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.
>>Get Hired as a BA
Our 5-step business analyst job search process will walk you through what you need to do to get hired as a business analyst.