How to Get Your BA Career Back On Track

I firmly believe that once you are a business analyst, you are always a business analyst. However, it’s easy to fall into a role where you are no longer doing traditional business analyst work, and you can start to feel like you are losing your skill set.

  • Perhaps you took a career break to take care of children or aging parents, and are now going back into the paid workforce.
  • Perhaps your role took a bad turn somewhere, or an unexpected layoff or downsizing forced you to take on a role that wasn’t really a business analyst role.
  • Or perhaps your organization started shrinking instead of growing, leaving little room for interesting project work.

No matter what the reason, now feels like the time to restart and recharge your business analyst career. So, what do you do? That’s what this video is all about.

For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:

Today, I want to talk about how to get back on track if your career as a business analyst falters along the way or gets stuck somewhere. This can happen if you take a long break, maybe, to take care of children, or aging parents, or if somewhere along the way your career takes a bad turn and you end up in a role that wasn’t really what you started with. That could happen as well, if you get laid off, or if your organization starts shrinking instead of expanding. So, the opportunities to do new and interesting project work kind of starts to diminish.

No matter how you got here, we’re going to talk about how to get you unstuck and how to make sure your business analyst career is back on track and growing.

Let’s jump right in. I’m going to share five different steps that you can take to walk through this process of going from not feeling great about where you are in your business analyst career, to feeling like you’re a tried and true solid official business analyst.

Step 1 – Clear Out the Clutter

The first thing you want to do is just clear out the mental and emotional clutter of being stuck. It’s really easy to get frustrated with your past employers, maybe the projects, or other people you’ve worked with, or family members you had to show up for, or whatever it was that got you off track, to focus on that.

You need to have a little bit of compassion for yourself and for others. Forgiveness is a great tool to just clear that out and let it go. So, forgive yourself for whatever position you’re in now and be ready to move forward. Do some cleansing and let that old story go so that you can move on and create a new story.

Step 2 – Recommit and Re-Energize

From there, the second thing is to think about recommitting and re-energizing yourself in your business analyst career. Think about what is that brought you to this in the first place. Why did you love business analysis? What were you so excited about?

Maybe it was that first opportunity that was just something so new and exciting. I remember, for me, it was like QA was great, but I had gotten kind of stuck in that. It was the same over and over, and I had a new opportunity for a fresh start and a fresh role doing higher level responsibilities. That’s something, even today, I’ll pull back from. Why am I doing this? Oh, right, I remember how exciting that was and how exciting it still is.

One way to do that, if you haven’t already, take the business analyst litmus test. It’s in my book, How to Start a Business Analyst Career, right at the beginning because it’s so important. I’ve also recorded a video that has the litmus test, and I read through it for you. So, if you don’t want to buy the book, you can go and find that video and check that out as well.

Another way to do that, the litmus test, is just think about your most favorite job that you’ve ever had or your most favorite project, not even job. Because a job can have a lot of parts. Maybe you like some, and you didn’t like other parts. Think about the best project you ever worked on.

  • What was that project like?
  • What was your role?
  • What were some of the criteria?
  • What were the people like?
  • What was the team like?
  • What kind of things did you work on?
  • What made that project unique and special?
  • What made your contribution so amazing?

Use that as a touchstone as you start to think forward and plan out your career goals to bring that back. How can you bring that kind of project back into your career? That’s going to set you in the right direction. That’s that re-commitment, the re-energizing phase of getting back on track.

Step 3 – Make Bigger Contributions

The third thing is to start making bigger contributions. A lot of times we’ll wait until somebody will say, “Hey, Laura, can you go ahead and analyze this process?” or, “Can you solve this problem for us?” We’re waiting for somebody to tell us what to do and how we can be helpful.

They may not even know, especially if you’ve been frustrated for a while. They might not know that you have this extra thing that you could do, or this extra desire or way to contribute more effectively. Go out and start volunteering to do things that you wouldn’t normally do, maybe, aren’t part of your formal job description. It could be analyzing a process that is problematic.

