I have been working for a business analyst for several years. Now, for other reasons, I am moving to a new local area. How do I go about finding new BA opportunities in my new area?
While business analysis as a profession is a universal art + science, roles and jobs tend to vary within specific local areas. As I meet more and more BAs through Bridging the Gap and our virtual courses, I am learning about how each location is idiosyncratic in some way.
Roles tend to vary a bit. The employer mix, professional culture, and industry specializations have a different impact on the roles.
- In New York, we’ve got the rise and fall of the financial industry making a significant impact on BA jobs.
- In the New Jersey area, there is a significant presence of pharma and biotech.
- In Los Angeles, there’s the movie industry.
This isn’t to say that industry 100% determines the jobs available, just that awareness of local factors can help you anticipate potential challenges. When you are looking at job postings and the same industry comes up over and over again, it can seem as if that industry holds all the opportunities. It’s best to build an awareness of whether or not that’s really the case and build an appropriate job search strategy early on.
Here are 6 steps I recommend when moving to a new city to help you find a BA job:
- Establish a job search budget. It takes time and effort to build relationships in a new city. Establish a budget of time and money. Be prepared to invest several hours per week finding a new job, possibly treating job search like a full-time job itself. Be prepared to spend some money as well. You’ll want to have business cards, may find meetings to attend that charge fees, etc. Set a comfortable budget — it will help you make decisions and prioritize your efforts.
- Research IIBA chapters and begin participating. We talk about the value of joining IIBA all over the place here (see Doug Goldberg’s article on “Must a BA always align with an IT organization?“, Adrian Reed’s post on “What jobs lead to a BA role” or Scott Sampson’s post on “How do I succeed in my new business analyst role?“). When moving to a new area, getting involved with local professional groups will be your quickest path to building new relationships with local professionals. Ask about the job market, the key organizations, the influential industries. Meet recruiters that can further inform you about what key qualifications are important for local business analyst jobs. Learn. Learn. Learn.
- Expand your network beyond BA. Look for groups within your industry or target industries. Find related groups such as those about technology, process, or business. Get a flavor for the professional culture and big industry players. Take time to build individual relationships with other professionals. In a decent-sized city, there will be more opportunities that you can afford (in time and money). Prioritize and focus on quality over quantity.
- Leverage LinkedIn. Even before you move, you can begin to reach out to professionals in the city to which you are moving. Find them in LinkedIn groups, whether local or BA-related. Reach out and let them know you are moving and just looking to find out more about the profession in the area. Ask questions. Set-up informational interviews. Again: Learn. Learn. Learn.
- Discover what makes you unique and qualifies you for local jobs. Maybe you have experience with a competitor or you bring an expertise that is sorely needed in your new local area. I once had a contact tell me that I was unique in Denver because Denver professionals tended to value time in the mountains over a strong work ethic. That was valuable information about how I could differentiate myself in the job marketplace. Find what makes you special in the local area. Hopefully this will be something that intersects with your BA career path as well.
- Focus your search and update your resume. Finding a focus is the first step to finding available jobs. Knowing what strengths you bring and what relevant qualifications you hold will help you craft a resume that speaks to your unique qualifications.
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