How to Become a Strategic Analyst (With Key Skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 22, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A strategic analyst seeks to determine an organization's future outlook and direction. Analysts typically apply their expertise across all the different sectors of a business to help identify its needs, define its goals, and communicate its business plan. Understanding the role of an analyst and learning about the professional requirements to excel in this role may help you tailor your skills and experience so you can impress hiring managers during your job search.
In this article, we discuss the role of an analyst, explore why they're important, explain how to become one, and review the key skills necessary to excel in the field.
What is a strategic analyst?
A strategic analyst usually works directly with businesses to assess their needs, goals, and areas of concern. They typically use the results of an assessment to develop a detailed plan that a business may apply to meet its goals and improve its business operations. Businesses may hire analysts for specific product changes or business decisions, or they may employ them to work in-house on long-term planning and business direction forecasting.
Analysts typically specialize in a specific industry and work with clients who do business in their field of expertise. They have detailed knowledge of the industry they work in and typically apply their analyses of trends and industry patterns to business decisions.
Why are strategic analysts important?
By keeping up-to-date with consumer and business trends, analysts are able to ensure that their clients' business choices align with those of the industry. With their specialized knowledge, analysts may be able to provide organizations with useful information before they finalize their business decisions.
Analysts can also act as external sources when evaluating their clients' current business operations. This can provide businesses with clear and objective guidance that may encourage them to make decisions that they thought were unnecessary. External sources may also help find new areas of growth and identify other areas that may require change.
How to become a strategic analyst
If you're looking to become a strategy analyst, the following steps may be useful:
1. Get an education
The first step to becoming a strategy analyst is to get a bachelor's degree. Analysts can choose to get a general business degree or specialize in the field of their choice. General business programs include bachelor degrees in business administration, commerce, or management, while more specific programs may offer specializations, such as consulting, finance, accounting, or marketing. If you've identified the industry you wish to work in, earning a bachelor's degree with a minor in the field of your choice may help make you a more interesting candidate.
2. Grow your network
An important part of your education is growing your network of professional contacts in your chosen field. These connections may teach you valuable skills and provide you with useful information about the role that may be missing in the educational program. These professionals may also be valuable when looking for a position that matches your skills or as mentors during your first few years as an analyst. Networking events in your area are a great way to meet other professionals who may have the same interests as you or who may work in a field that's similar to yours.
3. Gain relevant experience
After completing your education and growing your network, you can start looking for a job that provides experience in your field. While analyst positions typically require between two to four years of experience, there are other positions that may provide you with the experience you need. Internships are a great way to learn more about the role and the industry, and they require little experience. Businesses may work directly with schools to offer candidates positions that may require only a limited knowledge of the industry.
Junior strategist positions are another option for those looking to build their experience as an analyst. While it may be necessary for you to have some experience in these roles, they're a great option once you've completed an internship. Both internships and junior strategist roles may help make you an outstanding candidate when applying for an analyst position.
4. Stay relevant
The skills and industry of analysts are constantly evolving and improving, so it's important they stay relevant in their field. A large and important part of their role typically involves monitoring industry changes, forecasting trends, predicting patterns, and staying ahead in their specialist field. Actively researching your chosen industry and closely monitoring it while you're searching for a job may be useful, and it may be a good idea to continue doing so even after you've found employment. Having industry knowledge may make you an interesting candidate for hiring managers.
Key skills of a strategic analyst
Below are some of the key skills necessary for a strategy analyst:
As an analyst, it's important for you to be able to communicate your ideas and findings to your clients. A large part of your work may involve developing their business plans and strategies. So, you may find that being able to clearly communicate proposals to your clients is important. Having strong communication skills may help you to understand your clients' needs, goals, and feedback, which you can then reflect in the plans and strategies you draw up for them. Skills such as active listening, empathy, and adaptability can make you an excellent communicator.
Read more: How to Improve Communication Skills
An analyst's role involves being able to understand the industry and the businesses that operate in it. As you work to develop plans and strategies for your clients, it may be necessary for you to complete market positioning summaries and understand their major market competitors. Comparing how an organization is performing relative to its competitors may shape its business decisions and affect its financial planning choices. Having competitive analysis skills may help you successfully complete this research and allow you to identify your clients' key strengths and weaknesses relative to their competitors.
For you to develop an in-depth knowledge of the market your clients operate in, a significant amount of research may be necessary. This type of research involves understanding market trends and patterns and being aware of the main driving forces behind the market changes.
Having market research skills may allow you to identify these trends and patterns before other businesses, giving you a competitive edge in your business planning and strategy. These skills may also permit you to identify factors that other businesses may have overlooked, which may allow you to capitalize on them in your strategy.
As analysts are responsible for business planning and forecasting, it may be necessary for them to complete financial calculations and carry out modelling to support their decisions. Financial modelling may provide evidence that explains why the modification of certain decisions or plans may be necessary. Having strong skills in this area may help you to complete these calculations and may also help you to make decisions quickly and effectively, with minimal error. While some larger firms may have specialist teams that provide this data, if you work with smaller businesses, they may expect you to provide the information.
An analyst typically develops plans and strategies and may also implement them. Helping your clients implement long-term plans may involve balancing several goals, deadlines, and tasks as you guide them toward their objectives. Having strong project management skills may provide you with the expertise to oversee all the departments and business divisions working toward a common goal.
Depending on the size of the business you work for, the implementation of its plans and strategies may be your responsibility or that of upper management. One of your key skills as an analyst is being able to implement change throughout an organization.
Identifying current and upcoming trends within a market is a key component of an analyst's job. As the business decisions of your clients depend on this forecasting, being able to provide up-to-date and relevant information is important. Your role may involve analyzing data to identify trends and patterns that a company can include in its strategy. Having strong forecasting skills may allow you to foresee new and future trends and draw conclusions effectively from large amounts of data.
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