Start by, even inside your own team or inside your day-to-day work. It could be facilitating a meeting of a small group of people to solve a problem. Whatever it is, just get started. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t over think it. Just do something that’s bigger and better than what you’re doing currently. And make that step up to make that happen.

When you start to step up, good things tend to happen in your career, whether it’s in this opportunity or something else.

Step 4 – Refresh Your Skills

The fourth thing is it can be necessary, especially if you’ve had a long break, to update your business analyst skills, or refresh your skills. The wonderful thing about business analysis, in my opinion, is your skills are never really outdated. So, your communication skills, your ability to analyze requirements, that core competency, it doesn’t change. Once you’re a business analyst, you’re always a business analyst, and you’ve always got great skills, very transferable skills that you can apply in a business analyst role.

But you might feel a little rusty around them. You might not quite remember what it’s like to go through a big project again. Participating in some training, or watching videos like this, or reading a few books, that’s a way for you to hit “refresh,” you to feel more confident in what it’s going to take to be a business analyst. For you to kind of remember all the cool, fun things that you’ve done in the past, even if those things were 10, 15, 20 years ago – essentially your transferable business analyst skills. You’re bringing that back up and training can help you do that.

(By the way, if you are looking to fill your BA toolbox with the key skills to launch your business analyst career, be sure to check out The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program.)

Step 5 – Connect with the BA Community

The fifth thing is to connect with others. Make sure that you’re finding ways to connect with other business analysts. Go to your local IIBA chapter meeting if you have one. If not, maybe it’s time to start one in your local community.

Virtually, you can do this online. Look for LinkedIn groups that you can contribute to. A lot of the major players in the online space all have LinkedIn Groups around business analysis where you can connect with other business analysts.

Connect with people, personally, have those conversations, comment on their posts, be part of the conversations so you feel dialed into and connected with the business analysis profession instead of feeling like you’ve got to go this alone. The business analysis profession is truly a giving, generous, very open community. And, so, if you feel like you’re in this alone, it’s because you haven’t been looking for those resources and haven’t been taking advantage of all that there is out there for you. Go out and start looking for it and participating where you can.

Another way to do this might be to hire a coach or a mentor who’s in the business analysis profession and how can give you that 1:1 support and accountability to go after your career goals and to set those milestones, and to be moving forward in your career.

What Will Your Next Step Be?

Those are five things to be thinking about if you feel stuck or you’re not quite sure how to get back on track with your business analyst role. So, my challenge to you, as I would love to hear, what step are you going to take this week?

Leave a comment below. This is a great way to get some accountability and build a little bit of that community. Start to connect with other people who are also leaving comments. Let us know what are you going to do this week to get back on track? What’s the one thing that you’re going to do? It doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be a concrete action step that takes you forward.

Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what it is. Check back in with us when you do it and let us know what you’re going to do next.

>> Learn The Business Analyst Blueprint®

Looking for a complete roadmap to success as a business analyst? We cover all 3 levels of analysis skills, along with the key communication techniques you need to implement to make them successful in The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program.

When you join The Business Analyst Blueprint® certification program, you’ll learn all 12 of the industry-standard techniques and the business analysis process framework – to build your confidence in the best practices of business analysis.

You’ll create validated work samples and be a credentialed business analyst as a recipient of the Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA).

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5 thoughts on “How to Get Your BA Career Back On Track”

  1. Hi Laura,

    I am in a bit of limbo at the moment without knowing what next in my career. I started my career in the ERP space as a functional consultant (With the responsibilities typical of a BA). After about 6 years, I took up different roles that included managing service center teams, Project Manager for Application development/upgrade projects for about 4 years, few months in PMO and back again as a BA for 1 year. Due to circumstances and lack of opportunities, I them moved to Service Management role handling process improvements and later changed track to Business Continuity for about 3 years.
    Now, I am at a stage where I want to go back to what I really loved doing. I have enjoyed both my BA and PM responsibilities, so in a dilemma as to which path I should take considering future prospects.

    Appreciate any guidance.

  2. Hey Laura !!
    i watched your video it was amazing so now i am going to tell you that I will graduate soon and i would love to become Business Analyst so for this give me some tips and recommend me some link so that i would start work on it

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