Step 1: Learn about Business Analysis and Confirm Your Career Choice
As it would be with any profession, building knowledge of business analysis is an important part of determining your career path. Becoming knowledgeable about the role of business analysts is only the first step. The biggest mistake we see with many aspiring BA’s are spending way too much time on this step while neglecting the realities of the next four. Alternatively, we see a lot of professionals get over-invested in business analysis only to discover the career isn’t a good fit for them. That’s why we recommend learning just enough to determine if business analysis is the right choice for you.
Step 2: Identify Your Transferable Skills and Leverage Points to Develop Your Positioning
As a mid-career professional, you most likely qualify for a subset of BA jobs already. (Don’t be frustrated by only qualifying for a subset – even the most experienced BAs do not qualify for all BA jobs.) Many professionals are able to skip right past entry-level BA positions by identifying their transferable skills and unique qualifications from their career backgrounds. You may also be able to open up opportunities within a slice of business analysis or in a transitional role.
Transferable skills come from experiences using business analysis techniques in a non-BA role. MindsMapped shares a process for translating your skills into the field: Whether or not you have a deep career history in business analysis, it’s likely that one or more elements of your career history give you expertise to leverage into business analysis. Whether it’s your knock-your-socks off communication skills or your deep experience in a relevant industry domain, you have a quality that potential managers are specifically hiring for.
Step 3: Get Tangible Feedback by Putting Out Feelers
Once you’ve built up your confidence in your choice and your skills, it’s time to get some real, tangible feedback. This could mean sharing your career goals with your manager and asking for more opportunities to practice BA techniques. Or, it could mean circulating your resume to a few recruiters or applying for a few business analyst jobs.
The point of this exercise isn’t necessarily to find the right opportunity (though if that happens right off the bat, that’s a lucky bonus), but to get feedback about how your goals are perceived by those that work with you or are in a position to hire you. You may be surprised to learn that a specific skill is extremely marketable and can provide an entryway into a business analyst role. Or you might be given some ideas for strengthening your positioning even further. Which leads us to the next step.
Step 4: Approach Your Work with a BA Mindset and Strengthen Your Positioning:
As part of the analysis you did in step two, you may have discovered some gaps. Add these to your professional development plan and explore opportunities to fill them through volunteer positions or by building on-the-job business analyst experience. What we see is that one business analysis task tends to lead to another, creating a cycle of new opportunities and expanded experience.
Practice techniques such as:
- Improving a business process
- Facilitating meetings
- Crafting use cases
- Scoping projects
- Eliciting information
As you cultivate a BA mindset, you’ll find that business analysis begets business analysis. Once you see your first opportunity, several more sprout up right in front of you. It’s a circle that can lead you to a full-fledged business analysis role, step-by-step.
Step 5: Focus Your Efforts to Find Your First BA Opportunity:
In time, you may qualify for a business analysis role in your organization, or be in a position to propose a business analyst role in your firm. But not all job situations provide the same opportunities. Some BAs find themselves looking outside their organization for their first BA jobs. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be pure to be a business analyst and that you’re in charge of what success looks like.