What makes a good analyst?

Analysis is something that we all do instinctively every day, without even thinking about it:

Which account is going to give me the best return on my savings? What is the best way of getting from London to Bath? Is that 2nd hand car good value for money?

In this sense, we are all ‘analysts’, but what specific skills do people need in order to excel in the discipline of intelligence analysis?

What do IMSL look for in a professional intelligence analyst?

  1. Good numeracy: Basic maths and a working knowledge of statistics is essential for quantitative analysis.
  2. Literacy, Comprehension & Communication: The ability to write clear, concise, and informative prose allows the analyst to effectively communicate insight and analysis to others.
  3. Knowledge of Analytical Techniques and technology: Knowing the range of techniques and tools available, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can be applied in different circumstances allows the analyst to approach unknown subject matters with confidence. Of course, we don’t expect our recruits to be experts in this prior to joining IMSL. With this in mind we provide full training in both areas.
  4. Attitude / Personality Type 1: Those who enjoy the analytical process and the associated cerebral challenge are a lot more likely to stick with problems for longer – and it’s often sheer tenacity that delivers results.
  5. Attitude / Personality Type 2: People who are good at cerebral processes like analysis tend to be introverts. People who are good at networking, briefing, and collaborative work tend to be extroverts. We prefer to recruit analysts who are somewhere in between either end of this spectrum, and have a range of both sets of skills.
  6. Mental Aptitude: We’re not looking to recruit geniuses, but we are looking for those who are able to process information thoroughly and rapidly.
  7. Appreciation of Cognitive Biases: Cognitive biases are a natural aspect of human rationale, but they can adversely influence a truly objective analysis. Understanding how to manage your own bias is an important skill in a good analyst.
  8. Teamwork: A good analyst must have the ability to work in teams and in high-stress environments, under significant time pressure. As such, a good sense of humour is often important.
  9. Experience: In the absence of a qualification, relevant experience counts for a lot.
  10. Tradecraft: An in-depth understanding of processes and methods for achieving efficient and effective results is essential to an accomplished analyst.

Do you recognise yourself in the points detailed above? If so, you might have what it takes to embark on a great career as an intelligence analyst. Find out what it’s like to work at IMSL, or get in touch. We want to hear from you.

What sets IMSL analysts apart?

Undoubtedly, it’s the people we invest in that sets IMSL apart. Most analysts are subject matter experts (SMEs), but at IMSL our spectrum of work is too wide and dynamic for that luxury. All our analysts have their individual specialisms, but it is crucial that each is able to turn their hand to a rich variety of intelligence problems.

Our intelligence laboratory (Intel-Lab) concept and Insights blog are both testament to how the company is always seeking to develop and improve analytical skills and processes. IMSL analysts are continually seeking new tools and technology for the collection and analysis of intelligence, and they are experts in operating these platforms to full effect. The fact that our analysts are also information collectors is a significant advantage too; in a data-rich world this is a far more effective model than the traditional collector/analyst arrangement.

IMSL also has a different approach to data. We see large volumes of disparate data as an opportunity, whereas many intelligence analysts see it as a threat. We also have a thirst for knowledge, and a drive for improvement.

Interested in joining IMSL? Please get in touch – we’d like to hear from you.