Hi, do you know one of the best roles you can play on a project is that of a business analyst? That’s right. The business analyst gets to talk ‘business’ with the users – ‘re-engineering’ work processes, gathering system requirements and otherwise perform all manner of interesting data analysis.
It is one of the most popular jobs in the IT industry and – increasingly – one of the most important, next to the project manager.
If you’re looking for a business analyst role in a company, you should know there are certain skill sets you need to bring out in your resume.
A business analyst needs to be an excellent communicator. A detail oriented person. Very good with presentations to senior management. Great at time management, scope control and negotiation. The list goes on.
In this article, I thought I’d share with you what an example of a business analyst resume, so you get a good idea what sort of skills and experiences you should bring out.
Now, before we zoom in on how a business analyst resume should look like, let’s first understand what a BA does.
To me, the role of a business analyst really comes down to a few things. A business analyst is:
- A requirements modeler
- A junior project manager
- Industry and solution expert
Let’s try to understand each of the above.
A requirements modeler
First and foremost, I think that a BA is a ‘requirements modeler’. What is a requirements modeler? To me, it’s someone who can extract business system requirements from stakeholders and represent them in a form that is easy for BOTH business and IT to understand.
The truth is that, modern business systems are tremendously complex beasts and you need a ‘bridge between business and IT’ (i.e. the business analyst) to ensure what the system users think the system should be is truly represented in the ultimate system delivered by IT.
It takes a special skill set in order to do this, including an analytical mindset to challenge and automate manual choke points in business processes, a good grasp of technology, as well as careful attention to details in system specifications.
A junior project manager
The other role I think a BA plays is that of a junior project manager. How is a business analyst a project manager? I’ve touched briefly on this topic, playing out the areas where PMs and BAs have overlapping skill sets.
A BA is also a junior project manager
You see, a BA needs to do many of the things a PM does – define and control scope, negotiate change requests to the system, facilitate meetings / workshops and be adept at managing senior stakeholders.
The one areas BAs don’t touch though, is the ‘big picture’ – they focus on one particular module or functional domain, but leave the running of the entire project – milestones and go-live dates – to the PM.
Industry and solution expert
A BA is also adept at industry and system solutions. For a business analyst in the banking domain, this means he or she is well versed in banking parlance, e.g. client risk profiling, investment suitability, CRM, sales / services channels, CASA, e-banking, ATM kiosks, the trade life cycle – the list goes on.
In addition, the BA will know some specific system solutions (e.g. Siebel for CRM, Temenos for core banking systems) which help them in answering users’ queries as to whether a solution can meet their business requirements.
The best BAs also certify themselves, tapping on the accreditation programmes rolled out by third-party vendors (e.g. certified Siebel or Temenos consultants are in high demand out there).
I’ve gone on at length about what a BA does and I’m starting to detract from the actual purpose of this article – business analyst resume.
But I feel it’s important to understand the BA role well so that you can represent your skill sets much better to your potential employer.
2. Resume Sample
Ok, let’s jump into a example of a business analyst resume, which I’ve attached over here (confidential content has been sanitized).
I’ve used this resume format for many years and used it to clinch BA (and also project manager positions) in well-known consulting firms and international banks in Asia (particularly Singapore).
If you look at the sample resume, you’ll see the following major sections:
- Professional Profile
- Work Experience
- Professional Memberships and Certification
- Awards / Recognitions
- Areas of Expertise (Industries, Skill Areas, Software, Technical)
Let’s step through each section in turn.
The professional profile section is easily the MOST important section your entire BA resume. Why? Because it’s the first thing your potential interviewer will read! Get it wrong, and it’s likely your resume is headed for the thrash bin.
The intention of this section is to give the employer an overview of your career profile to-date. So in the sample resume I’ve attached, I first talk about my role and what I do in my CURRENT company.
Then I follow up with the roles and responsibilities in my PREVIOUS companies. Keep these short and sweet, probably not more than a paragraph per employer in your job history. As you describe your roles, mention WHAT role it is, what the major responsibilities were and how many YEARS your spent there.
I’d then round off with a paragraph on my specializations and skill sets – for a system business analyst, it’s good to bring out three things here – functional domain knowledge (i.e. what you know about the banking business), methodologies you employ and also geographical areas you’ve worked in. It’s also useful to bring out any major accreditation you have in this section.
In particular, it’s interesting to note I mentioned ‘geographical areas‘ in the above. Increasingly, employers (at least those in Asia) are interested in candidates with a broad international outlook – so if you’ve worked in the Congo, Moscow or Borneo – those are great highlights to include here.
The countries you’ve worked in also help to differentiate your resume just a wee bit from the others – I mean, everyone may know about banking business analysis, requirements gathering and so forth, but not many may have done such work in several Asian countries.
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The next section – work experience – is critical for detailing your job history. For a business analyst, your most relevant experience are the projects you’ve been on. So focus on the projects you’ve done over the years (instead of Business-As-Usual (BAU) roles).
I start this section off by listing down each company I’ve worked for in reverse chronological order (latest first). Then, for each company, I start off specifying the DURATION of the employment there, along with a brief paragraph describing the ROLE I played in the company.
If you played several roles in the company during your tenure, I’d find a suitable role title and still stick to a one paragraph description of what you did there.
Then, once the overall description of the role you played at the company is complete, I go project by project and specify the DURATION, the LOCATION and the ROLE I played in each project.
If I played multiple roles in a project, I combine the role titles or separate them with a slash. Each role in a project is accompanied with a paragraph describing what responsibilities I had in the role.
I also try to focus on OUTPUT (meaning the KPIs I achieved, exactly HOW MANY documents I wrote, the SIZE of teams I led, or the CONTRACT VALUE of projects I’ve been on)
These numbers help to quantify and lock in the interviewer’s attention and also make your contributions very explicit and measurable (as opposed to being fluffy).
