How to Get Noticed for On-The-Job Opportunities

Are you wondering how to get assigned to business analysis tasks, even if you aren’t currently in a business analyst job role? Do you find yourself passed over again and again for new roles, while your co-workers are getting promoted? Do you wonder if there are different actions you could be taking to secure the result you want?

Even though I’m not an extrovert, I have never been one of those people who could sit at my desk and work straight through the day on my own independent tasks. I needed to see how my work interconnected to the work of those around me. I craved collaboration and discussion and back and forth.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this mindset, this way of approaching my career, was going to lead me on a fairly direct path to a business analyst role in my organization. Keep reading to see how my actions eventually created a business analyst opportunity for me.

First, I got myself invited to meetings

I watched. I listened. I learned the informal protocols for how meetings were run in our organization. I learned who ran a tight meeting and started to see the signs that a meeting would go off track.

Eventually I started to speak up.

And then I started asking so many questions, especially of the BAs in requirements review meetings, that they asked me to sit on the other side of the table and run them!

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Because at first, my efforts to get invited to a meeting were squashed again and again. I had “real” work to do and someone more senior from our department could go and represent us. Or, someone would rightfully be trying to keep their meeting attendance small and focused, and since I wasn’t a “critical” attendee, I’d be casually left off the list.

But I persisted

I still remember going to my first project status meeting. I was not invited, but the senior editor I was working with let it slip that he was going. I asked him a bunch of questions about what would happen. He finally said I could tag along.

It was a huge meeting led by a project manager and attended by several developers, QA engineers, and other editors. For everyone else in the room, it was a boring status meeting. For me, I was finally given a chance to start to connect the dots. Oh, that’s where our content is going. Oh, those are the people on the second floor who build these applications.

Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

Then my senior editor did something awesome. He went on a three week vacation. I got a semi-permanent invite to the meeting and a spot on the agenda! OK, I won’t over-state this. All I really had to do was provide a brief update on the status of our small part of the project. But I was excited.

I realized that this three week vacation was my chance to step up. I was bored with the normal work required by my current job. It was time to make something happen.

  • In the first meeting while the senior editor was on vacation, a problem came up and I offered to do a bit of extra work to help resolve it. No one complained or said no.
  • I solicited the help of someone in another department – someone I’d met through these meetings – to learn a new skill so I could do what I’d said I was going to do. (Yes, I had volunteered to do something I didn’t know how to do. I was pretty desperate at the time, but also confident that I could figure it out.)
  • One thing led to another and before the senior editor came back from vacation, I was running white box content tests and collaborating directly with the QA team and even one of the developers.

Upon returning, the senior editor tried to get things back to “normal” because, well, we just don’t do that in editorial! I was setting a bad precedent about what our role should be on a project. But it was too late. They had my number. I was making a positive contribution to the project.  And it’s really difficult to stop someone who is making a positive contribution.

I had shined a bright light through the glass ceiling covering our department and gotten noticed. About a month later I was offered a job on the QA team. (QA is one of the many job roles that can lead to a business analyst job.)

And in that QA role is where I created the opportunities to sit in on the requirements meetings and annoy the BAs until they asked me to join their team. More meetings. More opportunities. But that’s another year and a half down the road still…I had a lot to learn and a lot to prove before that opportunity could surface, so we’ll save that story for another day.

The point I want to circle back to today, is that meetings matter. Stepping up matters. Volunteering to do extra work matters. And so does finding resources that can help you learn to do the work you say you are going to do.

As a next step, see what meetings you can get yourself invited to. Meetings give you insight into how things work. They give you the opportunity to expand your network within your organization. They give you the opportunity to speak up and get noticed. Fighting my way into a meeting was the first step to moving from a job I was bored with to one I loved.

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Comments

  1. It’s very enlightening to read your article. I’m also the type who wants to know how my portion of work fits the entire picture. Seeing the big picture helps me better understand my task and think on how I would be able to add value.
    Meetings are really great venue to network, find opportunities and get “discovered” at work. What I also like from your story is when you volunteered to do something you didn’t know how to do. That’s very inspiring! I was just assigned to a project that’s new to me as far as domain is concerned. This happens to be the biggest project I had so far. Thinking about the many things that I had to learn I sometimes don’t feel confident that I can do it. After reading your story, I feel confident that I can do it as well – it is a matter of being persistent to learn and using my network to solicit help.

    • Ayl, Good for you! The desire to see the bigger picture is a hallmark of a BA-in-the-making! Definitely leverage your network to learn everything you need to and be successful on this project. And remember, there is a reason you were assigned to this project. You can and will make a positive contribution. Just be sure to pull in the necessary resources to ensure your success.

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