In this episode, Laura Brandenburg explains how to use your existing skills and grow your experience to start a career in business analysis.
After listening to this episode, you'll understand:
- What key skills you need to become a successful business analyst
- How to expand your business analysis experience
- How to know what skills hiring companies need
- Benefits of connecting with other business analysis professionals
To get started in the business analysis career, you’ll need to have a few key skills. The most important skill is communication. This includes not only written communication as in the documenting of requirements, but also verbal communication and facilitation.
You’ll need to be able to draw information out of people and relay that information in a clear and direct way. Good communication skills are foundational. From there you can layer on other skills such as visual modeling, facilitation, and business analysis techniques.
It’s difficult to get a role as a business analyst without experience as a business analyst. We need to be able to find a way to grow our experience without having that role.
There are a lot of people were performing business analysis work without having the title of business analyst. There may be skills and experience in your current role or in your past that you can leverage. What’s relevant is that you have experience doing the kinds of things that a business analyst does.
You may have experience in communicating with stakeholder groups, facilitating meetings, mapping of business processes, or working with the software solution.
The first step is to reflect back on your experience and pull out the skills and knowledge you’ve gained that aligns to business analysis. You can then learn the BA terminology and translate your experience into the skills and techniques of the business analyst.
Once you’ve mapped your skills and experience, look for opportunities to apply those skills and techniques in your job. Use this to not only build your business analysis experience, but also demonstrate that you can perform business analysis tasks successfully.
This can lead to a snowball effect where small successes can lead to more opportunities and more experience.
Find out what skills you’ll need
You can learn more about what kind of skills employers are looking for by joining local professional groups such as the International Institute for Business Analysis (IIBA) or the Project Management Institute (PMI). There, you can talk to other professionals to learn more about their role in what skills and techniques are born to be successful.
You can also read books such as the Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) and listened to podcasts (such as this one). There are many great books, webinars, and training classes you can take to learn more about the role of the business analyst.
You should also look at business analyst job postings in your area to understand the skills and capabilities employers are looking for. This can be done early on is your exploring the possibility of a career in business analysis. However, you should also do this throughout your career to identify potential gaps in your knowledge and experience and to stay current.
Looking at job postings within your organization or externally in your local area is a great way to understand the skills required and identify gaps in your experience.
Filling in the gaps
Once you’ve identified gaps in your skills and experience, you can seek out opportunities to try new skills and gain experience. This can be done within your organization or by helping charity groups and nonprofit organizations. You can also gain experience by helping out friends who own businesses or volunteering at professional organizations.
Listen to the full episode to get all of Laura’s tips on starting a career in business analysis and what to do when you land your first BA role.
Take one technique from the BABOK or another business analysis book and apply it in your work or outside your organization to gain practical experience. If you can apply that technique while engaging with a stakeholder, it well do even more to enhance your experience and give you confidence.
Links mentioned in this episode:
Bridging The Gap
Laura Brandenburg is an internationally-recognized leader known for helping mid-career professionals start business analysis careers. Laura brings more than a decade of experience as a full-time business analyst to help you find transferable BA skills, expand your experience, and start your business analyst career with confidence. Laura is also the author of How to Start a Business Analyst Career.
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