Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Part 7 -- Beyond Borders: Europe, India And South Africa (How To Get A Job In Intelligence)

Part 1 -- Introduction
Part 2 -- The Intelligence Job Market From 20,000 Feet
Part 3 -- The Good News!
Part 4 -- Even Better News!
Part 5 -- Beyond The Big Three
Part 6 -- Beyond Borders

It has been my pleasure over the last several years to get to know a number of intelligence professionals in other countries. I recently reached out to some of them to ask them what the job market was like for intelligence professionals in their neck of the woods. I received some good replies that I thought were worth sharing.

(Note: I have lightly edited these responses for length and clarity (ie spelled out abbreviations, etc). Chris, Nimalan, Dalene; if I messed up what you were trying to say in the process, please take me to task in the comments)

by Chris Pallaris, Head of Open Source Intelligence at the International Relations and Security Network, Zurich, Switzerland

For my part, jobs are certainly to be had in Europe, both in the public or private sector. One caveat: the economic crisis has meant more people staying in university longer. The research positions in a great many university-affiliated think tanks are tough to land and are likely to remain so for a little while longer.

The problem, however – and this has been echoed by a number of people I have spoken to - is not attracting applicants but rather finding those with the qualities and skills that are really in demand. The problem here is as much one for the employer as it is for the employees.

Students may leave university with good subject or region specific knowledge. But they lack the IT and information literacy skills that will allow them to jump in at the deep end. More notably, many lack the tact to deal with the sensitive issues that invariably cross their desks (a consequence of letting it all out on Facebook as a matter of course perhaps?). It’s a little unfair to expect them to have these skills from the word go, but in the current climate... My advice as an occasional recruiter: a little old school courtesy would go a long way towards making up for any skills shortages.

Also, it’s important for young graduates to note that intel jobs increasingly come in lots of different flavors: as information officers/knowledge managers, in policy planning units, as market researchers etc. All make use of intelligence skills. Moreover, there is a growing call for people who can think about the future (scenarios, foresight, etc.) without having smoke pour from their ears.

In the “competitive intelligence” domain, my (albeit limited) experience suggests that the best “spooks” and strategists have served a long(ish) apprenticeship in one or more departments (research, planning, marketing etc.) before graduating to a competitive intelligence role. Knowing the business or industry you’re in is part and parcel of being able to survey the market, identify trends, anticipate threats, etc. That may be something worth passing on.

I would also proffer the following advice: a good job as an analyst, researcher, desk officer, etc. in a lowly but effective department is far better than a sexy sounding intelligence job in a dysfunctional agency. The important thing for young graduates is to be around people who can teach them how to get things done and not just how to navigate the political rapids.

By Nimalan Paul, Manager, Infiniti Research, Mysore, India

Regarding the job market for intelligence analysts in India, I am no expert but here is my take based on what I have seen, read and heard.

National security -

Analyst jobs are possible through positions in RA&W or the IB. Entry into these organizations, like other Indian government organizations is through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The UPSC recruits people for government services ranging from typists to scientists all year round through written tests and interviews across various cities and towns.

I haven't been tracking this for long but have never come across specific requirements for IB or R&AW. What I understand is that people, once selected through the UPSC for a certain "grade" of employment, are then moved on to junior level positions in IB or R&AW. So, in effect, what I understand is that the UPSC recruits for a certain grade of officers who can get drafted into the IB/ R&AW or if luck has it, get into the Indian Postal Service as well (incidentally an ex director of R&AW was previously head of the Indian Postal Service).

Apart from this, the senior officers of R&AW and IB get deputed from the Indian Police Service (IPS) and to some extent from the IAS (Indian Administrative Service). The IPS is the point of entry for someone to reach the upper echelons of the Indian police force. An IPS officer, for instance, starts much higher in the hierarchy and moves ahead faster than a police officer who started as, say, a constable. Entry to the elite IPS / IAS is by means of a rigorous examination and interview.

