Business Analyst roles span a broad-range of sectors, responsibilities and tech stacks – so it can at times be tricky to establish whether a role is suited to your experience and skills.
To help, I put together a few tips to bear in mind when writing a BA application, including what hiring managers look for when recruiting BA roles – both the nice-to-haves, and the non-negotiables.
The aim is to help you identify the right role for you based on your experience, to make sure you're spending your time in the right places and establish the gaps in your application if you're seeking to break into a competitive sector.
1. CVs need to be tailored to every application.
The 'essential requirements' are the first things they will check for – so establish you have them, then base your application and CV around them. As an exercise, write down an example next to every-one where you have exhibited that skill or quality - candidates who don't have these obviously displayed won't make it past the CV stage. Common non-negotiables are: agile methodology, senior stakeholder management (for example, citing that you have worked directly with individuals of partner and above), global delivery, knowledge of specific software (iManage, Elite 3e, Aderant, SAP), and sector experience (more on this below). If you have all of these, move on to the desirable requirements. If you have nearly all of these also, then rewrite your CV around these two lists.
2. For certain roles, sector experience is imperative, especially in professional services.
This is especially prevalent in the contract market, because companies need individuals who can hit the ground running – which makes breaking into these sectors very difficult. Migration can be easier in the permanent market, where there is longer time to acquire new skills. Hiring managers may also forgive a lack of sector experience where a candidate has extremely in-depth knowledge of implementing a specific tech-stack.
3. It's worth asking advice from the right places.
If you've established that you have all the essential requirements, but are still unsure whether a role is suited to you or not, call the consultant who is working on the role - they have the most information on the role and will understand the client's requirements, so will be able to give you a clear indication as to whether a role is for you.
4. The ideal CV is short, easy on the eye, and very specific to the role.
If you're adhering to the first rule of this post and tailoring your CV to each application, then two / three pages absolute maximum should be enough to detail all your relevant experience. Lay everything out in bullet points rather than block paragraphs. Focus more detail on your most recent roles (typically the last three or four). Don't worry about giving them equal space – provide most detail (5-6 bullet points) on the roles which you've identified as most relevant to the role you are applying for, then condense non-relevant ones under the description of "various roles."
It pays to always have an IT qualifications section, to make your skills obvious to someone reading your CV for the first time. If a job specification asks for a particular set of core skills – for example - agile delivery – don't miss an opportunity to emphasise you have experience of this kind - then re-emphasise at every permissible point.
Sean Kiff works within the Financial & Professional Services Interim Change & Transformation Practice, specifically focusing on the legal, insurance and banking sectors.
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