In this episode, consultant and blogger Alex Papworth shares his advice for starting a career as a Business Analyst – how to get and succeed in your first role as a BA.

Alex Papworth has over 20 years’ experience in IT. Through his website, Business Analyst Mentor, Alex has facilitated the sharing of expertise and experience for the business analyst community. Alex also provides resources and services to support business analysts pursuing professional development.

After listening to this episode, you will know:

  • How to find opportunities to advance your BA skills and experience
  • How to target your job search
  • What you need to do to be successful as you begin your BA career

Show Notes

Know Thyself
Do inventory of your skills and see how they align to the requirements of the position. Focus on characteristics and capabilities around soft skills as those skills gives you the greatest long term ability. Those skills include communication, influencing, and active listening.

Once you’ve completed your self-assessment, you can begin your job hunt by crafting your resume or CV to highlight those skills as they would be applied to a Business Analyst role. Next, define your strategy for pursuing your first role. The key is understanding your strengths and identifying your unique selling proposition (USP) that will give you a leg up on the competition. Some examples may include project management experience or business domain experience.

The knowledge about your strengths and skills will allow you to hone your strategy about which roles and employers you will target as part of your job search. Don’t aim for every company and every role. Pick and choose the ones that provide the best opportunities for you to use your strengths.


How to Land Your First BA Role
Keep in mind that even if you don’t have the title of Business Analyst, you may still be doing business analysis work that is applicable to the role.

Start by looking at BA roles with your current employer and see if there are opportunities to work alongside business analysts. Start building contacts and offer help to the business analysts. Ask if you can shadow or observe them as they work to learn more about the role.

Outside of your organization, look for opportunities with family, friends, volunteer organizations, and other areas that might benefit from your skills. Offering your time and services for free can allow you to build your experience.


Success is All About Mindset

To be successful in your new role, you need to have a learning mindset. Look at work as an opportunity to learn and take up new challenges.

A well-known study showed some important information about how people learn. 70% of learning occurs on the job, 20% occurs with other people, and 10% is from formal learning. Typically we look at formal learning as the way to increase our skills and knowledge. We need to recognize that instead, the workplace is the best place to learn.

Maximize your learning from everything new you do by reflecting back on what worked and what didn’t. You can even form a small community of peers and share ideas and experiences to learn from each other.

Self-awareness is a critical quality to be a top Business Analyst. It allows you to focus on continuous improvement.


Alex’s Tip

Contribute to the BA community. This can be done through a blog or participation in discussions on social media communities or industry events. Sharing your knowledge and experiences creates openness and allows you and others to increase your skills and knowledge. Look to give before you receive anything. Start sharing and building connections.


What’s Your Take?
How did you get your first BA job?  Do you have any advice to share?  Please share your experience in the comments below.


Links mentioned in this episode

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