If it’s been a few years since you’ve dusted off your resume, it’s likely that you have a host of relevant experiences that need to be included as potential selling points for your next employer. And, if you are like many of the BAs I talk to, your career experiences are varied and unique. You have held different roles on various projects and taken on extra responsibilities to make sure a project is successful. You might start to list your “responsibilities” only to find that this laundry list of various activities doesn’t do a very good job of telling a story of who you are and what you bring to the table.
In this article, I’ll walk through a process that has helped almost every business analyst job seeker I’ve worked with transform the work history section of their resume to emphasize the most relevant career experiences. This process results in a different structure to the work history section – you still organize your experiences by job and by employer, but instead of including one list of bullet points for each job, you have the flexibility to add bullet points specific to each project you’ve worked on. This allows you to pick and choose what experiences you emphasize and give more attention in your resume to your most relevant career experiences, while also being 100% honest about your professional experience.
(By the way, this is just one of 8 Business Analyst Resume Secrets You Need to Know Especially If You’ve Never Held the BA Job Title.)
Let’s look at the four steps you can take to elaborate your work history by including project summaries.
Step 1 – Identify Key Projects in Your Work History
The first thing you want to do is list some of the key projects in your career, paying careful attention to those that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Big impact for your organization;
- You took on new responsibilities or otherwise excelled in some way;
- Close match to the type of work you want to be doing in your next position.
Not all projects will make it on your resume. In fact, you might develop project summaries for several projects and then select the key ones that best match a specific job you are applying for.
As you go through the list, start diagnosing the project.
- What did you contribute?
- What did you learn?
- What deliverables did you create?
- What would others say about your work?
Look at the project from multiple different angles to get a clear picture of the experience. This step takes a good understanding of your business analyst skills and it can be helpful to go through a skills discovery process so you know what projects to highlight and skills to represent.
Step 2 – Write a Summary for Each Project
With the background information in hand, write a short 1-2 sentence summary of the project.
Although there are no hard and fast rules, what I’ve seen work best is to have a sentence or two describing the project. These should hit the high points:
- What was your role?
- What, in essence, did you contribute?
- What impact did the project have on your organization?
Once you are done, you’ll have a bunch of mini-elevator pitches ready, any one of which might be the exact thing your next hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. You’ll also be using your resume to suggest some very compelling discussion topics, should you get called in for a business analyst job interview.
Step 3 – Write a Set of Bullet Points for Each Project
Next consider a few bullet points that back-up your project statement. You’ll want to select a few experiences that showcase your ability to use business analysis tools and techniques to achieve a tangible outcome for your project or your organization. You might think about one bullet each for the beginning, middle, and end of the project. These bullet points should detail specific contributions that you made. Wherever you can, include numbers to quantify your role. Here you want to be very concrete.
Elicited business requirements from 10 stakeholders to define a validated scope statement.
You can improve how you position not just your business analysis skills, but also your soft skills, by identifying how you impacted the project. As you think about a statement like the above, consider what challenges you faced doing this specific activity. When you are eliciting requirements, stakeholders don’t often just line themselves up in a row and sign on the dotted line. There is facilitation involved and maybe you helped overcome conflict. Maybe they had different understandings of some key terms and so couldn’t agree on scope. What did you specifically add to the elicitation process that helped make the project more successful?
After such a diagnosis of your experience, you may end up with something that looks more like this:
Elicited business requirements from 10 stakeholders across 4 departments, overcoming inter-departmental differences in understanding about key business processes by drafting high-level process flows, resulting in a validated scope statement.
There are probably 20 ways to write the above accomplishment and how you choose to do it will depend on which professional qualifications you want to emphasize in your business analyst resume. But doesn’t it have some punch? Don’t you feel like the person who could write this is likely to know a good deal about how to be a good BA?
Step 4 – Include Selected Project Summaries in the Work History Section
It’s likely you’ve worked on several projects. After drafting the summaries and bullet points for each project, consider which ones have the most impact and are most relevant to the type of position you are applying for. Insert 3-5 projects into your work history section, indenting them below the appropriate job. If you are applying to multiple different kinds of business analyst jobs, you can swap projects in and out of your work history section so you are emphasizing career experiences the recruiter and hiring manager are most likely to find interesting.
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