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Jun 27, 2023

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Business Intelligence Careers

The Value of a Data Analyst's Project Portfolio

5 min read

Jun 27, 2023

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Business Intelligence Careers

The Value of a Data Analyst's Project Portfolio

5 min read

Jun 27, 2023

/

Business Intelligence Careers

The Value of a Data Analyst's Project Portfolio

5 min read

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The Value of a Data Analyst's Project Portfolio

Chances are, if you’ve been in the data analytics space for any length of time, you’ve heard that having a project portfolio is imperative to your success. But you may be wondering: what’s the value in having a portfolio?

My aim is to answer that question.

Demonstrate your data skills.

Let’s say a hiring manager gets two similar resumes, both of which list the required skills mentioned in the job posting. The difference? One of them includes a link to a project portfolio. If you were that hiring manager, which one would you choose? The one who says they have the skills or the one who shows they have the skills?

A project portfolio is a great way to showcase your skills and experience. It proves that you have the ability to work with the required tools and provides potential employers with concrete examples of your work. In turn, this allows employers to feel confident in your capabilities.

Highlight your expertise.

Maybe you’re a SQL whiz, a Power BI master, a Tableau guru, or an Excel pro. You absolutely can, and should, mention those skills in your resume. But what better way to highlight them than to use a portfolio project?

Creating a project that allows you to use complex SQL functions, DAX, calculated fields, or Power Query is a fantastic way to really show that you have a strong understanding of the tools and how they’re used.

Your project portfolio is really your opportunity to brag about your skills. Highlight the complexity of your project(s) that involve more advanced analytics or sophisticated visualizations.

Show your problem-solving.

If you’ve ever worked on any data analysis with Excel and SQL or any data visualization with Power BI or Tableau, then you know that your problem-solving skills must be finely tuned.

No matter how much experience you have, you’re bound to come across a time when you have to work through an error that you didn’t anticipate or results that seem incorrect.

Keep track of the challenges you experienced and how you worked to solve them. Walking someone through your project is a good way to discuss some of those challenges and solutions and demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

Display your communication skills.

A portfolio project isn’t all about the data visualizations. While they may be the most exciting to look at, at the end of the day, data analysis is about analyzing data to find valuable insights that can then be used to make informed business decisions.

As a data analyst, you need to have strong written and verbal communication skills. It can be a challenge to explain complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way.

Your project portfolio is a great place to demonstrate your written communication skills. Each project should start with a description that gives context into the business case and the problem you are trying to solve or questions you are trying to answer. It should also include your analysis, your insights, and any recommendations.

Make sure your writing is clear, professional, and grammatically correct. After all, it’s easy to extrapolate that the way you present yourself within your portfolio is the way you would present yourself in your job.

Illustrate domain knowledge.

Let me start by saying that this one doesn’t apply to every project; however, project portfolios can include projects that involve data analysis in relevant domains, like finance, healthcare, marketing, or retail.

If you do choose to complete domain-specific projects, you can use that opportunity to demonstrate deeper understanding of industry-specific challenges and your ability to provide insights and solutions within that context.

Stand out in the crowd.

Project portfolios are not, as yet, a required part of many data analyst job applications. As such, many aspiring analysts don't include one with their application.

This is your time to shine! Put in the effort up front to create a strong project portfolio and you’ll already be a step ahead of the crowd.

Build your confidence.

This last one is personal and, in my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons to create a project portfolio.

I’ll tell you a secret about my own experience with project portfolios:

When I applied to data analyst positions, I always included the link to my portfolio but no one ever brought it up in interviews or said, “Hey Lauren, I see that you have this incredible project (😉) about xyz. Tell me about what you did!”

So why am I such a strong proponent for portfolios?

Because creating those projects, cleaning the data, working through the SQL, building my visualizations, and coming up with insights and recommendations allowed me to get comfortable with talking about working with large datasets, my personal data analysis workflow, how I handle messy data, why I included certain recommendations, and more.

The confidence that I gained while completing my projects was invaluable in the interview process so, regardless of if the hiring managers looked at my portfolio or not, it was worth it.

Final Thoughts

Portfolio projects give you a chance to show your skill, passion, and expertise when it comes to data analytics.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Show, don’t tell,” before, and that holds true here.

A project portfolio is a great way to give potential employers insight into your data analysis workflow, problem-solving skills, and communication, as well as give them a better idea of what you can offer to their company.

But having a project portfolio isn’t just for the employer, it’s for you, too!

Completing projects gives you more practical experience, confidence, and knowledge about data analytics. It allows you to go into interviews prepped with great examples and the ability to speak confidently about cleaning, prepping, analyzing, and visualizing data.

Now that you understand the value in having a project portfolio, it’s time to get started!

Check out our Data Playground or join one of our Data Challenges to begin building your own project portfolio.

I can’t wait to see where you go from here!

-Lauren

Ready to build your own Data Analyst Portfolio?

Check out this blog from Enrique to help you build a strong portfolio from the start, and head over to our Data Analyst Showcase. It's a free platform for you to host your entire portfolio, and it makes sharing it a breeze!

Free portfolio playbook

How to Build A Strong Data Analyst Project Portfolio

Learn the 5 steps that will make your project portfolio stand out so you can land your dream job!

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