Maybe you’re interested in a job as a business analyst (BA), using data analytics to bridge the gap between IT and business. Maybe you’ve already gotten a BA gig but are looking for greener pastures – or higher pay. To really get your job search off the ground, you need to put your resume together, so your LinkedIn profile and the email you’re about to send your future boss put your best foot forward.
We have already given you advice on your CV. But after speaking to a number of current and former business analysts, as well as career specialists and those who work (and hire!) BAs regularly, we came away with some advice tailored to business analysts.
1. Target your CV
One of the oldest clichés in the book is to “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” When you’re job hunting, your resume is the outfit you show off to potential employers — and you need to match their fashion sense. As Courtney Kirschbaum, a corporate career strategist who specializes in preparing business professionals for career pivots and upward career transitions, puts it: “A resume is written for the reader, not the candidate.
“Pay attention to the requirements of the job you’re applying for,” says Dr. Maria Mirzaei, a career and leadership consultant who started her career as a business analyst, “and make sure they match the Job Description. If they want a more technical trading analyst, highlight your technical skills. If they are more interested in a business-focused BA, expand your industry knowledge and use language that demonstrates your deep understanding of their industry.
Kirschbaum is even more outspoken when it comes to tailoring a resume to the specific job you’re applying for: “Your reader won’t respond to what you write unless they see their own words on the page. or LinkedIn profile.” She’s seen a lot of resumes and knows far too many of them aren’t nearly accurate enough.
“The advice I would give to any business analyst who takes their career seriously: don’t load your CV and LinkedIn with slogans like ‘highly motivated starter and team player’ or ‘proven leader and that helps organizations transform,'” she says. “They don’t work and they communicate that you have no idea how you add value or how to tell how you add value.”
2. Use projects as building blocks
While it may not seem intuitive or comfortable at first, the best way to be ready for a career change is to document what you’re doing now so you can brag about it later. For a business analyst, that means keeping track of the specific projects you’ve contributed to, not just maintaining a list of employers.
“Writing a journal of your accomplishments and creating a comprehensive portfolio of the results you’ve helped achieve is one of the best things you can do to ensure your resume is the best it can be,” says Zoë Morris, president of Mason Frank International. “Keeping this accomplishment diary should be a weekly exercise – you should see it as a touchstone rather than a chore. It’s easy to forget the projects and accomplishments that have resulted from it, so it’s extremely important to keep a record.
Having material to draw from makes it easier to focus your resume on each job posting. “Mapping your wins means you can see your own personal growth and strengths as you go, making it much easier for you to pull off the most relevant skills when customizing your resume for a coaching role. particular business analyst,” says Morris.
Diane Davidson, owner of Clever Fox Advisory, agrees with this project-driven approach. Additionally, she structures each project on her resume using what she calls the VAR (vision, action, result) format:
- Vision: “The desired goal of the initiative.”
- Action: “The role I played in the project.”
- Outcome: “This is the outcome of the project, and the most critical part. I always try to tie the benefit to a dollar value or some other metric. »
Davidson shared a bullet point from his own resume to show what the VAR format looks like:
Continuous Improvement Manager leading process improvement initiatives related to the Centrally Managed Procurement Process (CMP) and Virtual Legal Entity Strategy. Provided recommendations to unlock the value trapped in the CMP process to achieve the $7M benefits realization timeline for Q3/Q4. Transition to Deployment Manager responsible for managing the performance improvement team to resolve operational and systematic issues.
3. Use numbers for context and narrative
Other experts we spoke to agreed with Davidson that the numbers matter. As a business analyst, part of your job will be to identify the numbers that illuminate the results of business processes, so it is all the more important that you show these results on your resume.
“If your efforts have improved some measurable metrics, percentages, and revenue, or saved time, be sure to list those numbers,” says Matt Collingwood, VIQU’s CEO. “These tangible successes make your experience stand out.”
In fact, it’s not just your results that can (and should) be quantified on your resume, says Kirschbaum; that’s also all that brought them. “Get the budget for each project,” she says. “Count the team members and vendors you worked with or supervised. How big was the company you worked for? How many employees did they have? What is their market value? It all counts.
Anything on your resume that shows how you got results can only help. “While almost every resume writing article agrees that showing results on your resume is critical, explaining how those results were achieved is often the differentiating factor,” says Alan Jacobson, manager. data and analytics at Alteryx. “A candidate who knows how to re-engineer a process, take advantage of process analytics and automation techniques, with the ability to execute in a data-driven way, is extremely important to most organizations.”
Explain the How? ‘Or’ What can also give other elements of your CV additional weight and authority. “Almost all applicants will say they’re advanced in things like Excel or Python,” says Lindsay Francis, a business analyst in the New York publishing industry. “But are they really? Maybe, but maybe not. Be sure to specify how you use these programs and describe the results you produce.
In fact, you should dig into everything you’ve done to clarify what you know how to use and what you’ll be ready to do on day one. Anton Derkach, head of delivery at Intellectsoft, says technology managers involved in the hiring process will especially want this information. “It would be great to specify what artifacts the analyst needs to work with (backlog, epics, user stories, project scope breakdown, scope of work, change requests, etc.) and what tools were used for documentation ( Confluence, Jira, Spreadsheets, emails, UML diagrams, etc.),” he says.
That said, tailoring your CV to its readers means including different levels of technical knowledge, since there will likely be more than one reader of your CV wherever you apply. “Often a human resources representative will be the first to review your application, so be sure to briefly describe the software and programs you use,” says Francis. “If you use Tableau, you can add that it is data visualization software. Not only will this give the HR representative an idea of the software if they are unfamiliar with it, but it will also help get your resume through any automated filtering programs the company may be using.
5. Sell your skills
Even if you don’t have experience specific to the industry you’re applying for, tailor your job application as best you can by determining which skills you can boast of that might apply. “The beauty of being a business analyst is that you can move across different industries,” says Francis, whose career began in healthcare before moving into publishing. “Showcasing adaptable and versatile skills on your resume is a great way to set yourself apart. A hiring manager may want a candidate who knows the industry well, but most of the time they want someone who is adaptable and able to do the job.
This is true whether you’re a business analyst new to your target industry or looking to lock in your first BA job, says VIQU’s Collingwood. “Where have you demonstrated requirements gathering abilities, probing details, exemplifying good attention to detail and people management skills?” he asks. “Think about where you’ve used them in your previous jobs or even as part of your degree.”
6. Keep it brief, recent, and free of errors
We’ve given you plenty of suggestions here, but don’t think your resume should be an epic tome. “Keep it short,” advises VIQU’s Collingwood. “Your CV should be two or three pages maximum. Don’t be tempted to write more.
One way to reduce this is to showcase your latest hits: “Make sure your newer projects get more detail and roles from ten years ago get just one line,” he says. . (Although that doesn’t mean everything should be a strictly chronological list; remember what we said about extracting the most relevant projects for your target work.)
And finally, Collingwood offers the same (very good) advice that job seekers have been getting since time immemorial: “It seems obvious, but proofread your resume. I’ve lost count of the number of times clients have drawn attention to candidates for their attention to detail, and as a business analyst, attention to detail is very important.
Correctly spelling the name of the company you want to work for won’t land you that job, but spelling it incorrectly will definitely cause you to lose it.
Learn more about the Business Analyst role: