How to change your career from being a subject matter expert into becoming a qualified Business Analyst
There are a variety of different types of professionals today who are either already placed in a pseudo Business Analysis role but are not really qualified as a Business Analyst or they are planning to change their careers to become Business Analysts. Does this perhaps sound like you or someone you currently work with?
This article will outline the broad steps with specific examples and ideas for people to follow in order to redirect their careers towards becoming the Business Analyst that they are aspiring to be.
Steps that you should take to change your current career to that of a Business Analyst:
These steps don’t necessarily have to be completed in sequential order but it very important that you do all the steps outlined and ensure you cover each step in detail while applying it to your our personal circumstance.
Step 1: Set the goal to become a Business Analyst
Many people who have said that they want to become Business Analysts have not necessarily set a specific goal with a specific timeframe for achieving the role as a Business Analyst. This is an essential first step for anybody who wants to change their careers to become Business Analysts.
A key part of this goal is to visualize the end goal where you already are within the role of a Business Analyst. You must also set a specific date for achieving the goal. Once you know the date to aim for you can start working out all the steps that you need to follow to achieve that goal. This means you work out your action plan by working back wards.
Example goal: I am working in a Business Analysis role by 31 May 2016.
Now you have work out what specifically you plan to do in order to be in the position you are describing by the specified date. But before you start pulling the career change plan together, first consider and action each of the remaining steps below.
Step 2: Become familiar with what it means to be a Business Analyst
Regardless of your professional background, you must make sure that you get more familiar with what it means to be a Business Analyst. This is a crucial step because not only will it help inform you about the business analysis profession but it will also enable you to do the next step, which involves analyzing your current career and work experience in detail.
Ideas for how to get familiar with Business Analysis:
- Do some fundamentals training courses. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start by doing formally endorsed courses in Business Analysis straight away, but rather that you need to use the tools and training available around you to get this familiarity of what Business Analysis entails before proceeding. Find out whether your current company (if you are currently working) has free in-house training for you to take advantage of or simply jump onto youtube.com and watch some of the free online training videos there. This will already help you in understanding some of the fundamentals of Business Analysis.
- Join Business Analysis forums online. A great place to learn more about Business Analysis is to join the LinkedIn Discussion Groups. There are many Business Analysis groups on a variety of topics and people are very willing to help answer questions. Just be cautious whom you take advice from on LinkedIn because anyone can comment and provide their opinion about anything.
- Consider joining a local networking group for Business Analysts in your local area. It is a great way to start mixing with people who is already doing the role of Business Analysis.
- Books. There are of course an endless supply of books available online for you to read. A useful starting point will be looking at the BABOK® Guide from a general perspective (don’t try and read it yet!) to get a high level general familiarity with the knowledge areas or topics which forms part of the Business Analysis profession.
Step 3: Analyze your current work experience.
This is an important step for you to complete. Now that you have some understanding of what Business Analysis entails, you will be able to carefully consider all your past work experience to see whether you have skills and experience which is closely related to some of the key business analysis tasks being performed by Business Analysts. Two typical examples of transferrable skills between almost any profession and business analysis include the following: stakeholder relationship management and requirements gathering related tasks. These are the easiest two tasks to relate to and are often the first step towards transforming current work experience into some useful future business analysis skills to utilize.
You can answer these example questions to see whether you too have some of these transferrable skills as part of your previous work experience:
- Have you needed to talk to customers about what they needed or required in terms of a particular service or product that you have supported in a previous role?
- Have you ever needed to work with stakeholders to really understand exactly what it is they need and why they needed that particular thing for a product or service, which you have supported?
- Did you spend any time in any previous work experience where you needed to document and confirm with a customer what their needs or requirements were in relation to the service or product you have supported?
- In your previous roles, did you ever need to solve any problems?
- Have you ever needed to manage a stakeholder’s expectations, communicate with them about their needs and negotiate an agreeable solution?
