I’m so excited to be able to share this case study interview with you. Adam Haesler’s BA career has been evolving for the last 2 years, and he recently landed his first formal business analyst position.
Learn how Adam got more confident in his business analysis skills, mined his career for relevant experiences (even without the job title), volunteered for more business analysis work, and, after sending out hundreds of resumes, landed the second business analyst job he interviewed for.
Listen to (or download) the interview here:
And for those of you who prefer to read instead of listening, here’s a full-text transcript of the interview:
Laura: I’m here today with Adam Haesler, who has just been offered his first official, and we’ll talk a little bit about that and what that means, business analyst position. He’s here to share some of his story with us about how he got to this point in his career.
Laura: Hello, Adam, and welcome.
Adam: Hi, Laura.
Laura: Hey, well thank you so much for joining me today and agreeing to share a little bit about your story. I think we should just jump right in. I know that this has been at least two years in the making for you, right?
Adam: It definitely has been two years.
Laura: Can you just take us back to what things were like for you a couple of years ago. What were you hoping for? Why did you decide to get into business analysis?
Adam: Yeah, for sure. So, it was very interesting because I felt sort of stuck. I was in customer service and not really enjoying it. Customer service was sort of meant to be a transitional thing. I had already been doing it previous to where I was working, but it was, you know, it was one of those easy positions to get into. You didn’t need a lot of experience. Just being the type of person that I was, very clear and able to take initiative, and that kind of thing, it was easy to get into. So, you know, it paid the bills.
But I’ve always been fascinated by systems. I had, actually, a couple of years before that, run my own business developing systems on Excel for businesses. It didn’t go very well, but I was still fascinated by them. That idea of having a career in helping businesses develop their systems and improve them for efficiency and optimization of information they could get out of them was always something in the back of my mind and something that I really wanted to be doing as a career, and that I was really passionate about.
What I did was I started just searching online. I can’t ever remember, really, where it started, but I remember getting an email from SFU because I had started into a Business Administration certificate with them and they send you emails about all their other courses that are going on. One of them was business analysis. I thought, “what’s this business analysis thing?”
I went searching online after that and I actually found your book – How to Start a Business Analyst Career. I was like, okay, well, this is perfect. Whatever business analysis is, she’s going to define it for me. So, I went out and bought your book and started reading it. Honestly, I felt like you must have written this book for me because I think it’s the first or the second chapter that talks about all the skills that a person would need to be a business analyst were exactly the type of skills that I had. So, I thought, okay, that’s great. Let’s start moving forward. I don’t care what forward is, let’s just take a step forward. That’s where I was at and that’s where the journey began.
Laura: Yeah, so it sounded as if you had a couple of goals. One, the interesting work of being able to work on businesses with their business systems. You had already started your degree. SFU – is that a particular university?
Adam: Yeah, that’s Simon Fraser University here in Vancouver. Before this, I had done an undergraduate degree in microbiology, and then come out here to Vancouver for my Master’s Degree, from Ontario and did a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry. So, nothing to do with what I’m doing now.
Adam: So I enrolled in a certificate program at SFU just because they had those for continuing students. My thing about learning is that I just love it so much that if I could, I’d be doing learning all the time. I just enrolled for something to do, really.
Laura: Okay, gotcha.
Adam: So, you know, you get on people’s email list and they just send you emails about everything, of course.
Laura: Yes, which can be overwhelming at times, too.
Adam: Yeah. In this case, it was a good thing.
Laura: Yeah, so it sounds like something clicked that business analysis was that career to be able to work with business systems, which makes perfect sense. Did you have any hesitations around that? Where were you at around that?
Adam: You know what, I’m going to say no, there were no hesitations. My drive just became that, it became laser focused that this was what I needed to do for myself, was I needed to get into business analysis. It just had that perfect fit feeling, especially after reading your book.
Laura: Right. Was I right that the main goal was the work, or were there other goals that got layered on that for you as well?
Adam: So, I mean, it was definitely the work, the title, and the higher salary, for sure, were motivators. But it was more so the work that I really wanted to do. I mean if I could live really frugally and yet I was still working on business systems. Even without a title, then, yeah, no, I’d totally do that for sure.
