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 programme 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 licence today to start learning data skills.

The competitive job market

If you’re in the market for a new job, you know how competitive today’s job search can be. Not only is it extremely competitive when applying for roles, 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 themself apart from other job seekers and wow recruiters with a CV, LinkedIn profile or portfolio.

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 organisations, functions and industries, people will need to develop their data skills.

What do campus recruiters want to see?

I asked the campus recruiter at Tableau, Kari Stickel, about her point of view on skills that current or returning students should be acquiring to boost their professional profiles.

"We view data skills as more of a mindset than anything. Regardless of the information you’re analysing, 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 transferrable."


Kari Stickel, Tableau campus recruiter with 2018 summer interns.

Data skills are important for anyone starting their career. When LinkedIn reported hard and soft skills companies need most in 2019, "Analytical Reasoning" was ranked number 3 under hard skills. Digging deeper into this conversation, I asked Kari what makes a strong candidate and she listed a few examples of skills that demonstrate competency:

  1. Transferrable skills like data skills! Recruiters like to see projects that demonstrate leadership, flexibility and humility. Show us how you’ve applied data to make decisions.
  2. The ability to code in Java, C, C#, C++, Ruby, and other languages, as well as showing proven success and ability to meet deadlines with a project.
  3. Experience working with customers. 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 things that make you a more compelling candidate in the job search.

Hear from students – the data generation


Buchi Okafor and Harpreet Ghuman sharing their data journey at Tableau Conference 2018 with Courtney Totten, Academic Programmes.

One new Miami University graduate, Buchi Okafor, had a passion for sports and landed a finance internship at Under Armour 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 a new analytics team at Under Armour formed, Buchi decided to focus on his love for data and now works as an analyst for the global pricing strategy and analytics team.

Another new grad, Harpreet Ghuman, began his data skills journey unconventionally. He saw a Game of Thrones visualisation in Tableau Public which intrigued him, leading him to teach himself Tableau. At the time, Harpreet was in a master’s programme at the University of Maryland for business administration and management.

Harpreet said, “Once I started making visualisations with Tableau, it didn’t matter to people that I didn’t have a background in data. Visualisation, like curiosity, is a skill you can translate.” With his newfound love of data analytics, Harpreet decided to also pursue a master of science degree in marketing analytics. Now, he has his dream job as a senior consultant in data analytics at EY, putting his Tableau skills to use with his job’s focus on data visualisation.

Check out their full interview on how data skills helped Buchi and Harpreet land their dream jobs.

Advance your career with data skills

To take Buchi and Harpreet’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 licence 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.
  • Make use of the community in 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 visualisations". So find a visualisation that interests you (my favourites: "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 who want to show their data skills to employers on their CV. Note: you can schedule it six months in advance to have more time to practice and prepare!

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