn the basics: Watch the Getting Started video to help develop the vocabulary and gain confidence with data. Check out sites with data sets like kaggle and data.world.
  • Leverage the community the third week of your data journey: Learn from the thriving Tableau Community. There’s so much knowledge to be had among the existing data community.
  • Start sharing your work in week four: Create a Tableau Public account. This is the "YouTube of visualizations." So find a visualization that interests you (my favorites: "The Spells of Harry Potter" or “The Emoji of Spotify Artists”), and download their workbook to see how the author built it. Take it one step further and try to recreate it!
  • Get certified and schedule your exam: Sign up for the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification. This certification is created for those just starting their careers and want to show their data skills to employers on their resume. Note: you can schedule it six months out to have more time to practice and prepare!

Join the students of Generation Data and download your free Tableau for Students license today to start learning data skills.

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