For someone looking to get into a Business Analyst job after having pursued a different career, one of the biggest challenges is framing your experience in a way that seems directly relevant to an employer seeking to hire a BA. The first thing the employer sees is the title on the top of your resume.
The resume title serves as an overall summary of everything you’ve done. So what does it say? If your resume title calls you something completely unrelated to Business Analysis, there is a risk that your resume may be set aside because the employer doesn’t see a direct relationship between your title and the position he seeks to fill. There are ways of getting around this problem, which we’ll explore in other blog posts. But for now I want to talk about when you can justifiably adopt the Business Analyst title on the top of your resume if you have never worked full-time in a Business Analyst capacity.
It goes without saying that Rule #1 of creating a resume is that you must always tell the truth about the experience you actually have. In the age of Google and social media, where it is so easy to get information about anyone, it’s career suicide to be dishonest about the work experience you have. So while it’s fine to frame your actual experience in the most positive possible light for yourself, that’s as far as you should go. So how do you pick an advantageous resume title that is both truthful and beneficial to your Business Analysis job search?
Here is a key point: the resume title is intended to be a summarization of everything you have ever done at work that you want to showcase to a prospective employer. Since we can carry different titles throughout our career, you have to pick a resume title that somehow brings it all together. That overall resume title may or may not be a title you had in a previous position, especially because the official titles we are given at work often bears no relationship to the real day-to-day work that we do. To use myself as an example, I have carried many position titles over the course of my career, not all of which seemed directly related to Business Analysis. Examples of titles I have officially held include “software engineer,” “systems consultant,” “principal consultant,” “systems engineer,” “systems analyst,” and “solution architect.” Nevertheless, if I am looking for a Business Analyst job I will list “Business Analyst” at the top of the resume because of my overall business analysis experience.
Another important point is that there is no strict definition of what a Business Analyst is. You can only call yourself a lawyer if you passed the bar exam, or a doctor if you are licensed by your medical board. With Business Analysis the answer is not nearly so clear cut, and relies much more on the nature and quality of your work experience.
So the question here really is: What can you justifiably call yourself given your experience? Can you justify calling yourself a Business Analyst in your resume title if you have never held a position officially called “Business Analyst?”
The key here is to find definite experiences in your background that would justify the label of Business Analyst regardless of what you are actually called. If you have performed activities such as business process modeling, gathering requirements, or created a business case (among other business analysis-related activities) then you may want to consider use of the Business Analyst resume title.
The other consideration is the amount of business analysis-related experience you can validly claim. If you spent five minutes out of a ten year career thinking about a business problem, that probably doesn’t qualify as real business analysis. The experiences you point to should be substantial enough that it made some kind of difference to you and/or your employer, whether or not it was an official part of your job title or job description.
The advantages of using the title of Business Analyst as the main resume title for the career changer are clear: the employer will find a direct relationship to the job position and look deeper into your experience to see if there is a good fit. So consider using the title on your resume if you can directly justify it by virtue of your experience and the amount of time spent on that experience, even if you have never held an official “Business Analyst” job before.
Having trouble finding the key experiences in your background to support calling yourself a Business Analyst on your resume? My course can help. Check out Transfer Your Skills: How To Leverage The Experience You Already Have To Find The Perfect Business Analyst Job.