Seven septillion gigabytes. That’s a number so large that it’s nearly impossible to fathom: a seven followed by 21 zeroes. That is, according to one estimate, the amount of data the world is now producing each day.
Much of that data is dark data — data that companies are generating but not analyzing or making proper use of.
That massive mountain of unexploited data is precisely why learning data skills can be extremely valuable for professionals in almost any industry.
Here are just a few of the ways learning data skills can make you a more appealing job candidate:
You’ll identify and solve problems no one else can
Most companies have mountains of dark data that they’re not really looking at. If you have data skills you can mine that mountain for new business opportunities, but perhaps even more importantly, you’ll be able to uncover potential problems that the rest of the company may be blind to.
In fact, you may be able to find market opportunities and potential problems using public data before you’re even hired. Although it requires an investment of time, doing some data digging and reaching out to a potential employer with some real insight can be a powerful way to stand out, and make the case that you’re an employee who genuinely brings value to the table.
You’ll be legitimately data-driven
Being “data-driven” is something most companies aspire to, but few achieve. If you have the skills to work with large data sets and find insights, you’ll not only be making yourself more effective, you’ll be able to empower your entire team with the information they need to make better decisions.
That can make you the kind of hire that smart managers are always looking for — a force multiplier who makes everybody around them better.
You’ll be more productive
Even if potential employers don’t understand the value your data skills can bring to the company, every manager understands the value of a productive employee. Learning a little bit of data-focused programming can help you to automate a wide variety of daily tasks. There’s a good chance that anything repetitive you do on a computer can be automated, and a wide variety of other tasks become easier.
In marketing, for example, having some basic data skills can make it really easy to conduct surveys and filter down to incredibly granular levels to find the information you need.
You’ll have versatile, in-demand technical skills
The best thing about learning data skills is that they’re very cross functional. For example, any Python programming skills you learn for working with data can also be put to use for a variety of other tasks, meaning that if you decide you want to learn (for example) software development or robotics or game development in the future, you won’t have to start from scratch.
Other core data skills like data visualization, communicating about data, and writing SQL queries are also broadly useful skills that will benefit you across a variety of fields and careers.
And of course, there’s a lot to be said for simply being able to list skills like Python programming on your resume! Even if it’s not directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s a skill that will help you stand out for hiring managers who understand the productivity powers that even a little bit of Python automation can help you unlock.
Learning data skills is easier than you think!
So what’s stopping you? Probably the idea of learning to code. Perhaps you’ve tried to learn programming before and struggled, or perhaps you’re intimidated by how complicated people often make programming seem.
The reality, though, is that you don’t need to learn a whole lot to be able to do some very powerful things. And if you haven’t tried learning in a while, you might be surprised to discover just how approachable and easy some of today’s online learning platforms can make it to start coding.
Charlie Custer is a data science educator and marketer at Dataquest.io, an online data science learning platform.