How Do I Craft Bullet Points for My Business Analyst Resume?

Reader Question:

My question is about BA resumes. I have 5 years of experience in IT and around 4.5 in BA. I am a developer/BA blend, as I understand from your book :) My resume lists my experiences chronologically. I remember from your IIBA presentation on resumes that a resume should contain accomplishments vs just responsibilities.  What proportion of these two things do you suggest?

I don’t want the resume to sound like I am just blowing my own trumpet but balance it with something like this is what I helped the company with (in other words, accomplishments) and these are the additional responsibilities that I handled.

Laura’s answer:

I totally understand the desire not to sound too much like a salesperson when you are putting your business analyst resume together. However, the reality is that you do need to sell your legitimate qualifications on your resume and be sure it clearly communicates what you can do by showing what you have done. The first person reviewing your resume is very unlikely to make assumptions in your favor. So toot your own horn or blow you own trumpet, even if just a little.

Let’s look at exactly what an accomplishment is. An accomplishment is a tangible result you’ve achieved for an organization you worked for. It is a benefit they received of employing you as a BA or a developer or in a blended role.

If you are honest about what you contributed, you’ll start to feel less like a salesperson and more like a communicator. And that’s the sweet spot you want to be in. You’ll need to be there before you succeed in the job interview, so you might as well figure it out when putting together your resume.

The other thing about accomplishments is that they don’t just happen. You have to do something to make them happen. Your projects are not wildly successful because you happened to wake up on the right side of the bed. Your requirements aren’t clear representations of real stakeholder needs that solve real business problems because you put random words down on paper. You did something tangible to make this happen.

This is why backing up your accomplishments with responsibilities is so important. Trust your “blowing my trumpet” instinct to guide you to in asking “what did I do to achieve that result?” In the answer to this question, you’ll find your how behind your what.

Include both in each bullet point.

For example,

Achieved alignment across four departments about a new, user-friendly navigation scheme by creating mock-ups, identifying stakeholders, and facilitating review meetings.

Or, as another example,

Improved communication between product managers and the software development team by modeling requirements in use cases and holding combined walk-through meetings, resulting in fewer changes in test.

This way your list combines accomplishments and responsibilities in one statement. Written this way, all of your bullet points could show accomplishments.

If you want more information on what responsibilities and accomplishments to include in your resume, especially if you have a varied career, click here to read my take on that.

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Comments

  1. DougGtheBA says:

    Laura

    I wanted to point out something that I look for in resumes and that you unwittingly achieved n the two examples that you provided. I notice quite often that candidates mention in the resume details that they have done something, but provide little to no detail about what they did or how they did it. For example, a person might say, “…interfaced with stakeholders to create requirements…” or “…assisted developers in design…”.

    I think, for what that’s worth, that one should never a leave a reader, especially on a resume, wondering what something means or asking, “…and???” or “…so what???” or ” and that is what exactly???”

    If there is an accomplishment worthy to note, ensure that it not only trumpets the value that a candidate has provided, but how that occurred. Enhance the vague statements with detail that speaks to the understanding of best practices and how it applies what the task is. In your example, you clearly delineate what you did and then back it with techniques right out of the BABOK, “…by creating mock-ups, identifying stakeholders, and facilitating review meetings.”

    This is important for a reviewer for two reasons. The trumpeting says that the candidate is proud of the accomplishment (as you said, a resume is a marketing document). The details make it clear that the person knows what job to do and how to do it. The details can also be adjust to help tailor the resume toward a specific position.

    Best Regards
    Doug

  2. Disha Trivedi says:

    Thank you for the replies Laura and Doug.

    Doug, so if I understand this correctly, a resume should contain ‘Action- Effect’ statement. By that I mean, that an action that you took, and the effect it produced. Although in resumes we begin by stating the Effect first and state the Action/How in the later half of the statement but that doesn’t matter, the crux remains the same. So for example, ” Increased the sales by 20% by introducing new promotion strategies” or “Ensured full coverage of design elements by maintaining a Requirements Traceability Matrix to keep track of requirements and related test cases” .

  3. DougGtheBA says:

    Disha
    I don’t think it’s really an effect, but rather an important qualifier. In your examples, the qualifying piece doesn’t change the result of the accomplishment, but you can definitely see how much it adds to the statement if you try to remove it. In doing so, the accomplishment returns to a flat, unsubstantiated bullet point.

  4. Disha Trivedi says:

    hmn…May be I chose the wrong word, I meant impact. However, I see what you are saying. Thank you for following up!

    Happy Holidays everyone.