Your hard skills will get you an interview, but it is your soft skills that will land you a job.
—Sastry Pantula (2010b)
Statistical leaders possess the so-called soft skills in abundance.
—Ron Snee (1998)
Do you have the makings of a successful statistician? This chapter should help you decide.
We begin by amplifying on the obvious. You must have strong analytical and technical skills (Chapter 7). This is, however, only a necessary, and not a sufficient, condition. To succeed (and be happy) on the job, you also need to possess a variety of the so-called “soft skills.” We will discuss the importance of communication and interpersonal skills; the ability to size up problems; flexibility; a proactive mindset; persistence; a realistic attitude; enthusiasm and appropriate self-confidence; the ability to prioritize tasks, manage time, and cope with stress; team and leadership skills; the ability to properly adapt and apply knowledge; and passion for lifelong learning. We supplement our comments with the observations of some other statisticians.
Most of these traits do not apply to statisticians alone; they are required for success in many professions. But they are especially important for statisticians.
Our comments are made principally with applied statisticians in business, industry, and government in mind. However, they also have much applicability to academia, as further discussed in Chapter 13.