- Have you ever had to demonstrate how something works to a customer in order for the customer to be able to explain to you what it was they required?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, there is a good chance that you may be able to transfer some requirement gathering, clarification and validation type skills which are very closely aligned to your previous experience when you discuss a potential Business Analysis role with someone. You will also be able to emphasize your stakeholder engagement (customer service) experience with examples of when you had to negotiate, communicate and come to an agreement with stakeholders about a particular product or service. Your experience in these areas will likely be similar types of experience than that what a Business Analyst do as part of their role.
The above is just an example of how you can go about the task of analyzing your previous work experience with that of what a Business Analyst need to be able to do. The more relevant experience you can find in your previous work experience the easier it will be for you to transfer your skills and experience into a role as a Business Analyst.
If you answered “no” to most of the questions you should not be disheartened because there are still other avenues to explore and actions that you can take to transform your career to that of a Business Analyst. Let’s now continue on by considering these other factors.
Step 4: You are a specialist in something already.
As a professional in any field we have specialist skills, which we have gained through our work lives. This can almost always be made good use of by keeping our eyes and ears open for a role, which requires the specialist knowledge you already have as part of the Business Analysis role you are pursuing. For example, you may have a background in the health sector where you may not have been a business analyst in before but you have worked in the subject matter area of Health or Medicine. This is a great advantage you will have over other people who may also be pursuing a junior business analysis role in the Health sector based Company. You will stand out because you are already familiar with the Health Sector based on previous experience. Therefore, use this to your advantage to make the career change to become a business analyst by seeking opportunities for Business Analysts within industries and sectors you already have some experience in. This is simply another factor to consider in your planning for how to achieve your goal of becoming a business analyst.
Step 5: Education is always a good.
Everyone is slightly different and every person has a different combination of factors to put together when shaping their plans to become a business analyst. Education is a factor that you can choose to include in your plans to put some proof of formal knowledge in place on your Business Analyst resume. There are many different ways you could choose to get training but always make sure you consider the important factors of any Business Analysis Training Provider. When you have recent training within Business Analysis on your resume, you will appear as if you are serious about the Business Analysis role and having done the training recently will also be an advantage on the resume. If you already have relevant training and you feel confident you have enough transferrable experience, you may delay doing the formal training as a later milestone for your career change plans. Read this short article which outlines specific considerations when choose your training provider.
Step 6: Transform your resume.
A lot of people tend to procrastinate when it comes to putting the time aside to update their resumes. If you think about this task in a different way you may feel more inspired to follow these instructions carefully: Imagine the recruitment agent sifting through hundreds of resumes looking for a suitable Business Analyst to fill a Business Analysis role. Imagine you don’t update your resume to reflect your newly identified Business Analysis experience (as determined during step 2) in your current experience on your resume and imagine you are still being represented as the previous role you were in. Do you think the recruitment agent will even see your resume among the other hundred? No, of course they won’t. Although this article will not go into depth about how to write your Business Analyst Resume effectively but will highlight the following 2 very basic and essential things you must do before attempting to apply for Business Analysis positions:
- Update your resume to reflect that you have Business Analysis related experience by using the same terminology that Business Analysts use when you describe your previous experience. For example, say stakeholder management rather than customer management and so forth.
- Highlight the Business Analysis training you have completed (if you decided to do some training).
- Also ensure that you have written a unique and specific Business Analyst cover letter for each job application you do!
Putting all these factors together
Now that you have read through the different steps or factors that can play an important part in your career change to business analysis you should also keep the following in mind.
Every person will have a combination of these factors within their background and experience that they can use to a greater or lesser degree to enhance their progress towards achieving the goal of becoming a Business Analyst. You should work towards maximizing as much of each factor as what you are able to because that will bring you closer to the goal of becoming a business analyst.
The person who remains focused on achieving the goal of becoming a business analyst regardless of any challenges or additional efforts required for success is also the person who becomes a business analyst. Best of luck in your plans to become a business analyst, it is achievable and a great career to embark on.
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