Are you looking to get your business analyst resume into the “yes” pile when you apply to a business analyst job? Are you wondering how you can showcase your business analysis experience and qualifications when you’ve never held the job title of business analyst? Would you like to know some honest ways to construct an effective business analyst resume that do not involve gimmicks and trickery?
In this article, we’ll cover the 8 secrets you need to know so that you hear back from more business analyst job applications. They’ll help you showcase your business analyst qualifications, even if you’ve never held the job title of “business analyst.”
Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my step-by-step BA career planning course (it’s free) that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career.
Now, onto the 8 secrets.
1 – Your Business Analyst Resume Does Not Need to Catalog Your Work History
Many professionals fall into the trap of thinking they need to include a complete catalog of their work experiences and skills in their resume. The first secret you need to be “in” on when putting together your resume is that your resume is not a catalog, it’s a sales document.
This means you can be selectively honest about the skills and experience you include and emphasize in your resume, and you should organize your resume so that it presents your qualifications in the best possible way.
Provided you are applying to business analyst jobs you are reasonably well qualified for, something we talk about in our business analyst job search process, the next 7 secrets will help you create a resume that sells your qualifications in a way that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.
2. Create a Specific Summary So Your Resume Isn’t Quickly Sent to the “No” Pile
Because most recruiters scan your resume instead of read it, there are a few elements of your resume that will get you the most attention. The first one of these is your objective or summary statement. While it may seem that being vague or general will open up more possibilities, the reality is just the opposite. Highlight your business analysis accomplishments and make it crystal clear that you are qualified for the types of BA jobs to which you are applying.
Because many recruiters skip right past the objective on your resume, you need to make sure that other parts of your resume draw them in too. Let’s move on to those other parts.
3. Tweak Your Job Titles to Get Your Resume Read
If the recruiter skims right past your objective and accomplishments section, their eyes are going to rest on the most recent job titles you’ve held. These are typically in bold (if not, they probably should be) and stand out.
Do your job titles present you as a candidate that is qualified for the types of jobs to which you are applying? If your most recent job title is listed as “Network Engineer,” “Software Developer” or “Customer Support,” you are most likely to get calls for jobs with similar titles.
Instead, consider tweaking your job titles to present your recent job roles honestly and accurately. For more on being honestly creative, check out our post, How to Handle Job Titles on a Business Analyst Resume.
4. Highlight Your Most Relevant Skills and Still Be Honest
Remember how we said that your resume is a sales document? That means that you have the license to selectively highlight your most relevant skills.
One way to do this is to focus on the projects where you held the most BA responsibilities – this enables you to get beyond being a “jack of all trades” and focus on your business analysis career experiences. And it does not mean “overselling” yourself – it’s just a matter of selectively telling the truth.
Out of all the business analyst resumes I review, by and large this is where most professionals need to invest the most time
(By the way, you’ll learn how to get your resume noticed for business analyst jobs in Building a BA Resume that Lands You Interviews – a virtual, self-study course that helps you highlight your relevant business analysis experience even if you’ve never held a “business analyst” job.)
Here are some of the mistakes I see.
- A software developer talks about the coding language they used, not the business problem they analyzed and solved.
- A customer support person details their primary responsibilities and the “special project” they participated in as an SME/BA is relegated to a single bullet point that goes unnoticed.
- A prior manager is so “accomplishments focused” that they overshadow their abilities to roll up their sleeves and do business analysis work such as role definition, business process analysis, managing change, and obtaining buy-in across multiple departments.
5. Use Business Analysis Terminology to Demonstrate Your Capabilities
Let me let you in on another secret. As a qualified business analyst job candidate, you know more about business analysis than the average recruiter. While you know that “process flows” and “workflow diagrams” mean the same thing, the person doing the first-pass review of your resume might not. This means that you’ll hear back from the most opportunities if you use the right terminology to talk about your experiences in your resume. These are called transferable business analysis skills.
Here’s an example from my own resume: As a QA Engineer I coordinated multiple business groups to review a particular application before it went live to our customers. At the time, we called this activity “data testing.” Later I learned the formal term was “user acceptance testing.” I now use “user acceptance testing” on my resume. It’s accurate and honest and presents me as more qualified for certain business analysis positions.
Once you have selected your most relevant skills and the right terminology for them, you’ll want to craft bullet points that clearly communicate those skills and build instant credibility. And that leads us to secret #6.
6. Get Instant Credibility by Blending Accomplishments and Responsibilities in Your Bullet Points
I’m often asked whether to highlight your accomplishments (what you achieved for your project or organization) or your responsibilities (what you did for your organization) in your work history section.
My answer: Both.
In the your resume’s bullet points, you want to show how you used a business analysis skill and achieved something significant by applying that skill. So you essentially back-up an accomplishment with a qualification, using the right terms you’ve selected above.
You can add to your credibility by using a variety of concrete details to talk about your contributions. Even if you don’t have access to precise project results, you can include a variety of numbers and details that help give shape to your experiences, thereby helping your reader see what kinds of things you might be able to do for their organization.
7. Address Any Employment Gaps Clearly
Some of the resume gurus will tell you to hide an employment gap in your resume by reorganizing it in a functional resume format. In all the work I’ve done with new business analysts and transitioning professionals, I’ve never seen this approach work. Assume the person reading your resume is a relatively intelligent human being who is not going to miss a gap because you’ve reorganized your work history in a confusing way. Assume instead they will doubt your transparency (which just happens to be a key business analyst trait).
Giving others the opportunity to make false assumptions about you and your work, will only get your resume into the “no” pile. Proactively address your employment gap on your resume. Tell an honest story that shows you are ready, able, and willing to do the work of a business analyst.
8. Someone Else Cannot Write Your Resume For You
Creating a resume that clearly showcases your best business analysis qualifications is not easy work. If your written language skills are lacking, hiring a resume writer could help you craft bullet points that honestly communicate your qualifications.
But keep in mind that as a business analyst you will be writing a lot of documentation, so your resume is an artifact that demonstrates your ability to fulfill a key business analysis competency, just like the business analyst job interview is a time to demonstrate you can ask insightful questions.
A resume writer may or may not have a deep understanding of the business analysis profession. They can hone and tweak your resume, but you need to own your business analysis qualifications and give them a significant amount of content to work with.
>>Go Update Your Resume
Yes, I know it’s painful to, yet again, update your resume. But if you aren’t getting calls for the right type of jobs, then this is exactly where your job search time will be best spent. (Getting your resume right will also help you prepare for the job interviews that come for it, so that’s an added bonus.)
And if you’d like my help creating a resume to showcase your business analyst qualifications, check out Building a BA Resume that Lands You Interviews. In this virtual, self-study course, you’ll learn my step-by-step process to creating a resume that gets beyond tricks and gimmicks by applying tested patterns to draw out your business analyst qualifications and catch the attention of potential interviewers.