Laura: Okay, fair enough. It’s a good position from a salary perspective as well.
Laura: It’s good to be well compensated for something that we enjoy to do. It’s good.
Adam: Yes, yes, for sure. And I feel like I’ve earned that salary increase over the last two years, especially.
Laura: Yes, so let’s talk about that because it’s not like you didn’t make that decision and then you got the job. There have been a couple of years in between here and there. What was it like? Could you talk us through some of the bigger milestones that you went through during those last two years?
Adam: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, I mean, after I read your book, it was clear that you had a lot of courses which I could take. But one thing that I realized for sure was that although I had all the skills, I didn’t know the terminology. I didn’t know how to communicate on paper with people as far as being a business analyst. So, my big thing was that I needed to get that sort of background on being a business analyst to move forward because it, to me, it sort of seemed like, okay, I’m just going to look like a joke trying to walk into somebody’s office and say, “Oh, I want to be a business analyst. I don’t know anything about the industry or how to do anything in that world, though.
The first thing that I did was I just started taking courses with you. So, I mean, it’s always a hurdle, financially, when you’re on a pretty tight income and you have to start making decisions about, okay, what am I going to spend my money on. But this is where being really laser focused on the fact that I wanted this career became really important for me because it was a motivator that I’ve just got to keep pushing forward.
Since my focus was moving forward on the career, it meant that investing in courses, whether it was your courses or investing my time in webinars or podcasts was what I was going to do with my time and money.
The first course, which was sort of a milestone for me, would have been your course on Mastering Business Analysis, sort of the introductory course.
Laura: Right, the BA Essentials Master Class.
Adam: Yes, yes, that’s right. I was fascinated by that point. When I took that, I was just in love with the whole idea of business analysis and the whole process. I could always see myself doing this. A lot, because of the type of the skills that I would need to use were the type of skills that I was using right away, or right now in my current job where, basically, what I do is I coordinate decoration of garments, so putting people’s logos on their garments that we sell. And this just requires communication between the business owner, who’s actually submitting their purchase order for their stuff and the decorator and working out all the details about the requirements on both sides and what’s reality and what’s not reality, and what can we get done in the timeline that they want.
I was already doing that kind of thing, it’s just not, it wasn’t as detailed as I would like. I meant it was more systemized and already in place and you were really just trying to move things forward as fast as possible. And so, there wasn’t a lot of exploration involved as much as I sort of saw in the business analysis world.
Then, the next major milestone would have been taking your course on data migration. That was really cool too because although I didn’t take it for credit, I had actually done a project back in my business where I was trying to create a system for somebody on inventory, and it sort of required that, not necessarily, knowledge of moving data from one place to another, but that idea of using ERDs would have been very useful. So, entity relationship diagrams.
Laura: So, you were able to see how you had been doing some…
Adam: How they would be useful. Yeah, and even with the customer, it would have been that much more clear.
Laura: Gotcha. Did you have a way to bring that into the role that you were in then? Were you able to apply some of those?
Adam: No, no, not really. I mean, it was the one course that I took which was probably, actually, a bad decision at the time because it wasn’t relevant enough to move my career forward, which is fine. You know, you make mistakes and you move on.
Adam: The next course was your career pack, the three-course pack. I’m trying to remember what they’re all about. One of them is about building your resume, and one of them is about interviews, then there’s a third one, and I, sorry, I can’t remember what it was about.
Laura: Skills. Skills discovery.
Laura: Which really supports those other two.
Adam: Yes, right. Okay. This would have been the next big milestone for sure. I know the milestones seem like they were a lot of coursework, but they were a lot of coursework.
Laura: Well, it sounds like with your attitude towards learning, that’s kind of how you think about things, too.
Adam: Yes, it is totally. So, the skills assessment, above all, was probably the best course. I mean it was a long slug, just because the discovery process and the homework that you need to do to go through and revamp your whole resume to make it presentable, like a business analyst type resume was a lot of work but it was very very valuable. I could see the major differences between my resume from before as opposed to my resume after I had done that course pack. And, so, I was extremely thankful for that because I could see how much better I was communicating to the world if I put that resume, the new resume out there.
