How to Handle Job Titles in a Business Analyst Resume

When it comes to creating a professional business analyst resume, one challenge of being part of a relatively new profession is that while you have the experience you may have never held the title. As business analysts, we’ve been titled product managers, project managers, systems analysts, requirements analysts, etc, etc, etc. But now here we are, with several years of transferable business analysis skills and experience and no position on our resume says so.

Part of the challenge is that many of us view a resume as primarily a document of our career history. If you change up your perspective and view your resume as a sales/marketing document (a high-quality, high-integrity one), there are some plausible options for grooming your resume appropriately.

In today’s job market, recruiters receive an overwhelming number of resumes for every open position. Assuming they actually look at your resume, they are looking primarily for a reason to throw it to the side. One recruiter actually shares his scanning method for looking at resumes and a key trigger is whether or not your most recent job title is similar to the opening position.

When you are thinking about your job titles, think about that over-worked and overwhelmed recruiter. But also think ahead to landing the job interview and passing reference checks. You don’t want to sneak through the filter system and get caught later on down the road. (It’s always a good idea to keep your entire BA job search process in perspective.) And there are a few options to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Change Your Job Titles on Your Business Analyst Resume

Simply swapping out the “official” job title for the one you feel best represents the work you were doing at the time is a way to make sure your resume helps you stand out as a candidate for your target position. This approach does have some risks. If your previous employer is called for a reference check, they will most likely reference your work by the official title.This option is probably best suited for positions at smaller companies where titles were lax anyway.

As I interviewed new business analysts as part of my research for How to Start a Business Analyst Career, I found that people used this technique to highlight legitimate business analyst experience in their career history in jobs where their responsibilities shifted quite a few times and job titles were not formalized.

But don’t worry if you aren’t comfortable with this solution, because there are other ways to be sure your BA experience gets noticed.

Include “Business Analyst” and the “Official” Job Title

Another option is to include your official title and also a representative title in parenthesis. You could also separate the two titles with a slash or hyphen. I use this technique to represent my work in my most recent full-time position. My official title was “Director, Enterprise Solutions” but what I was really doing what leading a PMO, a QA group, and defining the Business Architecture. As I am applying mostly for business analyst positions, I capture this title as Business Architect / Enterprise Solutions Director.

Use Descriptions to Tie Together Job Titles and Work Accomplishments

While most resumes follow-up a job title with a bullet list of accomplishments, I aim to capture my core responsibilities and any situational context in 1-2 brief sentences. If you are uncomfortable changing out or augmenting your job title, brief descriptions can help tie together a mismatched job title and the accomplishments you are listing out. This won’t necessarily get you past the filter, but it will help you pass muster in a more detailed review.

Warning: Match Your Accomplishments to Your Job Titles

Simply swapping out titles is not going to land you a business analyst job interview. The titles you use in your career history and the job responsibilities/accomplishments within that position must be consistent. Nothing smells stranger to a recruiter than a title and description that don’t match. Do your homework.

This means you can only give yourself the title if you can also legitimately list responsibilities you had that someone with that title would have had. After all, we are not talking about stretching the truth here. We are talking about representing the work you actually did in a way that recruiters and hiring managers will respond to.

Warning: Prep Your Employment References About Your Resume

If you are flexible with your job titles in your resume, be sure to inform your references. If a potential employer contacts someone, they are likely to reference the title on your resume. Be sure your reference understands how you are presenting that position and are comfortable supporting that characterization so they don’t mistakenly botch a reference-check.

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  1. Doug Hill says:

    Laura….great post!
    As you know I did this very approach and it really does work well and in an honest way. My former company wasn’t into official titles, so it was difficult to market myself with a generic title of IT Specialist. But when I began identifying job experience, responsibilities and skills that I performed over the years with real world titles, I began getting a lot of hits and had multiple job offers start flooding in.

    Oh and GREAT WARNING at the end. Prepping your references and even your former supervisor with this information is key. If theyre not privy to it, you look dishonest and it places you in a poor light and perhaps out of the running as a candidate for the position.

    Great post!

  2. Nathan Caswell says:

    All the advice I’ve heard is that anything other than the ‘official’ title in employment history allows for an easy early rejection.

    I’ve found two ways around this. First, highlight the Business Analyst (or appropriate) title in the summary, along with supporting accomplishment highlights. This puts it up front and in the ‘visual center’.

    Second, if the job involves mixed roles, sort experience by project or function and highlight the role title for each subsection. This allows for strict documentation of the job title as well as visually highlighting the actual role performed. Subheadings confuse many profile creating parsers, but in a way that communicates exactly what you want the hiring manager.

    • Hi Nathan, I’d be interested in learning the reason it can generate an early rejection. I can see it turning up during a reference check, but what trigger a rejection early on for changed out job titles?

  3. Nathan Caswell says:

    Hi Laura,
    “Early” probably means ‘before they call me back’. 🙂 I have two sources of authority, neither of which are very strong.

