One of the most commonly asked questions from aspiring business analysts is, "How can I apply to BA jobs when I have no work experience?". In the field of business analysis, business-related experience of any form, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, counts and should be emphasized. This is because the experience needed for Business Analysis is not necessarily restricted to a particular field but in most cases, cuts across diverse fields. The popular soft skills you have picked up (e.g. communication, emotional intelligence, etc) are also transferable to business analysis and if you have enough of it and some domain knowledge under your belt, you might be able to skip entry-level business analyst positions. Another common query is, How do I gain experience without having worked as a BA?". This article addresses both questions.
Learn From Other Business Analysts
Networking is key to enhancing your chances of employment. Remember, Senior BAs were not always senior. They started from somewhere. Speak to other business analysts, peers and mentors about how they reached where they are today. You will get information about the kinds of experiences you can expect as a BA and professional advice that may come in handy. Discuss with them about what their job entails, what challenges they face and how they are able to cope with those challenges (See Do You Face Any of These Challenges As A Business Analyst?). Another important subject of discussion is the resources (Websites, knowledge bases, etc.) they employ to improve their practice and become better at their jobs.
Join business analysis communities, forums and platforms that discuss job opportunities, resources and tips. Doing some basic groundwork on what the profession entails would give you some level of confidence to exploit opportunities that might come your way. See a list of Top Business Analyst Websites and Blogs to Follow. This groundwork can also help you uncover business analysis tasks you may been involved in unwittingly.
Do Some Research On BA Work Deliverables
Translating users’ needs into business requirements, which is the primary task of business analysts, is a complicated skill to master but aspiring BAs can learn a great deal by scanning through samples of project documents and business analysis deliverables. Some categories of documents that can give you a fair insight into business analysis deliverables include Business Cases, Functional Requirements Documents and Technical Specification Documents, to mention a few.
Getting familiar with key business analysis deliverables and how they are developed can put you ahead in terms of your awareness of how to produce business analysis deliverables and what it entails.
Seek Out Training Opportunities
Business Analysis Training can help in setting a good foundation for launching your business analysis career. Before planning to go on a BA training course, make sure you do proper research, taking relevant factors such as reputation of the training course and certification pathways into consideration. Choosing a reputable organization will improve your understanding and practice of business analysis, which in turn, will improve your employability. See a list of 10 Things to Consider Before Selecting a Business Analyst Training Provider.
Some training courses are certification-based, so explore the possibility of obtaining a certification to build on what you have learnt. Note that some certifications require little or no business analysis experience, for example, ECBA certification from IIBA. Also see Which BA Certification Is Right For You?
Certifications can prove to employers that you're committed to the profession and that you have basic knowledge of business analysis, which is often sufficient for some entry-level jobs.
Master Soft Skills
Business analysis requires a range of soft skills like facilitation, relationship building, resilience, emotional intelligence, and communication, to mention a few. Take the time to build these soft skills in preparation for your business analysis job. Luckily, these skills are not limited to the business analysis profession and can be picked up and developed even in your current position. Visit the career section for information on BA soft skills.
Participate in Business Analysis Tasks
You do not need to be officially titled, “Business analyst”, to gain BA experience. Apply BA tools and techniques whenever you have the opportunity at your workplace. Consider volunteering for BA tasks or working with BAs on any ongoing project at your organization if that is an option for you. These activities can help you gain some practical experience under your belt within a short time.
Don’t let a lack of experience discourage you from getting started. Taking little steps in the right direction one day at a time, can land you the BA job of your dreams.
Picture Attribution:“Cartoon Businessman With Tunnel Light” by iosphere/Freedigitalphotos.net