Laura: Right. There are two pieces of that, right. One is, I’ve done this, which you kind of had said when you read the book. “Oh, I have these skills.” But then the other is, okay, now I’m actually feeling like I can present myself as having done some of these activities and having these skills.
Adam: I think there was a big confidence boost piece there too because it was a mindset shift of, well, I don’t really know if I could be a business analyst. I don’t know if I have the skills. I don’t know if I have the experience, blah, blah, blah to, oh, wait a minute, yes, I do. Look at all the experience. It filled two or three pages worth of resume. Oh boy! Okay. Actually, I have to cut it down.
Laura: That’s awesome.
Adam: Yeah, so then, you know, I mean…
Laura: Did you start sending that resume at that point?
Adam: I think I started a couple, but I was very, I was still a little unsure of myself and whether I had the skills to be able to move forward at that point. This was about one year into my progress, at this point. And I was still a little unsure of myself, so I think I put, maybe, one or two resumes out there and I didn’t get any response back.
At that point, I knew I was still missing a couple of, definitely, experience in the real world, as well as some knowledge in things like making processes and process models and wireframes and that idea of working with developers. That was all new to me. So, I knew that taking your courses on processes and wireframes and use cases would be very beneficial. So, that was the next thing on the docket. But getting some actual experience was the other big thing for me.
So, what ended up happening was I took your course on use cases and wireframes and I believe that was the first course I took for credit. So, I actually had to go out and do some work in the real world with this course, which was a little bit scary, actually, because it meant putting in time on something and maybe even putting in time at work, which is not a very popular idea because it’s not what I was there to do. So, it was a matter of finding time on breaks or on lunches to do this type of stuff. So, I had actually built, what I call, a calculator. We actually have to calculate what are the costs to the customer for decoration, and what are our costs on our end as the business, with the third-party decorator.
So, I built a calculator for this process, but it was still in the early stages. So, what I did was, I used use cases and wireframes as a way to work through a big problem that I was having with that system. I, actually, the course involves you actually going to a stakeholder and working through your use case and wireframes with them and getting sort of an approval from them. So, that whole process lit me up like a fire inside because I realized, wow, this is really what I really want to do. Now, that I see myself in action, I can actually do it.
Laura: Yeah, because you took it all the way from not having that documented to documenting it and you’ve got the stakeholder approval as well it sounds like.
Adam: Yes, exactly.
Laura: It sounds like this is a project that you created, too. Right. Nobody was coming to you and saying, “Adam, can you create a use case for us on this?”
Adam: Yes, I mean, I definitely was sort of a stakeholder and the developer and everybody. But even still, I was looking at it from all those different perspectives as well. That was kind of cool too, to see things from different perspectives as if I were the developer, or as if I were the business owner, and so on and so forth.
Laura: Correct. That makes so much sense.
Adam: And then, you know, I did the same thing with your process modeling course and it went on a different project that I initiated from the very beginning. My manager came to me and said, “You know what,” so, it was Canada’s 150th birthday this year and Heritage Canada came out with this logo that they said you can use this logo on your garments.” At the beginning, I was sort of like, oh, okay, well, that’s great. This shouldn’t be a lot of work.
Laura: Famous last words.
Adam: Yeah, no kidding. So, I ended up, I think the project ended up being about three or four months long and it ended up involving stakeholders from almost every different department around the whole company as well as some outside stakeholders, including people from Heritage Canada, and from the decorators. So, I had that experience of actually having to work with people who weren’t getting back to you in a timely manner and just having to figure out how to see their perspective throughout the project, you know, what are their priorities, basically. Because not everybody’s priorities are the same as yours. You have that recollection of that fact even more so than I did just doing customer service where nine times out of 10 people are getting back to you fairly quickly because they want their garments in a fairly quick time.
So, it meant going through from the discovery stage of meeting with my manager and finding out what we needed to do all the way through to figuring out what the value would be that would be presenting our customers with and getting some samples decorated to actually presenting this marketing department so they could put something out. Having a few hiccups along the way and other people getting involved at the last minute and not even knowing that they wanted to be involved from the beginning because, originally, they didn’t care and all of a sudden, it’s, “Oh, we care, we care, we care.”
