The business analyst role is one of the most sought-after careers in the world today. In 2020, LinkedIn rated it within its top 10 career paths to break into. Despite this, there’s still a level of uncertainty as to how to become a business analyst today’s market.
In this blog, I’ll use my 11 years’ experience in the industry to break down the top 4 steps you can take today to become a business analyst:
Step 1 – Learn the fundamentals of business analysis & decide whether it’s the career for you
Pursuing a career in business analysis, whilst lucrative can take time and money. Before you decide it’s a profession you wish to pursue, it would be important to understand the basics, to see if you’d be happy in the career path.
If you’re looking to get bit more knowledge in the field, feel free to check out my free business analysis training which I recently put together, it covers the main activities you’ll be undertaking as a BA and you’ll get a good understanding as to whether it’s a career for you:
Step 2 – Become Qualified
Qualifications are important. The business analyst market is becoming ever more regulated and in 5-10 years’ time it’ll be almost impossible to get a role without being qualified. But where do you start? Do you need a degree? Do you need an MBA?
The simple answer is no, neither a degree or MBA is a pre-requisite to breaking into the business analysis field. They may slightly help with your positioning but they by no means provide a guarantee to breaking into the role.
The most respected institution for business analysis accreditation internationally is the BCS (British Computer Society). Through them, you can attain the diploma in business analysis. The diploma is well received by the vast majority of employers today. However, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to complete (1+ year).
If you’re looking to break into the field a bit faster and don’t have time to waste – the foundation in business analysis is a great place to start and can be completed in a matter of weeks. Most employers will take you on with just the foundation, as long as you show an appetite and willingness to study more in the future.
Step 3 – Get experience
Experience is vital to becoming a business analyst. Employers are much more likely to hire someone with a bit of experience under their belt. If you’re already a working professional, you may already have all the experience you need to secure a role, it may just a case of highlighting your key transferrable skills on your CV/LinkedIn profile. If you’re struggling for experience, for example, recently out of school or college/university – it might be a good idea to go and do some voluntary work. In the short-term you may take a hit on your finances, but it will vastly improve your chances of breaking into the field.
Step 4 – Tailor your CV/LinkedIn accordingly
The skills required to be a successful business analyst change over time. For example, 10 years ago most employers wanted BA’s to have a good understanding of lean six sigma methodology, today it is Agile.
Keeping up with the required trends in skillset can be an exhausting process but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to find the skills that are currently trending is to simply go on job boards and look for business analyst roles. Find skills that recur frequently and make a note of them. To give you some assistance, when I recently undertook this activity, I noticed GAP analysis, process mapping and requirements engineering consistently came up on over 100 job specs that I analysed
Once you’ve established the skillset, it’s important to find as much material as possible to study and understand those skills, when you feel comfortable you know them – place them on your CV and LinkedIn profile respectively.
From a LinkedIn perspective, you have to understand that a LinkedIn profile is very similar to an amazon landing page.
An amazon seller is looking to sell their product and you’re looking to sell your skills. Besides price, what’s the one thing you look at before buying a product on amazon? I’m guessing you thought reviews? As humans, we instinctively look for other people to say a product or service is good before we buy, hence why the products with more 5* star reviews on amazon tend to sell better.
The same goes for you and your LinkedIn profile, the more people that endorse and recommend you on LinkedIn, the more likely a recruiter is going to message you and as a result your chances of landing a role as a business analyst sky rocket.
It’s good practice to reach out to your ex-colleagues and those you are currently working/studying with to ask for endorsements – it really does help!
As we wrap up, just a reminder, before you choose to pursue a career in business analysis, it’s vitally important you find that it’s the right fit for you. The last thing you want to be doing is spending time and effort on a career you won’t be happy with. Once that’s been done, focus on your qualification, getting experience and tailoring your CV/LinkedIn profile – if you take all those steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a business analyst in 2021.