Once selected, these officers are trained in an exclusive training school and are considered the creme de la creme of Indian youth and groomed for top government roles. Having an IPS or an IAS tag to your name is also highly prestigious. The point is, if you have an IPS tag you might serve in a local police force but then there are very high chances of being deputed either to the R&AW or IB. R&AW and IB have their own training programs for analysts, operatives, and the like which the IPS officer would undergo.

R&AW is also supposed to have its own cadre system like the IPS / IAS called the RAS (Research and Analysis Services) but I have never seen an advertisement or heard anything much about it.

Law Enforcement -

Apart from the police force with its various divisions, we also have the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is something similar to the FBI. Recruitment to the above is also through the UPSC. They have their own training academy in Gurgaon near New Delhi. In the end since its all government service, CBI officers can be deputed to IB and R&AW and vice-versa.

Corporate -

This is, by far, the easiest way to get into intelligence analysis and very transparent - unlike the others. However, not many companies have a competitive intelligence (CI) division and it is only big multinational corporations who have a team of approx. 4-5 people to take care of their intel needs. Examples that come to mind are Oracle, SAP and so on who have teams of less than 10 people to take care of intel needs.

However, from what I understand, recruitment is essentially internal - mainly from the sales / marketing teams because they would know the competition better. A CI executive from a big corporation whom I had the chance to speak to said his job mainly involved helping Sales close deals and since he himself had worked in Sales in the past, it helped.

The other option is to work for market research firms, otherwise referred to as KPO firms (Knowledge Process Outsourcing firms). They need analysts and India has a lot of these KPOs (the biggest being Evalueserve which, incidentally, exhibited at the SCIP Conference this year). These are not pure play CI firms (the word CI is relatively unknown here) and do a lot of market research and other activities for European and US clients. So, in effect, you do not have a specific CI analyst but an analyst who also does CI! Therefore there are very good chances that there are no dedicated CI processes, tools and techniques in these organizations.

To sum it up, in India, there is no clear field of work called "intelligence analysis" nor is there a clear tribe of people called "intelligence analysts" except for government service and they never talk about it.

South Africa
By Dalene Duvenage, Owner, 4Knowledge Analysis Solutions, Johannesburg, South Africa

Glad you asked, but as you would expect, we're in a totally different position. We have no academic programs in intel here...I'm starting an African intel college with Don McDowell in the new year, but it might be only 2011 that we actually present accredited courses. Which means that we're not in the position that graduates from Mercyhurst would be, looking for jobs in intel per se. Also, our analytic cadre is way smaller in "statutory intel" (i.e. domestic, foreign, police and defence intel). I would say it is not bigger than perhaps 400 (most probably nearer to 300).

What is growing is the private sector's investigation or "intel" units. They would normally have investigators with support personnel at the beginning, until they realize or are told about the benefit of having dedicated analysts. Sometimes people from statutory intel will be appointed as managers in these units and they have experience with the benefits of dedicated analysts.

Those in the private sector having the job description of analyst can be found in the banking sector or competitive intel market, with all the variants of names for what they are actually doing. The biggest growth is in the counter-corruption, crime investigation and risk management units of our local, provincial or national government departments or even the private security sector, because our police capacity is so dismal.

These units are separate from the police and have the mandate to secure and prevent crime/corruption in their department or company. Most of these units at this stage do not have dedicated analysts, only investigators, but I'm busy penetrating this market (it sounds a bit self-serving, but it will benefit the profession in the end).

So, if you put the previous number of about 400 in statutory intel and these quasi analysts together it might run up to 1000? Serious thumb sucking here...

The typical scenario at such a private or government investigation unit will be: A manager who has heard about intelligence, is not sure what it means and what it can do for the unit, investigators and support personnel. But it sounds sexy enough, or they have intel background and want someone from the outside to come and convince their employees that this new approach is the best. When I give intel awareness workshops to such a combined group, we go through the intelligence process, they realize what intel can do, how they can work better together to create knowledge and impact on the decision-making level. This bird's eye view course provides everyone a sense of what intel is.

