I currently have a job offer for a CI position (see attached for whom concerned) in Cambridge, MA and found quite a dry market until now. Do you share this view point in your area?
Recruiting CI employees seems to differ from filling many other positions in the sense the CI functions require a broad range of skills ranging from technical skills (to understand products, innovation), to marketing skills (to understand why competition is acting is such a way), to communication (both written and verbal) and to intellectual skills (going from analysis to synthesis thoughts).
From instance, the set of skills required for hiring a chemical or software engineer is quite well defined, but I may say I am quite speechless for defining the CI hiring Do's and Don'ts if any. What are your thoughts?
Here are my thoughts...most of the qualities required in a strong CI analyst are somewhat intangible...
Certianly business acumen leads the list, and can be uncovered fairly easily, but others are more personality traits that I look for when hiring for analyst positions. As a person who has done CI in 3 very different industries, if you have these qualities, you can overcome your lack of historical knowledge of the industry.
1) Insatiable curiousity -- the desire to know more about the world around them and the tenacity to follow every lead
2) The ability to learn quickly -- a good analyst can quickly survey the information and understand what is important, whether they are a financial analyst or a more general analyst, the ability to learn and adapt is critical
3) Communication skills -- it doesn't matter how good someone is at pattern recognition or intuitive reasoning or systems thinking, if they can't communicate what they understand, they are useless as an analyst.
4) Poise with passion -- conviction of ideas with the flexibility to manage the politics of a particular situation and a strong desire to beat the competition.
5) Systems thinking -- enough said.
I have some interviewing techniques/questions that I use to get to understand if a candidate has these abilities. I also believe very strongly in hiring analysts from within my company for a couple of reasons. 1) when they exit the CI organization, they take the knowledge with them helping them to think differently in other positions and thereby improving the competitiveness of the company and imbedding the capabillity within the the broader organization 2) they understand the political landscape of the organization and know where the land mines lay (much harder to learn than industry dynamics)
Looking at this from a job seeker's perspective.. I would say that it is a similar situation here as well.
These jobs never seem to be advertised and almost invariably seem to be filled internally. Also having recently looked for summer internships in various companies which supposedly have a CI division I did not come across many positions which seemed to link to a CI job, though I did find well structured internship programs for all other functions. Does this mean that CI divisions almost never hire from outside and only use internal resources to fill its positions? Hmm..
Having given seminars on the topic over many years, I pride myself on being able to identify the most promising CI candidates - and it's mainly to do with attitude. I have often found these people have imagination, insatiable curiosity, an open mind, integrity, persistence, and a great deal of common sense. Communication skills are essential - if they don't get their message across they are useless in CI. That means that they must have the courage to face decision makers - even when the message is not what they want to hear, and they must be willing to be involved (the messenger is always in danger of being killed!). Finally, although a thorough knowledge of the business is not absolutely essential, it is important to know some of the top players. Again, that calls for the courage to get about a bit.
Many thanks to all respondents.
Since I initiated this discussion, I got to meet and to discuss with many CI practitioners.
In the same vein of many respondents, I found that curiosity, communication skills, and adaptation/open mindness are quite essential to best intelligence pros.
Courage is definitely critical for those individuals who sometimes have to convince upper management their future decisions may contradict their past decisions.