How Do I Start A Business Analysis Career?

 
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Question

Hi there,

I am a science graduate who has recently completed an ISEB diploma in Business Analysis and am currently teaching myself PRINCE2.

However the biggest stumbling block I, and I’m sure many others, are finding is that since I am at the start of my career (25), no one will give you that critical first job to let you get some experience.

As such I was wondering if there is any advice anyone could offer, either on how to become a BA or which other jobs I could look at to help get some relevant experience in another role.

I feel like I am stuck, being overqualified for lot of jobs (I took a Masters Degree in Physics which seems to turn away most potential employers) and lacking experience for others.

So any advice?

Many thanks

Alex

Answer

As simple as it may sound; if you want to be a business analyst, the first step is to learn business analysis. Certifications and college degrees can help you but a hiring manager will still want to see proof that in all your learning you also gained the skills needed to do the job of a business analyst.

Landing Your First Business Analyst Job

After you have taken the time to learn business analysis your next step is to actually get hired. This is typically a gradual process and not an overnight experience.

Don’t narrow your search to only the biggest and best job out there.

The process should be similar to watching a toddler learn to eat. When the child takes too large a bite, there is a risk of choking. It is eating the small, bite-sized portions that allows the toddler to grow a functional young kid.

Likewise, landing your first job on your journey to becoming a business analyst works in a series of steps that allow you to gain the experience you need, write a solid resume’ and ace that important job interview to get started as a business analyst.

Resume Writing for Business Analyst Jobs

How well written is your resume?

One skill a hiring manager will look for in a business analyst candidate is whether or not you have excellent writing skills, which will show in the way you write your resume.

Properly documenting every process is vital in the business analyst’s position. Start by presenting your writing skills on paper in the form of your resume’.

Does it express a true picture of where you want to go and what you have to offer an organization? Or, is it merely a long boring list of your past so-called accomplishments?

The biggest mistake you can make to close a potential door of opportunity is to rehash every perceived achievement and never address the tangible benefits you have to offer the company.

Instead, your resume needs to be a story of how your knowledge, skills and experience can truly help the company achieve their desired goals.Your resume also needs to present a clear picture of what is in it for the company.

Some areas to address in your resume could include how you have engaged appropriate stakeholders throughout a project, how you achieved a positive ROI or show how you had a hand in improving, building or defining a process.

Incorporate how you have engaged appropriate stakeholders from start to finish and how you have worked with multiple organizations to establish a diverse professional experience in different industries.

Make it clear how these events have shaped your skills to better the organization at hand.

Interviewing Skills for Business Analyst Positions

Another important skill every business analyst needs is excellent verbal communication skills which also shows in how you conduct your interview.

Express your excellent verbal communication skills in how you conduct yourself in an interview.

Like standardized tests, some people know the information but are not good test takers. The same is true with interviewing well.

You may have all the qualifications for becoming a successful business analyst, but you first have to make a good impression during your job interview to get your foot in the door.

Discover the guidelines for acing an interview. This begins with practice. Rehearse for your interview. Practice with a set of answers to potential interview questions such as:

  1. Describe the steps that a project would take from the initial conception to the final deployment / product launch.
  2. Which Is Better, Spiral or Waterfall Development?
  3. Describe what application usability means.
  4. What is the extent of your IT or programming experience?

Gaining Handson Experience for Business Analysts Jobs

Your career path to becoming a business analyst is not an all or nothing proposition.

Start by building a solid foundation for your promising career as a business analyst by accepting a job where you can gradually acquire the qualifications needed.

Do this in a step by step fashion and not as one big leap.

Do not feel like you have to get your dream job on the very first offer. Instead, focus on getting smaller roles where you can practice your newly learned business analysis skills in a work environment that allows for growth and eventually moving into a more challenging position.

Choose your job offers wisely as if selecting your first course in a multi-course banquet. By the time you get to the delicious dessert (your ultimate goal of becoming a business analyst), it will be satisfying and well worth your time spent.

Get started right where you are by preparing some of the documents that business analysts create. For example, focus on creating a UML or Use Case document.

Take copious notes during meetings or volunteer to conduct meetings where you can gain facilitation and presentation skills.

Constantly look for areas where you can put your skills to use through offering real help to your company.

As you gain experience, be sure to document everything so you build a solid resume portfolio. With each new task you take on, you are one step closer to a promising career as a business analyst while employed and being paid for your work.

Begin one step at a time.

Switch focus from trying to get that “big break” to getting your foot in the door with a “bite-sized portion” role.

In the short – term, apply your effort to gaining the necessary knowledge + skills + experience and you will be successful in the long-term in your business analyst career goals.

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    3 Responses to "How Do I Start A Business Analysis Career?"

    1. Business Analysts Training   December 14, 2011 at 9:13 PM

      Are You Overqualified?

      Having a Masters Degree in Physics will not make you overqualified.

      As a matter of fact, focusing on your college education by thinking that you are over-qualified or under-qualified is going to prove a distraction.

      Start By Learning Business Analysis?

      If you want to be a business analyst, your first job should be to learn business analysis.

      If your PRINCE2 Certificate is in Project Management, you are still not prepared for a business analyst job.

      Anyway, while preparing for a business analyst career, your first job is to learn business analysis.

      How To Get That First Job?

      If you have taken the time to learn business analysis, then your next step is to start auditioning for business analyst jobs just like how an actor goes about preparing for his career

      First, don’t feel like you have to pin your hopes on getting that first big job.

      Instead, focus on getting smaller roles where you can try out your new business analysis skills in a less challenging environment before moving on to a more challenging job.

      For example, you may start with preparing a few of the documents that business analysts create.

      This could mean first focusing on just creating UML / Use Case documents, taking notes during meetings, etc.

      For example, you can work on your documentation skills first before you start working on presentation / meeting facilitation skills.

      So, you don’t have to pin your hopes on getting the first break as a business analyst.

      Any role or job or responsibility that allows you to exercise some business analysis skills is a step in the right direction because, as you document your experience, your resume grows. And if you continue growing your resume, you will become qualified for a business analyst job.

      So, all you have to do, is switch focus from getting that big break to getting smaller breaks that add up to a big break!

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      • Alex   January 6, 2012 at 9:47 AM

        Thanks for the reply, however I am unable to get any smaller roles from which I can put into practice the skills I have developed during my Business analysis training.

        My resume is a little thin as I have struggled to find a full time job (paid anyway, I have been volunteering with oxfam for over a year now) since graduating college.

        From the little feedback I have been able to gather this lack of previous experience is the biggest problem potential employers have.

        Alex

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        • Business Analysts Training   January 17, 2012 at 1:19 AM

          There are several reasons why you may find it hard to get a business analyst job as a well-educated professional (PRINCE2, ISEB, Post Graduate Degree).

          Here are a few:

          Resume Writing

          How well written is your resume? Does it portray where you are going instead of where you are coming from?

          Interviewing Skills?

          How good are you at the job interview? Have you taken the time to rehearse and practice for your interview? How large is the set of answers you are practicing with?
          Do you know what the guidelines for acing interviews is?

          Quality Of Experience

          Not all experience is created equal. You really want to go where the money is. I have two (2) new articles that I have written to explain this to you:

          How To Get Extensive Hands-on Experience In Information Technology

          This Type Of Hands-On Experience Can JumpStart Your Career!

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