Adam: I had heard you talking about this and I thought, “Ah, that’s never going to happen on this project.” So, yes, and, you know, that project combined with another project where I went to my manager and he was having a problem. There was this issue of shipping a crate to a trade show. It seemed so simple, but he was like, “I’m so frustrated. I’ve got to go and make sure that everything is in this crate. I can’t have somebody else do it for me because 9 times out of 10, I get to the show and there’s something missing, there is a wrench missing, or there’s a stand missing or something. And then we look like fools showing up at this show and we’ve got to ask somebody else for the wrench, or we’ve got to, whatever.”
Adam: And, so, I went to him having just taken your Process Models and Process Flows course and I was like, what if we sat down, we figured out what the ideal process is, ideal flow, and we figured out what all the steps were and made a checklist for everything you need to have in that box. Would that be helpful? And he was like, “Oh my gosh, yes, that would be helpful.” You had talked about a lot of this idea of going up to a white board and, basically, just saying, okay, here is where we start and here is where we end. Can you guys fill me in on what’s in between?
I walk into the room with my manager and his assistant and I basically lay out a piece of 11 x 17 paper and I draw two squares; one, we’ve got the empty crate, and then we’ve got the full crate at the trade show. Can you guys fill me in on what the process is? And they just started filling me in. I couldn’t believe it because I didn’t think it would work. I didn’t think they’d talk or, you know, I was scared about so many different things, and yet it worked out so well.
So, yeah, I got to use a few techniques that I had heard you talk about other, I’m not even sure if it was in that course, but in a blog post you had written elsewhere.
Laura: Yeah, it sounds like you used two projects. You know, you went from the transition was going from kind of being aware that you had these skills and even understanding your past experience, to for the first time, being fully aware that you were using business analysis process and treating it in a more formal way.
Adam: Yes, yes. So, this was sort of the big turning point in my career moving forward as a business analyst because now I felt like, okay, I’ve got actual projects that I know for sure I can put on my resume and use some of those buzz words like requirements or process models; actually, implement them on my resume and know that I’ve actually used those skills and the techniques in a very formal way. So, not just sort of saying, “Oh yeah, I sort of do that in customer service and this is the way it’s very different. Going from that to, yes, I’ve done this in a concrete way. I can say that I have that experience. And I have the actual documents in my hands. So, if need be, I now have a new portfolio. I have documents I can share with a new company with my resume.
Laura: Gotcha. Yeah. But how did that take you? I feel like, are we at the point now where you started applying for jobs again and ended up with the position you have now?
Adam: Yes, it is. For sure.
Adam: So, this was still a bit scary because I was like, okay, now I’ve got to start putting out resumes if I actually want to move forward. I actually have to do that. I had reached a point where we were at a review point with my, one of my other managers at my current job and she was like, “So, what are you doing?” And so on and so forth. How do you want to move forward? I was like, wow, I am looking for this business analyst position. I don’t know if you guys can offer me anything. Otherwise, I am going to start looking.
I presented them with a proposal because she had asked for it and I never heard anything back. So, I started applying to other businesses. For a little while, I got no responses, but what ended up happening was I got a first interview with a company just because simply, they saw that I had business analysis experience, which was more so from running my business than anything. So, they did a first interview with me, but they were like, “Oh yeah, we’re not interested moving forward. It was a little bit uplifting. I had not done a first interview in a very, very long time. We’re talking years and years and years.
What ended up happening was retrospectively I looked at it and I was, okay, if nothing else, it was good experience to get that first interview out of the way. It was so scary walking into a first interview and being like, oh, man, I have not done a first interview before in a long time. I don’t know how to be calm in these things.
Laura: That’s a big piece of it, especially when you’re interviewing for a role that you haven’t interviewed for before as well. It’s a certain sense, like the first time is always going to be the clunkiest, and the second time is a little less clunky. And then it gets a little easier.
Adam: Yeah, no, for sure. After that, I mean, months and months and months went by. I’d say about six months went by and, you know, it was a lot of ups and downs. I get some responses saying, no, and 90% was, basically, I just got no response at all.