Thereafter, we coach and mentor throughout the career progression of the analyst or manager. (The learning pathway is on my website Those identified to be analysts or do analysis type of work will then do a proper intel analysis course. There are investigators who also attend this course, which helps a lot with the dynamics and post-course inculcation.

As they progress as analysts (and I stress the professionalization of intel analysis), they would come for further courses according to their needs and the learning roadmap. Now the idea with the college is that they could 1) do the diploma or certificate or whatever or 2) they attend these short courses which will then be accredited towards that qualification.

More about the analysts in the statutory environment: Due to our history of amalgamation of all the different intel services after 1994, you will have people with a Masters degrees in anything from social sciences to physical science to people who have no qualifications. Of course, it has an impact on the quality of analysis and all sorts of other ramifications. We also have the same problems re: the long vetting process. I have heard of excellent candidates who just could not wait for a year to be approved and took a job at a private company.

Also, the poor state and stigma of our intel services is definitely something that the connected and inquisitive new generation keep in mind. As with the US, we're also bleeding 45 -60 year old veterans as well as some of the new generation that just could not fit into the paranoid, stove pipe, restrictive culture of our intel. This for me, is the saddest. Which just reinforces that intel has to change, and FAST!

Hope this helped. I'm just starting to scratch the African market, and it seems as though there are only a few analysts and that the same process needs to be followed to let the people realize firstly the benefit of intel-led policing/security/business/risk/intel;) and then see the benefit of dedicated analysts.

Next: Going It On Your Own
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Part 6 -- Beyond Borders (How To Get A Job In Intelligence)

Part 1 -- Introduction
Part 2 -- The Intelligence Job Market From 20,000 Feet
Part 3 -- The Good News!
Part 4 -- Even Better News!
Part 5 -- Beyond The Big Three

So far, I have really only talked about intelligence and intelligence analysis positions within the US. There are actually quite a few ways to find good jobs outside the US as well. There are many reasons to take a job outside the US -- travel, cultural exposure, learning a language, etc. Some of these jobs pay quite well, many are very rewarding and almost all of them are good resume builders.

The first, and probably the easiest, way to get an overseas job is through a US agency or company. Almost all of the US national security intelligence agencies have slots for intelligence professionals overseas and I am not just speaking about covert operatives. Any number of locations (such as the Joint Analysis Center in Molesworth, England) have both civilian and military analysts. Most of these kinds of jobs can best be found through a careful search of

Companies -- and not just US companies -- also sponsor any number of jobs overseas. You can find these jobs by searching various employers' websites and some of them will get listed on the major job boards such as or A keyword to know, however, is "expatriate" (sometimes abbreviated as "expat"). The community of people who are living and working outside their home countries is quite large and the internet has helped this community become better organized. It has been some time since I left this community so I am not sure of the reputable sites out there anymore. If any reader has a lead for the rest of us, please pass it on.

  • One quick tip: Before you take any job in a foreign country with a company or organization you do not know well, touch base with your home country's embassy before you accept the offer. Not everyone is a fly-by-night operator but they do exist. I can't speak for every country's embassy employees but I know the hard working consular officers who manage US citizen services in US embassys would prefer to talk to you before you go rather than after you are in trouble.
Another oft-overlooked place for employment is the International Civil Service Commission. This is the place to look if you want a job in the United Nations system. Though not as well organized as USAjobs, this website gives links to all of the UN agencies and, yes, you have to search each site for jobs within each member agency. Remember as well that the UN doesn't do "intelligence" so what you are really looking for are intelligence-like jobs.

Also remember that the UN works on a quota system. It has an obligation to hire people from around the world so it will not allow certain jobs to get filled up with Americans and Europeans. For non-westerners, this gives you a bit of an edge if you are otherwise qualified but come from a developing country.

Other international organizations are often looking for people with analytic skills if not for "intelligence analysts" per se. Many of them have special hiring restrictions. For example, EUROPOL requires its candidates to be from the EU while INTERPOL is mostly looking for police and other officials who have been seconded by a hosting country to the organization. One good place to look for jobs with international organizations is (as already mentioned in the comments to this series) on

Next: Beyond Borders -- Europe, India and South Africa
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