Author: Geri Schneider Winters
You want to find a Business Analyst position and do not want to stay at your current company. Maybe you are changing careers and are not finding success in sending a resume to a Human Resources department or in response to an ad. Or you have no job experience and no one will talk to you. You looked at my previous article Networking for an Outside Job, and realized that you had no network of professionals to help you find a job.
There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what a Business Analyst is. You have to think creatively about your job hunt. My best advice for finding a Business Analyst job is this: instead of looking for a job and applying for it, think about what the job is that you want to do. Then find a manger who needs someone to do that job, and approach the manager about hiring you to do that work. To find that manager, I suggest using tactics from Direct Marketing.
In this approach, you will assume there are certain issues being faced by a hiring manager. You will craft a cover letter and resume showing how your skills and experience solve those issues for the employer. This is not as powerful approach as the Networking Approach, because instead of finding out the actual issues faced by the manager, you are guessing at the issues. That just means you will send out many more resumes and cover letters in this approach. Both approaches are equally effective.
The first step is to describe the job you want to do. Do this for yourself one day – spend some time to write a one page description of the job you want to do. Reviewing job ads is a great way to get started on this. You will use this information to find companies to apply to.
Now, get a list of people who might hire you. You can go to www.zapdata.com, a list service owned by Dunn & Bradstreet to find US companies. There are similar services for Europe. At zapdata, you can set up a free account, enter your search criteria (which you got from describing the ideal job), then when you are happy, pay the fee, and download the list. What is in this list? It will be a list of people you specified, such as owners or senior managers, at the kinds of companies you specified.
Next, think about the issues a Project Manager faces on a project team. Very often, the people working on his or her team as Business Analysts are really Subject Matter Experts. They do not have the training or experience as a Business Analyst. What is the difference? A Subject Matter Expert (SME) knows his or her business area really well. But he or she may have little or no training or experience in conducting interviews, facilitating requirements gathering sessions, mediating disagreements, writing requirements in many different forms of documentation (so the SME does not know the best form to use to present information), managing change, or managing and reporting on requirements. The SME is usually much less efficient and complete when doing Business Analyst work. That means that project issues that should be discovered early in the project are discovered much later, when they are more expensive to fix. Or maybe the manager is working in a highly confrontational situation. Think about issues you have seen on project teams (or ask some friends) and add to this list.
Look at your background and experience and compare it to the list of issues. Which issues can you solve for the employer? You want to select a few that you know positively you are really good at handling. If you are really good at dealing with difficult people (and want to do that work), then that is an issue you want to pick from the list.
Write a cover letter that addresses the issues you have identified and why you are the best person for the job.
Look over your resume and be sure it is focused on the issues that are important to this manager. You do not have to list every bit of work you have ever done. No one will read all that. Instead, highlight the jobs that are relevant to the issues addressed in the cover letter.
Can you see how this could be more effective than sending copies of your resume to every human resources department and every ad, hoping someone will respond?
I heard of a research study where the best people in a company were asked to disguise their identities and submit job applications to their own company. Not one person was selected for an interview. And yet, these were the best people working for that company! This matches my own experience where I cannot get a job applying through human resources, and yet when I talk to the hiring managers directly, I have no trouble getting the position.
Yes, there is some cost associated with this approach. You may have to pay $150 or $200 for a list of 600 or so people, in addition to the cost of sending all the letters. In the Networking approach, you will spend more time looking for work. In the Direct Marketing approach, you will spend more money. Both approaches work, and you might trying doing both at the same time.