I was going through those lows where it’s like, geez, I mean, how many more resumes am I going to have to put out? What am I going to have to change? I was just constantly trying new things with my resume, my cover letter, just tweaking it a little bit and sending out, say, 10 resumes, 10 applications like hat, and if I got no response, tweaking it a little bit more and seeing, okay, does that work? Of course, the big problem with sending out applications is you don’t actually get any feedback unless you get a first interview.
Laura: Right. And the success rates, then, when you’re applying through online job boards can be pretty, pretty low.
Adam: It is.
Laura: It is going into a black cloud for sure.
Adam: Yeah, no, for sure.
Laura: Tell me about the one that did work. What tweak made that happen?
So, what I had done is I guess I had about nine months of doing this and I was like, okay, we need to try something really, really new. We need to find a new job board or we need to start going out and actually, now, working with new people or something. Not having a lot of free time after work, because I’m a big-time runner as well, so my schedule is very full. I needed a solution that could provide me with that sort of interaction with people on the hiring manager level rather than dealing with recruiters who were scanning my resume really quickly and deciding I wasn’t qualified.
I ended up finding this job board called Angel List, which is a lot of companies who are sort of at that start-up level or have gone through a few rounds of funding. The big thing about them is that they have this messaging system where you actually communicate with somebody on that level of hiring manager or somebody in HR. They actually refused to have you talking with a recruiter. You had to either be in business or a hiring manager. So, it was great. Maybe this will work better because I know that I was always communicating, trying to communicate with recruiters, and it just wasn’t working for me.
What they do is they get you to send out an actual, just sort of little message saying why would you want to join this company, why do you want this position? I was like, alright, well, you know, I found this position with a company, a small tech company here in Vancouver and I was like, oh my gosh, this job is perfect. It was junior business analyst and it was doing, basically, implementation of new features on their application, and I was like, wow, okay, this would be perfect. They didn’t have like, oh, you need three years of experience and you need, specifically, that you’ve been working on use cases for three years. Nothing like that. So, it was very general job description and I was like, oh, okay, I meet all the criteria. I’d be perfect for this job. I just know I could be awesome at this job.
So, I sent out the message and a couple of days go by and I had sent out a message to another company and they had gotten back to me in 24 hours and said, “Oh, we’re not looking for a business analyst,” but I was at least like, thank you. Okay. Now, I’ve gotten responses. Things seem to be moving forward. I was just glad to get a response at all.
Laura: Right, with a real reason.
Adam: Yeah, with a real reason. Exactly. Not some auto reply email or template email. “Oh, thank you for your application. We’ll get back to you if we actually feel like there’s a fit.”
Adam: And, so, anyway, two days go by and I get a response back from this company that I ended up a getting a job with. They were like, okay, well, you know, it sounds like you might be a good fit. Can you please send me your resume? I was like, oh my gosh! Okay.
So, I sent them my resume and I hear back within a day, “can we have a first interview with you?” And I was like, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” This is really exciting. But at the same time, I was amazed at how sort of comfortable I was with the idea of going into a first interview because I had that first experience, although it was six months ago, I knew a lot more about what I wanted and why. I had done the research on the company itself, gone on to their website, researched everything that they do, about the position, and sort of I had gone to, what do you call it, their customer service chat line and tried to find out could I get an overview of their application somehow. I ended up reaching out to a salesperson, and she got back to me with a couple links to videos of their application. So, I went through those to make sure that I knew what I was talking about as far as their system was concerned.
Then I went into the interview, and this was really key, I was like, you know what, I’m not taking no for an answer. And it wasn’t like I was going to be a jerk about it, but it was just a mindset very different from the first interview where I was just sort of very nervous and I didn’t know how to ask the right questions, and I didn’t have very good composure.
I went into the interview and he asked me all these questions about why did I want to be a business analyst and it was interesting because I sort of stumbled over that question because I didn’t realize that I didn’t really have a very good answer for that. He asked me other questions about reading documentation, technical documentation because that’s a big part of the job. So, I was grasping at experience I had in the past. How did I have the experience that they might be looking for, and I just constantly kept thinking, okay, even if I don’t know the answer to the question, let’s figure out what I do know and present him with that. And it just went on and on and on like that, and, actually, the interview ended up running for half an hour and it was only supposed to be 15 minutes. After that, he was like, okay, I’m pretty sure I want to bring you in but let me just get organized and I’ll get back to you next week. I was like, holy moly! This is so exciting. I can’t believe somebody is actually going to get back to me.
