People from different walks in life explore and switch careers to business analysis. They have marketing, finance, operations, customer service or software development backgrounds. Some started careers as financial analysts, developers, customer service agents or technicians. They may be graduates from computer science, communications, social sciences, or business administration programs.
While business analysis is taught as a discipline in some undergraduate programs, it is not a mainstream degree and usually requires additional courses and training.
Are you interested in business analysis and wondering what path to take? Here is a roadmap to help you, with suggested resources provided further in this article.
A. Assess whether business analysis is for you.
Do you know what you would be getting into? What skills do you need? What you will be doing all day? What are business analysis activities and deliverables? What traits will help you succeed? Article, video, webinar recording.
B. Build a career transition project.
Once you follow suggested steps and assess your skill and competency gaps, put together a professional development plan. Here is how you can structure it:
C. Catch up on business analysis fundamentals.
You need to understand the discipline, its terminology, concepts and building blocks:
D. Develop skills and competencies.
E. Expand your knowledge.
Find the resources that you like and keep returning to them: read articles, blogs, watch videos, attend webinars. Subscribe to relevant newsletters such as Why Change newsletter and others. If you like a certain style of content, you are much more likely to stick with it and absorb the information.
Don’t forget to utilize a variety of learning strategies – try to explain to a friend what you have just learn about a business analysis concept.
F. Focus on business modelling.
Surprisingly, very few new and aspiring business analysts are good at creating models and diagrams, at most being able to draw a simple process flow. Modelling is a valuable skill for a business analyst that can give you an edge as a job candidate.
G. Get ready for a career change.
Assess your readiness. Professional knowledge is not enough; make sure you have a realistic financial plan and expectations, and get your emotional and mental strength to deal with potential disruptions and challenges. Discuss your plans with your support network – family or friends, so that you have someone to lean on in case of financial, emotional or logistical problems.
Need help? Go back to Pivot Your Career to Business Analysis – Webinar for tips, discuss your situation with a recruiter or get help from a professional coach.
H. Hone your resume
Set aside a good amount of time to work on your resume. It needs to be clear, factual, and specific. Your resume needs to communicate whether you can be a good business analyst. Avoid common BA resume mistakes, and be beware of the biggest mistake – do not lie on your resume. If you doubt yourself and worry about lack of experience, remember that you may have more experience than you think.
If you need help at this point, one-on-one career coaching may be a good investment. A coach can assess your career, suggest next steps, help you improve your resume and practice answering interview questions. With a career coach, you can also discover typical mistakes you make in interviews, learn how to present your skills and knowledge effectively, and feel more confident.
I. Interview practice
Practice, practice and practice for upcoming interviews. Practice with your friends or your partner, record yourself on video, write down the best stories from your career and work on telling them in a few brief sentences. Figure our what are your main strength and how you can sell them during the resume. Prepare for tricky questions.
This is another step where a career coach can help you improve. And use every interview as a learning opportunity – ask your interviewer for feedback at the end and assess what you did well and what went wrong, was embarrassing, awkward or unexpected. You will get better after every practice.
If this feels like a long process, don’t be intimidated.
Any career change seems a big challenge at first, but the goal is also lofty. Like any project, it can (and should) be broken down into manageable tasks. Practice your business analysis and project management skills on the important task of preparing yourself for the next career move.
As you practice business analysis, you will also develop your BA mindset, which will help you succeed, regardless of where your professional path will take you.
Use videos, articles and courses mentioned in this article, and explore other resources. Find what works for you, and then take full advantage of it. Best of success!
Yulia Kosarenko is the author of Business Analyst: a Profession and a Mindset. She is a speaker and the business analysis community activist, and offers online courses, personalized coaching and corporate training for business analysts and architects.