Cornell University

Why Statistics?

We spoke to a number of recruiters at the ILR Job Fair recently and here are some of the reasons they provided us on why you should study statistics.

  • "Credibility -- the ability to speak intelligently is highly valued, use of numbers in a coherent way is essential."

  • "Details -- give me a presentation with lots of detail that shows you can handle information from many angles and we will recruit you harder."

  • "Numeric literacy is very important in our field -- all employees have to pass algebra tests and basic stats. even the HR people, we are constantly looking at predictive data whether it is equipment failure, maintenance schedules, or staffing."

  • "The people who move up and make critical lateral moves within our company¬† are those who understand statistics, they can summarize the information better, they have more credibility than others because they don't talk in generalities, they do talk in specifics."

  • "Show us how our data are correlated for work force planning and you will have a huge step up -- most people can do tables or graphs, to do something more complicated like correlation is very attention getting."

  • "Don't tell us you took stats, show us how you used it -- how you compared comp. programs across regions for a class and found a big difference or how you did a survey for your service organization."

  • "I used my ILR stats in my internship which then led to a full-time offer at a Fortune 100 company; I did a survey of the workers at one plant --had to pull out my stat book to make sure I was doing the design right because I wanted to capture information from every shift; it changed the way they compensated the shift workers and the report eventually made its way to the Board of Directors."

  • "HR staffing is all about stats -- we look at attrition by division, at diversity, at affirmative action -- you have to be comfortable with these ideas to get ahead in HR, you need to explain why differences exist and what future looks like."

  • "Metrics are what we look at and they always want new ones, we also do benchmark studies to compare across different industries which are heavily reliant on statistics."

  • "You have to remember how to show data to different kinds of people -- some want graphs while others need charts; knowing how to do that and what the limits are makes you valuable to the department."