Inside Insights from an IT Recruiter on How BAs Get Hired

David GilliesI’ve had the pleasure of exchanging emails with David Gillies, IT Practice Manager, at Kern Search about the business analyst profession, the types of IT jobs he is seeing, and what his clients are looking for in IT leaders and business analysts. David kindly agreed to let me share some of the dialog we’ve been having, with the caveat that these are merely his opinions based on personal experiences. The lack of empirical evidence aside, I believe you’ll find his thoughts compelling.

What are you seeing in the technology job market?

In short, yes, companies are hiring. Who?  People who make a difference. Merely stating that you did something is not enough.  How well did you do it?

Hiring companies want to see dollar signs ($$$) and percentages (%) in your resume.  In other words, tell them how much money you made the company, how much you saved the company, or how much better you made things (%)….which ultimately translates into $$$.  Companies are looking for change agents.  They are not merely looking to back-fill positions that are open.  Candidates have to demonstrate….not tell….demonstrate their potential value to a hiring company.

Companies crave leadership right now. No company is hiring…or keeping around…highly paid individuals who basically “sit” on a group.  They are not hiring managers, they are hiring leaders.  I believe this market will bring that dynamic into a better alignment.  You will see some ineffective, but highly paid individuals with high titles let go and come back as lower level managers…at lower salaries.  Salaries commensurate with their value.

How do you see the roles of business analyst and project manager?

I am seeing that companies want individuals to take ownership of a project from beginning to end. Although a company might be looking to fill a project manager role, they need individuals with strong business analyst competencies. My concern is that in bypassing the project manager positions (which I don’t typically focus on in my practice), I will miss great opportunities for my business analyst candidates. The customer might have a job posting for a project manager, when in actuality they need a great BA with demonstrable PM skills.

I have come to realize that the best BAs possess leadership qualities and are probably well suited for project management.  After all, who cares what methodologies you know, if you can’t get people to act?  Useless.

What are your challenges in recruiting business analysts?

I take a pride in recruiting real game changers for  my clients. My clients can find the BAs on job boards who are just happy existing but they would be compelled about hearing of BAs who take product ownership and really move things forward. A key challenge I have is in finding the individuals who live up to these expectations.

Ideally I want BA team leads…..or business analysts who aspire to some form of management / leadership.   There is nothing that makes me feel better than a customer who calls me and says, “Find me a clone of [excellent hire]!  She is awesome!!!”

What’s your perspective on professional certifications?

In my experience PMI or PMP does not get you the job, but it can effectively eliminate you from an opportunity to interview.  If I have a strong relationship with a customer, it can be possible to get candidates without certifications the first interview but otherwise you are out of luck. It will take a lot of marketing to get the CBAP to have the clout of a PMP, but it’s a definite possibility.

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