Do take note that the work experience section can be very long, especially if you have a decade or more of work experience.
If that’s the case, I’d suggest you DO NOT highlight each and every project you did in the companies you worked for – either you highlight only the key projects or leave the projects out altogether, describing only the role you played at the company in one or two paragraphs.
For senior hires, most employers won’t expect you to describe EVERY project you did in your career history anyway.
Case Study:I’ve been in (at last count) over 16 projects in my 12-year career in IT and management consulting. When I left my first IT consulting firm to apply for a business analyst role in a bank, I used the template above.
It worked out really well. Over time, I tweaked the format once in a while so as to suit whatever position I was applying for. So in the end, I’ve a collection of resume templates that can be used in almost any job application I make.
You should do that too – tweak your resume slightly to cater to different job applications. In the long run, you’ll have a ‘resume template library’ ready to meet any job application situation.
Also, do take note that employers make reference checks. Be careful about mentioning work experience that you DON’T HAVE.
I’ve known some young candidates who played up their work experience so they could negotiate for better salaries or positions, but I’d NEVER advise you to do that. Be truthful, sell yourself based on what you have – don’t befuddle your employer.
Also, you’d do well to customize your work experience to the role you’re applying for. If, for example, you’re applying for a banking business analyst position – I’d naturally play up my expertise with banking system solutions and also banking domain knowledge. I’d leave out projects which delve into telecommunications, manufacturing or other unrelated area.
The next section on education is also important. List out any degrees / certificates and the education institutions from which they were obtained. It’s also important to indicate the year in which the degrees / certificate was conferred.
Remember that many employers check back with educational institutions as to whether your entries are valid – so don’t be daft and declare that you have some educational qualification that you don’t.
Professional Memberships and Certification
Any professional memberships / certifications you have should go into this section. If you’re a certified business analyst (e.g. you have an accreditation from the International Institute of Business Analysis, or IIBA), then put it down.
Or, if you’re a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) – you should also put it down here. You’d be surprised – many employers of BAs and PMs these days DO in fact look at the IIBA and PMP as validations of your capabilities. So they are good accreditations to go after.
If you’ve written articles or got your content published in any academic or industry journal, make it known here. I always encourage my juniors to get known for something in the industry.
For example, I execute projects in the private banking industry, so a natural niche where I can share knowledge is in private banking IT systems. I try to locate some well-known magazines or journals to contribute to – and if you’re published, it really adds credibility to your level of expertise.
Awards / Recognitions
The same goes for any awards or recognitions you have – be they academic or from industry. Take note not to go overboard though – I’d list down more professional level awards rather than awards you got from school – unless the school award you got is really significant.
Areas of Expertise
I also include a couple of sections at the end of the business analyst resume in the areas of Industries, Skill Areas, Software, Technical.
Why do I split it like this? Because I want to draw the employer’s attention to my skills. Take note that you should not list down EVERY single skill you have. Rather, consider the needs of your potential employer and list down any RELEVANT skill you have.
- If I’m applying to be a project manager, then one of my Skill Areas should be project management and stakeholder management, for example.
- If you’re applying for a role of a business analyst in implementing a core banking system, I’d name systems like Temenos, Olympic or SilverLake under the Software section.
- If I am trying to clinch a BA role that is a bit more technical, I may list down under Technical skills the expertise I have in C++, Oracle, Microsoft SQL server, etc.
4. Other Thoughts
The above are the basics of what goes into a sample business analyst resume. I do have some other thoughts about BA job roles that may be useful for you to know.
Demand for BAs
Business analysts are very hot roles in the market, particularly in industries like banking and insurance.
Most firms like to hire business analysts because (1) they are cheaper than project managers (2) they can handle a significant portion of the software development life cycle (SDLC) – from requirements, to some design, as well as testing.
Make sure you do some research into the salary range of a business analyst in the industry you’re going to.
Previous BA Experience
If you’ve have previous experience as a BA, even if you’re in a different industry, chances are the employer will still give you a shot.
BAs are known for being able to adapt and execute project methodologies regardless of what industry or solution domain they are in.
It’s certainly advantageous to know what private banking is about or how a CRM software works, but on the whole, the foundational skill set of a BA (data analysis and elicitation of requirements) is something that is applicable to ANY industry.
Why I Love Being A BA
I never did tell you that I love being a BA. You know, in my current role, I’m a project manager, but I really miss the days of being a BA.
The reason? A BA is the best role for understanding a business and you get to interview, run workshops and interact with all sorts of people. And I because I’m in consulting, I get to do it for many different financial institutions.
Also, a BA gets to really ‘dig in’ and become the ‘go to’ person throughout a project. Because you’re there since the start of the project, and you understand what the users want, you’re a natural subject matter expert on all business requirements within the project team. I enjoy being that ‘go to’ person throughout the duration of the project.
Also, I guess I prefer a BA job that over a programmer’s job where I’m hunched over a computer screen all day. I also prefer it over being say, a solution architect of IT systems.
But I guess after a decade of BA experience, most people move on to being project managers (like I have) or start on other different adventures.
I just want to make it known being a BA is great! So treasure your time if you get a BA job.
Wrapping Up …
I hope the above has given you a good understanding of two things.
Firstly, you should now know what a BA does and what kind of roles he or she plays in a system implementation project.
Secondly, and very importantly, I’ve shown you an example of a good business analysis resume so that you have a better chance of securing an interview with your potential employer.
If you have any questions at all about embarking on a BA career, do drop me a note. I’d love to share my thoughts with you, particularly on the BA job market here in Asia and in Singapore.
That’s all I have for now. Until next time, good luck hunting for that BA job!
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