I did a little bit more research on their company once he had gotten back to me and said, “Yeah, we want to bring you in for a second interview.” I went in for the interview. One thing that I did, which I was very proud of myself for, was I kept being honest with my manager about what I was doing. I didn’t go and say to her, “Oh, you know, I’m sick today,” or something like that and just not come in. I said, “You know what, I have an interview today, and this is the timeframe that it’s going to be at. This is what I’m doing. I just want you to know. And she was, actually, very appreciative of that.”
I went in for the interview and it was only, they said, “Oh, yeah, it’ll only be about two hours. It might be between one and two hours. It depends. If you don’t have a lot of time, we can make it like one hour.” I was like, alright. Whatever. I’m just going to tell my manager that I might not be back for a like four hours, just to be sure because it seemed a little weird what he was trying to tell me. I was like, okay.
We walk into the interview and he didn’t say anything about the fact that I might be meeting other people. I had gone online and looked at the different people who were higher up in the company and who was the owner and started doing that research there, just trying to get a little bit of a sense of who they are. I walk into the room and the hiring manager, a UX person, and the actual owner of the company are all sitting there. I was like, oh, okay. I was like, okay, just calm. Everything’s good. It’s fine. We ended up having an interview with those three for two hours and it was so much fun, actually, because I was just like, you know what, just keep doing what you were doing on the phone in your first interview. Just don’t take no for an answer, don’t say I don’t know, present them with what you do know in relation to the question that they’re trying to ask you. Basically, what that does is it presents you such that you understand what your limitations are.
The interview went on and on and on about questions about my experience and a lot of it came down to my experience of working on the Excel spreadsheets for systems for small businesses when I was running my own business because they were just fascinated that I had managed to do that in Excel.
They also got me to go through this exercise, which was, basically, an exercise on presenting on how I work through problems. They basically posed me with a question which was how many gas stations are there in Vancouver? Please figure it out for us, and do it on the white board. I was like, oh, okay. I managed to work through that whole problem and they were very impressed with how I did that, and then they actually asked me to do it again in a different way to back up my findings.
Adam: Anyway, in general, it was just a lot of fun. I remembered, from that experience, that I love going up to the white board. Once I get a white board pen in my hand, I just get a little excited.
Yeah, it was just a lot of fun.
They all leave and the hiring manager says, “Just wait here.” Of course, we’re in this very small room and it’s just stifling hot in there. I’m choking down glass of water after glass of water. Three more people come in who are people who potentially would be working on my team with me. They were developers. I was like, oh my gosh, okay. This sort of feels like we moved into third interview stage or 2.0.
Again, the interview went for another hour with these guys. I was like, okay, alright, fair enough. Those guys leave and they say just wait here for a minute. And then the hiring manager walks back in and I’m like, okay, what is going on here. Because I didn’t, I had this sense of we were moving forward and yet most people would have been shown the door and maybe you would have called back and maybe you wouldn’t. I thought, what is going on here?
So, the hiring manager walks back in and he starts talking as if I’ve already got the job. He starts saying things like, “Oh, yeah, okay, so you’ll be doing this within the role and this is what you’ll be doing, and this is what you’ll need to be able to do your job, and blah, blah, blah.” I’m sitting there with the most confused face thinking, wait a minute; you haven’t said that I’ve got the job yet.
Anyway, we eventually get to the point where I realize, okay, I come to the recognition that he’s basically saying he wants to make me an offer. I had an offer in my hand by the end of day and I signed the contract by next Monday, because this interview was on a Friday. I went home on top of the world. I left that interview, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, The Pursuit of Happiness, but when Will Smith walks out of the board room with those guys, at the end of the movie and he’s just in tears when we walk into the streets of New York. That’s the way I felt. I was, literally, in tears walking around Vancouver because I had realized I had reached a point where I was being respected at the level that I wanted to be. And I had, in my hands, a piece of paper that said, you know what, you are a business analyst and somebody’s actually willing to give you that title.
So, yeah, the weekend was great. I took the weekend to think it over and then I signed the documents on Monday morning. I gave them my references and they got back to me on Tuesday afternoon and said that I had the position.