    First is reading all the advice to be found on job sites. For automated corporate resume chomping, a lot of the checking apparently is up front. One claim was that rounding a GPA was enough for rejection (3.6 vs 3.61). Where ‘rejection’ means not showing up on the real person read list. YMMV.

    Second, is my hiring experience after HR has qualified the candidates. Asking about a discrepancy isn’t something I’d want to spend time on.

    A third data point is a recent study group discussion on the important characteristics to look for in hiring BA’s. The group polarized around “trustworthy” and “analytical thinking/problem solving”. A BA is, after all, responsible for highly leveraged documents driving large development costs where getting the details right matters.

    But, having lived most of my career with the title ‘Staff Member’, the problem you raise is existentially relevant. The solution of making the role name more visible than the title seems a way to have it both ways.

    • Nathan,
      This is great feedback. I’ve been waiting to do some more research before replying. I went to a job search seminar today given by an HR Director (formerly head hunter, lots of HR experience). I asked this question. Her perspective was that if you were doing BA activities, go ahead and change the title. Her biggest recommendation was to make things consistent — i.e. responsibilities line up with the job title line up with the job you are applying for — and also honest.


  4. Hi Laura,
    This is a very helpful post… In my current status I am finding myself in the situation you mentioned in this article. I am an ‘Analyst Programmer’ for past 2.5 years with overall 4 years of experience and wishing to step into a Business Analyst role.

    In past 2.5 years I have done majority of Business Analysis but unfortunately while applying for a BA role, my designation is working against me!!! I thought of trying some thing like ‘Technical Analyst/ Programmer’ or ‘BA/ Analyst Programmer’ or ‘Technical Buisness analyst/Programmer’…
    Albeit I can relate to all the above ‘shared’ designations but for some reason I am feeling that I am using a dishonest way to get attention!


  5. Hi Shan, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You said:

    “In past 2.5 years I have done majority of Business Analysis but unfortunately while applying for a BA role, my designation is working against me!!!”

    Can you clarify here? How is this working against you? If the title is an accurate representation of your responsibilities and how you talk about your work, then I think you are on the right track. If any of those is off, then your the titles you use in your resume could be creating the issue.

    Instead of of “dishonest attention”…think about “appropriate attention”…job search involves a lot of marketing. And marketers do all kinds of things to get our attention. As long as you can back up your statements with detailed explanations and proof, there is nothing dishonest about it.

  6. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your reply! In past 2.5 years majority of my work involved Business Analysis but my designation had always been ‘Analyst Programmer’ and still is.

    When applying for a BA role, the common feedback & reply I am getting from recruitment consultants are-

    1) “As an ‘Analyst Programmer’ it will be hard for you to move into a proper BA position unless you make that transition internally (within the organisation-which I have already tried & got rejected as they required lot of experience) first & then move out!”
    2) “There is lot of competition in the market out there within BA’s itself…so highly unlikely you can step into that position unless you are a BA with Business experience and not an ‘Analyst Programmer’…”

    I have modelled my CV to reflect all the BA skills + my BA experience to get their attention, it does get attention from potential recruiters, but when they reach ‘Professional Experience’ section of my CV they step back after reading ‘Analyst Programmer’.

    Further… the last paragraph of your reply makes it clear and answers my query (“appropriate attention”…) so I am thinking of tweaking my designation on the CV to something which works well with my experience and also does not deter potential employer when they read it!

    “Technical Analyst/ Programmer” | “Technical BA/ Programmer”

    Something on those lines…
    Kind Regards,

  7. You are welcome Shan. It sounds like your job title has a certain connotation in your job market so distancing yourself from that (within the bounds of honesty, of course) could be a good move in the context of your job search.

    As far as this comment: “As an ‘Analyst Programmer’ it will be hard for you to move into a proper BA position unless you make that transition internally (within the organisation-which I have already tried & got rejected as they required lot of experience) first & then move out!”

    I do find that moving to a BA role within an organization is much, much easier than finding a new role in a new organization, something I go into detail about in the Tackling the BA Job Market Workshop in career changes vs. job changes. (

  8. Thanks Laura,

    I think that could be a big reason my resume has been filtered out from recruiters. I need read tons of business analysts resume and using their language instead of my own one.

    You are my star!

    Crystal Z

  9. Good luck Crystal, swapping out titles and rewording and refocusing responsibilities can make a huge difference. Let us know how it goes!

  10. thanks Laura:D

  11. some nice suggestions. i have seen good website, there you can download Business Analyst Resumes in .doc format
    Here is the link

  12. Darshan says:

    Hi Laura,

    I done my MBA in Finance and I am working with one of orgnastion in F&A and I am looking to carrier in BA is possible

  13. Hi Laura,
    My job title is that of a Senior Software Engineer. But most of my work I have done is of business analyst. I have highlighted the same in the job description in my resume. How will it be if I change my job title from Senior Software Engineer to “Senior Software Engineer – Business Analysis”?