James Governor's Monkchips

Blogging as a prerequisite for hiring industry analysts

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If there is a single gotcha in hiring industry analysts its hiring someone that you later find out can’t write.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had the conversation with people that run analyst firms or research groups. “The candidate seemed really good but we couldnt’ get them to write”.
Perhaps they can’t write fast enough. Perhaps they don’t know how to express themselves on the page. Perhaps they just have some weird mental block. Just like some people are afraid of public speaking, some others are evidently afraid of putting their thoughts down in written form.
But those people are never going to be really strong industry analysts. They might make a great consultant with enterprise clients, they might make a great back room research manager, but they are not going to cut it as an analyst.
To be an analyst you have to be able to write. How do you know if someone can write, in volume, and structure their thoughts effectively? Simple: read their blog.
A corrolary of this, in answer to the question How Do I Become An Industry Analyst, is that if you do want to become an analyst, start blogging. RedMonk certainly wouldn’t hire someone without solid communications skills. I think other analyst firms, even if they plan to make someone stop blogging when they join, because they are part of the “dont get it” generation, will increasingly use the simple mechanism of reading blogs as part of their human resources programs.
At RedMonk we also like to think a sense of humour is a good thing. Sure we might hire a cold fish if they were incredibly well qualified but its far more likely we would hire someone that is going to fit into our emerging corporate culture – where fun and passion are touchstones, not afterthoughts. We want our clients to enjoy working with us. Readiung someone’s blog is a great to establish cultural fit before making an employment offer.
As we consider the future of the industry analyst business its clear that some deadwood is going to be cleared out, and I believe some bloggers will backfill those positions, either as independents, for the majors, or in one of the emerging federations. Things to do in the analyst business when you’re dead? Yes indeed.
You can also built credibility by being linked to by established analysts, or other well respected industry commentators. This credibility might add a few bucks to your starting salary.
Its not just my business that sees the value of bloggers. Morgan McLintic points out that being a blogger can help you get an internship in PR.
Want a job? Start blogging. Its the start of your portfolio for life. 
This is the second post in a series. Here is the first.


  1. Hi James – you’re right. If I were an analyst, I’d certainly think strongly about starting a blog. For one to showcase my thinking; two, in order to raise my personal profile and kudos and therefore the value I can bring to my firm; three, to enhance my writing skills; four, to have my ideas challenged; and five, to force me to read others’ thoughts and keep up to date – perhaps carve my own niche.

    I could probably add six, to show passion; seven, humor as you say; eight – just to keep up with my ‘competitors’ for the position; nine, to increase my contacts in the industry; and ten, because no list should end at nine.

  2. One of the best blog post i have ever read.

  3. James – as you know, I have also been there hiring new analysts who have turned out to have difficulties developing their writing skills. Nice steer to qualify people on their blogs.

    I have a question on a slightly different topic though. I have recently converted from being a blog sceptic to becoming one of the enlightened (and your blog played an important role in this).

    However, I have used newsgroups and other discussion forums for pretty much all of my professional career (still do) and I am finding the whole blog thing a bit frustrating in one particular respect.

    The centre of gravity for a blog is its source or owner, rather than a theme or topic. Whilst blogs are drawing people away from community discussion areas (participation in some previously very lively newsgroups has dwindled, for example) they are not actually replacing that community discussion function very well.

    Sure, you can use links to create a clumsy approximation to a discussion thread across disparate blogs, but it is just that – clumsy.

    This post I am writing now, for example, would naturally be a new newsgroup thread, but I don’t have that option here. Yet I want to post here because I know your blog is widely read.

    Perhaps I am missing something as a relative newbie to the blog scene, so I would be interested in your ideas of how blogs might evolve to deal with the theme/topic based discussion requirement more elegantly.


  4. James, there is a point about your argument. You can’t really judge someone by it’s blog postings, at least, you have to consider that it may not be the ONLY point (it may seem obvious but, after reading Dale’s I thought it worth mentioning). Blogging for an audience of one is a very common happening and, I, for one, use my blog as a brain dump, then, the idea grows, gets refined and, THEN it is suitable to be presented at a customer. Some of my postings are out of order and structure (then again, getting a job isn’t my primal concern with bloging). Yes, Blogs are a helpfull mean but, have to be taken with a grain of salt.
    Dale, you are right and, somehow, people fail to understand History and keep repeating the same errors (fortunatelly, it’s cycle). The WWW didn’t killed the written press (but enlarged the media from paper to more), Blogs didn’t kill (nor will ever) the press releases and, Weblogs didn’t killed the newsgroups/forums. Both strutures play their part and both are necessary. But, we’re still in the beginning of the blogging hype so, some people are still learning what you discovered (aparently) in a faster way. The choronists of demise are always looking for “XXX is dead” articles but, they are almost always wrong, just look at recent history, The Mainframe is Dead, Java is Dead, Sony is Dead, Sun is Dead, HP is dead, Cobol is Dead (different from “I wish Cobol was dead”), Unix is dead and so on, so on.
    Weblogs (I really like the old word a lot more) are a place where I can write what happen during my day and don’t have worries about being ontopic and beeing integrated in some context. There is also value for some people in that since they get free feedback of my view on their work but, it sure isn’t the all knowing all serving purpose (we have Gartner for that).

  5. Several thoughts:

    1. If you are encouraging analysts to be good writers, are you saying that the value of an analyst is in their ability to create lots of whitepapers? I think the value of an analyst is a little different in that conversations are the things that are most useful and critical listening skills are missing even more in many of the large analyst firms.

    2. Hiring an analyst that blogs would be the wrong thing in that many analyst firms prevent their bloggers from blogging. I ran across a whitepaper from one of the large analyst firms where they made recommendations on how enterprises should think about blogging yet the lead analyst themself doesn’t blog. What should us customers think?

    3. Maybe if the analyst can’t blog, at least they should have the ability to convince industry CTOs on the importance of blogging. It frustrates me as a customer to know that there are so many of them that have lots to share yet stay insular in their communication…

  6. Great post, James, definitely encourages me to keep blogging. I have found that blogging helps me get over writer’s block on white papers I’m writing.

    For Dale, I would encourage you to look into trackbacks (and James, are they implemented for your blog?). Basically, trackbacks let you write an entry on your blog that is posted as a “forum thread” so to speak, usually below the post that you’re commenting on, letting James know that you’ve read what he has to say and have something to say in return. Trackbacks are of course another spammer’s source of spammunition, but with careful administration, you should be able to comment on other’s posts on your own site, with the trackback displaying below James’ post, if James has a trackback URL available. There’s a good description of their intention here: http://www.i.ph/kb/article.php?id=003. Hope this helps!

  7. James, do all analysts have to write well? Some of the best analysts I work with actually produce very little written work. They are good because of their ability to sit down in front of senior executives and talk about the market in a manner which shows insight and understanding without being patronising or arrogant. They’re also not afraid of learning – or of changing their view when presented with new information. I know for some jobs in some analyst firms that writing is essential but in all of them?

  8. I used to have no problem writing but I had publisher’s block. I could spit out an RN in a few hours at a coffee shop. But when it came time to subject my words to peer review and *editors* I just could not do it. Obviously I got over that. But blogging changed my writing career.

    An analyst has to love being an information sponge, has to be prolific in writing, and has to be a great public speaker. Those are my criteria.

  9. hey anne. they should work.

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