From there on, it’s just been an amazing feeling of success.
Laura: And excitement and so well deserved, Adam.
Adam: Well, thank you.
Laura: Yeah, thank you for, I mean there are so many rich pieces in what you shared from how the interview process can be really crazy and unexpected. That’s just a beautiful share for anyone listening in who’s ever had an interview not go as they expect. That’s just awesome.
And, also, that idea of I’m not going to take no for an answer and I’m going to present what I do know, not what I don’t know, and just being ready to share something no matter what and continuing to engage, which I think, created the conversation that showed everything that you’d done to that point in its best light, I’m sure.
Adam: Yeah, for sure.
Laura: There is just so much great stuff. Thank you so much for sharing.
When you look back at that journey, and you really walked us through it in a lot of different pieces, from kind of being excited but unclear, to really starting to appreciate your skills, to being frustrated because you were kind of applying, applying, applying and nothing was working out, and then you had this opportunity and you really capitalized on it. Is there anything, looking back, that you would want to make sure this is the thing, if somebody else is where you were two years ago, or where you were six months ago, what’s that thing that you would want them to know about your experience or to take with them on their journey?
Adam: It’s really a matter of just constantly reevaluating the job descriptions. The way I looked at the job descriptions was they were a representation of what the market wanted you to have. Something I didn’t get into was a lot of the stuff that I learned outside of your courses. A lot of the job descriptions came with this element of we want you to have SQL and so on and so forth and computer languages. It wasn’t so much that you race out and you try and get yourself skilled in everything that’s on all job descriptions, but that you’re going out and you’re evaluating what the masses want.
What I found was that, in general, almost everybody wanted us, at least in Vancouver, to have some skills in data analysis and SQL just kept coming up. How to just, basically, basic programming in SQL. SQL is a very easy language to actually learn. I went out and I said, okay, let’s go out and learn how to use SQL. I did a couple of different courses that were really cheap, finding online platforms that were offering SQL as a language to learn and just diving right in and learning that. If there were a lot of job descriptions coming up with things like, oh, we want you to know use cases or we want you to know how to use process models, those things came up too and were sort of the big motivator for me, actually, taking those courses of yours because it was like, okay, well, I can see how those are valuable and it seems like a good portion of the market really wants that. If I’m actually going to get a job, then I need those skills and I need to get them somehow.
And, so, basically, the bottom line is constantly trying to put your best bet forward. That comes out in that idea of not saying I don’t know as well.
Laura: Right, and I love that strategy, too, about it’s not every qualification in every job, it’s the one that you see coming up again and again and again.
Adam: Yes, exactly.
Laura: It can be somewhat overwhelming, but takes out some of that overwhelm of, oh my gosh, do I need all the terms in this one plus all the terms in that one, plus all the terms in that one. Look at the intersection and keep expanding from that intersection.
Adam: And the other thing I would say to try and narrow it down a little bit is I really focused on my criteria for what I was looking for. I had very specific criteria for the type of business that I wanted to work for. The job description needed to read a certain way, that they had a certain culture. There needed to be certain elements to the actual work that needed to be done. If it said things like, “Oh, you know you’re going to be doing a lot of data analysis, that wasn’t really going to be for me because that wasn’t how I saw business analysis because more so, for me, it was more so about working on the systems and implementing them. Working towards jobs that had that element of you need to know how to a process model, or you need to know use cases and wireframes. Those were the ones that stuck out for me. And then from those, it was a matter of, okay, are they saying they have the kind of culture that I want or are they saying nothing about culture and therefore, I’m going to throw those away.
Not being afraid to throw away a potential job opportunity was a real key thing to narrowing down my job search. Instead of applying to 100 a week to maybe applying to two to three a week.
Laura: That makes a lot of sense.
Adam: You just have to keep pushing and keep trying new things for your job search.
Laura: Great, great, wise words. Well, thank you, thank you. Adam.
Adam: Thank you.
About The Business Analyst Blueprint®
When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll learn all 12 of the industry-standard techniques and the business analysis process framework – to build your confidence in the best practices of business analysis.
You’ll create validated work samples and be a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).