Skills for Social Media Analytics

Here are some of the skills for a scientist position for Social Media Analytics from a government organization in USA:

  • Concept categorization
  • Topic classification/topic modeling
  • Natural language processing
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Opinion mining
  • Entity or relationship extraction
  • Social network analysis
  • Swarm-based opinion prediction and
  • Text mining of social media

The Mismatch Problem

I was watching this video of Malcolm Gladwell’s talk over the weekend and enjoyed every minute of it.  Malcolm has the uncanny ability to look at problems in new ways. He was talking about the challenges in finding the right people to hire in various professions. He calls it the “mismatch problem”   According to Malcolm, the problem exists because:

  1. Our desire for certainty in a world where uncertainty is the norm
  2. The growing complexity of every profession increases mismatch

He points out, how, in various fields from sports to teaching, metrics used to select candidates do not really reflect the reality of the changing requirements of the job.

In software we do the same. We try to measure some of the basic skills like knowledge of software development including programming, conceptual understanding, ability to solve simple problems. The true attributes, however, are more complex and are not easy to measure in a test or in a few interviews. These include the ability to work in a team, ability to learn and communicate, a healthy curiosity and a certain amount of pride in work. Our challenge is to figure out how to train our employees in these  new skills.

The New Skills?

What are the skills required for handling future jobs?

I found this report  from National Academies Press. A few skills listed in this document include:

  1. Creative Problem Solving
  2. Complex Communication Skills
  3. Adaptability
  4. Self-management
  5. Self-development
  6. Systems thinking

From my experience of working across two continents, I would like to add a few more:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Cross cultural training
  3. Curiosity
  4. Inspired and Inspiring (got this from a job ad at Forrester’s research)

I want to dwelve a bit on “Self Management”. I use it as a primary metric to hire people since I do not believe in supervising or managing people. I found that many people who are great at managing themselves do it because they believe in a cause, passionate about what they do or extremely proud of their work.

How do you develop these competencies? Or even explain why they are important? That is the challenge that requires a lot of innovation in teaching or coaching.

Also See:

Malcolm Gladwell on the challenge of hiring in the modern world.


This post was triggered by an email from ACM news about a study done in Ireland. Looking at the study, I felt that some of these problems have global implications. So I started searching on “future skills” India, USA.