Practical Tips for Getting Your First BA Role

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I have spoken to a number of people recently who are keen to get into the business analysis profession.  This can be tricky, as many roles specifically require a certain number of years of BA experience before a candidate can even be considered.  This can lead to a ‘chicken and egg’ cycle… without experience, it’s tricky getting a first role.  But without a role, it is tricky getting experience!  This blog post is an attempt to capture some thoughts on how to overcome this.  It’d be great if you could add your own thoughts into the comments section—that way hopefully this will evolve as a useful set of ideas for those entering the profession.

Overcoming the “No Experience” Doom Loop

One crucial fact to keep in mind when applying for roles is that you don’t have to have the title “business analyst” to be undertaking business analysis.  The International Institute of Business Analysis® describe a BA as:

“Any person who performs business analysis, no matter what their job title or organisational role”

(IIBA® BABOK® v3)

This has an important implication: If you have a BA mind-set, there is a good chance that you are already undertaking some elements of business analysis in your role, and there might even be the possibility of expanding this to cover even more ground.  Of course it’s unlikely that you’ll be undertaking the full breadth of a BA role, but you may well be undertaking some crucial parts of it.  This can be true even in the most seemingly unlikely of roles—a call centre advisor, for example, may have gained significant experience of defining and improving processes alongside their ‘core’ job.  It is worth actively seeking out these types of experiences, as well as cataloguing the experience that you already have so that it can be added to your CV or Résumé.

Get to Know Common Approaches, Techniques and ‘Lingo’

As with any profession, there are a whole range of approaches, techniques and even a common ‘language’ that BAs speak.  It is worth becoming familiar with this, as this will help to gauge the areas where you already have experience (which is an advantage) and those where you don’t. It isn’t essential to have knowledge and experience of every conceivable technique, but there are a number of ‘core’ concepts that are useful in just about every BA role. There are plenty of blogs, webinars, courses, books and other resources out there that can help.  It is also very valuable to consider a foundation or entry level certification programme.  Whilst this isn’t essential, it might just give you the edge over other candidates.

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