If you are trying to decide if business analysis is the right career move, you are probably evaluating the trade-offs, looking at what you’ll need to invest in making this happen vs. the pay off at the end. You may even have circulated your resume just to see if it sticks, or started looking at some training options.
When exploring a career change, there are a lot of things you can be doing. Equally important are making sure you avoid the activities that won’t help you clarify your decision.
#1. Underestimate Your Relevant Experience
Ever run a meeting, ask a question, or clarify an assignment? Your professional experience is a goldmine. When considering business analysis, don’t underestimate the value of your professional experience and assume you’ve got to go for an entry-level business analyst position.
#2. Read the BABOK
Many new business analysts pick up the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge and get frustrated that it doesn’t teach them what they want to know about the profession. Reading the BABOK is time-consuming, can be frustrating even for experienced BAs, and is very important once you’ve established yourself in the profession. Rest assured there will be plenty of time in your business analysis career to tackle this tome. Now is not the time.
#3. Go It Alone
The BA community is a vibrant and collaborative group of people. Find a mentor. Take a training class. Join a LinkedIn group and participate in the discussions. There are lots of BAs willing to share their time and advice to help you figure out what your best path to business analysis might be. Seek them out and make them part of your professional network.
#4. Assume IIBA is Only For Established Business Analysts
IIBA is for professionals at all career levels, and that includes you. When you are considering business analysis, you’ll meet many helpful BAs at your local chapter meetings. Often these cost between $5 and $10 for non-members and attending a few meetings is a great way to learn more about the profession.
As soon as you decide to pursue a business analysis career, the webinar resources and online library are worth the cost of membership alone. (For a rundown on how your IIBA membership will help you get started as a business analyst, check out this public IIBA webinar I hosted.)
#5. Leave your Resume Just the Way It Is
Your current resume got you the job you are in now, right? That doesn’t mean it will get you a job in a different career. If you’ve begun circulating your resume and not received the response you were hoping for, your experience might not be the issue…but your resume might be! If you want to find out if your qualifications stack up for a BA job, you’ll need to be creatively honest and start revising your resume.
#6. Make a Snap Decision
Career changes represent significant investments in time and energy. In this instructional video, Professor Herminia Ibarr at INSEAD and 13-year Harvard Business School faculty member, said that an average career change takes three years. This is not something you want to jump into after a miscue with your boss or because you were bored with your last project.
On a more positive note, career changes can happen much faster with persistence, focus, and a bit of luck. The more you do to position yourself and put yourself in the line of BA opportunities, the more quickly you’ll make the transition.
#7. Over-Analyze the Decision
On the other hand, if you are going to be a good BA, chances are you like to analyze things. I know I do. And analysis and critical thinking has its place, especially when making a career change. But there is a difference between analyzing to make a good, informed decision and getting stuck in analysis paralysis. You come out of the analysis that goes into an informed decision self-confident and ready to create a change. You might never come out of analysis paralysis and if you do, you feel stuck, unsure, and your actions tend to be haphazard.
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