How to Find Contract Business Analyst Jobs

In this article I will describe the common challenges that I faced in becoming a contract business analyst. I am sure many of you will relate to my experience and I hope you find encouragement in knowing these challenges can be overcome.

Challenge 1: Fears

“I’m worried that I don’t have enough experience to become a contractor.”

It was not until I had already been working as a contractor that I realized a high level of experience is not necessarily what finds you work.  Businesses need personnel to fill resource gaps at all positions from entry-level and up.  A contractor can be like a temp and I now think of contractors like mercenaries or film extras.

“When times are hard and permanent staff are getting laid off the contract market will suffer and I will be out of a job.”

I have actually learned that this is not true. The reason contractors are attractive to companies is they can be hired and released at short notice.  Although contractors are more expensive they do not come under headcount costs.

“My resume will suffer from the short-term nature of contracting roles.”

Three month roles and gaps in between roles will not affect your chances of getting a contract BA role, if explained properly in the resume and in the job interview.

“If I work as a contractor I won’t be able to get back into a permanent role.”

This is not necessarily true.  Employers are becoming wiser to different employment practices. Many people now realise that breaks for travelling, sabbaticals, postgraduate study breaks, or contracting for a number of years in between permanent roles are an acceptable part of people’s careers.

“I have to have industry sector experience to get a role in that sector.”

This is not always the case; however the market is set up so that those who are a lower risk, and better fit the brief, will get the job. This means that if you have any experience in the sector you are trying to join you are more likely to be considered for a role than someone with none.

“If demand shifts I will not be able to get a contract – nobody will want me!”

If demand changes in your specialty you can “drop” to related areas. For example, if you work in investment banking and find there are few roles available, then you could try retail banking or financial sector roles in general.

Contracting as a BA requires overcoming challenges

Challenge 2: The Process of Job Hunting

Obtaining a business analyst contract position is slightly different than what you might be used to when applying for permanent positions.

Rather than lengthy application forms and assessment centres and interviews, much of your strength as a contract employee is based on your business analyst resume.  Make your resume an important marketing document.

Also, the contract marketplace is almost totally run by recruiters.  They act as middleman between the employer and potential employees.

Dealing with recruiters can make the contract market an unforgiving place. Recruiters are more likely to select you for an interview with the real employer based on your previous experience, rather than your aptitude and potential to grow into the role.

You may not need years of experience to become a contractor, but for each contract role you go for recruiters are more likely to place you based on whether they think you are can do the job. The main indicator they use for this is your previous role. And job titles can be important.

This means that you may run the risk of being pigeonholed into the same kind of roles, whether or not you want to continue working in a position you feel you may have already proven yourself.

Disregarding the debate whether a BA should be a subject matter expert or have good BA skills and other relevant skills, such as software development and project management, the recruiters in the contract market are looking for both – the best candidate they can find.  Use the market; be clear what skills and experience you have, what you want, and sell yourself!

Challenge 3: Selling Yourself

As a contract business analyst, you may not be used to selling yourself, but this is one of the most important skills to have in obtaining the contract position you seek.

Your resume is your main marketing document.  Highlight and omit experience based on what will give you the best chance of landing your preferred contract. Learn to be comfortable speaking about yourself and describing your history succinctly on phone calls with agents and interviews with potential employers.  Include any gaps in employment due to unemployment, sabbaticals, family, et cetera.

Other ways I’ve marketed myself is by setting up a website to showcase my resume and joining business social networking sites such as LinkedIn.

Remember, as a contractor you are running a small business and you are the product.

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Comments

  1. Thanks Laura,
    Your insights are helpful.In addition to the information that you have shared, I wanted to know if there are possibilities of getting remote BA contract work from other countries. How complex do you think this can and do you think it is possible. If yes, what do you suggest as to how can a BA be hired remotely?

  2. Hassan Israel says

    As a consultant, your opinions are very okay and o totally agree with you all. However; to add a little ingredient to what you`ve already cooked out here, telling a prospective client about your experience is very good. But, it will also be an added advantage if you have knowledge about the client`s job industry and as well the client`s firm in particular. Most executive are not move about consultant resume until you are able to point at something specifically about their business.
    Why? Because most business owners themselves pursues similar qualification and as such if with their knowledge and experience, they can’t do any thing in a situation, no body with similar can do anything about their problem.

  3. Hi Tim,

    Great advice and thanks for sharing! As a former hiring manager myself, I completely second the need to be able to talk through your work samples. I was always less interested in doing a detailed review and more interested in understanding how the candidate went about creating the deliverable and what impact it had for the organization.

    Laura

  4. I’m a hiring manager. Most recently, I hired two contract/temp BAs. I agree with all points in the article and would add the following: in addition to a web site, have a portfolio you can bring with you to the onsite interview. This helps showcase your abilities, and will make you stand out from the other candidates. Do not include anything marked “Confidential”, “Internal use only”, etc. Do not include empty template documents or things you didn’t work on. Do be prepared to discuss in depth (emphasis on in depth!) your role in the deliverable/artifact and how you helped create it.

    Lastly, extensive experience is certainly needed, especially on a short term, get up to speed quickly and be productive kind of gig, but attitude and initiative count for at least as much. Tell me how you will jump in on day one and start helping.

    Hope that helps someone land their next contract gig.

  5. Steve, I think you are right on so many accounts. Finding contract work can be different than full-time. It’s less about fit and more about qualifications (although fit is still important). It can feel a bit like a factory sometimes as recruiters pick over your skills and experiences looking for marketable tidbits. But in the end, they are helping you identify the value you provide to a potential hiring manager and teaching you to sell yourself.

    Laura

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