Creating Business Analyst Resumes for the 21st Century

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Business Analyst Resumes for the 21st CenturyIn an increasingly competitive marketplace, the practice of resume writing is not what it used to be. Resumes must be more clean, concise, and convincing than they were in recent years. Today’s business analysts need every edge they can get. The following tips may be helpful in preparing your resume for a competitive job search.

Write for people. Your resume should read well, be clear and concise, and have even formatting and fonts. If grammar and syntax are not your strengths (or even if they are), it would be useful to have an editor or proofreader give your writing a second look once you feel the piece is finished.

Also, most modern resume designs are a bit sleeker than the more staid ones of the past. For some ideas on contemporary resume layouts, do a web search of resume templates and layouts. Examples abound, and you are sure to find one you’re comfortable with. A word of caution: Be contemporary, but be conservative. While the business analyst profession is forward-thinking, it is not, as a whole, edgy enough to embrace pastels, self-photographs or intricate designs. Think clean, sleek, modern, and professional. Use bullets and white space to keep the resume looking readable and organized. Finally, try not to exceed two pages.

Write for machines as well as people. Be aware that the first filter your electronic resume encounters may very well not be human. “Inundated with hundreds—or thousands—of resumes for some positions, many companies are using technology to streamline resume screening.”1 Another site notes, “If your resume doesn’t have the keywords related to the job you are applying for, you will be out even before the game starts.”2 To that end, include plenty of applicable keywords in your resume, such as those that typify your skill set, and be sure to reflect the language used in the job posting. Also, use variations of relevant keywords, such as business analysis, business analyst, systems analyst, requirements, UML, business objectives, business goals, and so on. You may also want to consider creating multiple versions of a resume to have readily available to send out for various types of positions (more technical versus more business-oriented, for example) or for various types of organizations (such as larger ones where you would be strictly an analyst or smaller ones where the job description may include multiple disciplines). Be sure to tailor the keywords in each type of resume to the position and company for which it is intended.

Include any cross-training expertise that you can bring to the table. As companies downsize and learn to do more with less, many business analyst job descriptions, even at larger companies, also include other fields—such as testing or quality analysis; software development; support; or training. If you have experience in any of these fields and would not be averse to helping in those areas, be sure to note it as something that you can bring to the table.

Quantify, quantify, quantify. Include any relevant quantitative elements related to your past work. Numbers and statistics often communicate more powerfully than words, and make resumes more clear and competitive in the 21st century.

Quantify your accomplishments. If you know that you elevated the standard number of users your company interviewed for requirements gathering from 2 to 20, include that. If second and third revisions of software fixes fell 30 percent during your tenure with the company, note that. (But don’t be misleading: if this was due to someone else’s efforts, leave it out.)

Quantify your responsibilities. Whenever possible, be specific. Instead of “coordinated requirements research with stakeholders,” specify “coordinated requirements research and approval with over 30 stakeholders on a weekly basis.” This is not only more persuasive writing, it’s also more interesting.

Quantify money and time saved or earned. This doesn’t have to be actual income that was generated in sales or traditional revenue streams. It can be money or time saved in your daily work. For example, if you told your manager that you could use virtual meeting software instead of traveling, note the specifics of that: “Introduced the use of a virtual meeting system that reduced my travel time from approximately 3 weeks a year to four days, saving the company an average of $4,000 annually.”

While they may take some time to remember or research, numbers that you can cite from your work with past companies are a powerful inclusion in any bulleted section of achievements, so they are worth the extra thought and research to unearth. For more idea-joggers on quantifying your achievements, see Peter Vogt’s article on monster.com.3

Brush up on your continuing education and certifications. With so many qualified individuals searching for work, certifications and continuing education—both of which indicate you are skilled and up-to-date in your field—are more meaningful than ever. While the CBAP4 (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification remains the gold standard among business analysis credentials, it can be time-consuming to obtain, and not everyone qualifies to sit for the exam early in their careers. Explore online courses and seminars in your area. (A few possibilities are included in the resources links below.)

Know how to explain your non-analyst experience in a relatable way. Even if you do not have 3+ or 5+ years of experience in business analysis (what many positions require) or even a related technical field, you likely have transferable skills that relate to the business analysis discipline. Most business analyst positions require strong communication skills, good researching abilities, excellent interpersonal relations, meticulous attention to detail, organization, diplomacy, and so on. Your background is likely to have nurtured one or more of these strengths in you. Help your reader to see the connections between your past experience and their current needs.

Consider the practicality of a functional resume versus chronological resume. A chronological resume5 is just what it sounds like—a chronological history of your work and experience, with each position including the dates you worked, your title, the organization you worked for, and a description of your responsibilities and achievements. A functional resume6 focuses primarily on your skill set, and mentions your chronological work history briefly afterward. If your analyst experience is a bit light or you don’t have many years working in technical fields, a functional resume may serve you well. Functional resumes are also useful in making periods of unemployment less conspicuous to a reviewer.

When sending your resume to multiple outlets, use the software that will work in your favor. If you are casting your job search with a wide net, the friendliest software for creating your resume is probably going to be Microsoft Office Word. When finished, save a version as text-only, clean up any formatting issues, and use it for sites that require you to cut and paste your resume into a text box. (You can create a lovely resume in Publisher, but converting it to text-only may make a mess.) For potential employers that enable you to send your resume as an attached file, consider saving it as a PDF from your Word file. (For those with Office 2007, you’ll need to download an add-on to do this , available here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=f1fc413c-6d89-4f15-991b-63b07ba5f2e5&displaylang=en. For earlier versions of Office, use http://www.primopdf.com/index.aspx). Also, when casting a wide net for sending out your resume, you may want to create a version without your home address for security. Consider opening a free email account specifically for job searching so that your personal or work account is not bombarded. (And use an address name that sounds professional. You would be surprised at how many applicants use names such as lovelady92 or bigsoftballguru—not the impression you want to make.)

If you want to do further research, consider these resources:

Remember that a job search and resume creation is a perfect time to put your hard-earned analyst skills into practice. Approach your job search from a practical business analyst’s perspective: determine your goals (the business case), discover what you need to do to get there (the business requirements), and then decide the best path for achieving that (the business solution), which is your tailored resume. Hopefully some of the tips in this piece will help you more reach your ideal business solution—a perfectly polished resume—and the great job that will eventually accompany it more quickly.

 

Author: Morgan Masters is Business Analyst and Staff Writer at ModernAnalyst.com, the premier community and resource portal for business analysts. Business analysis resources such as articles, blogs, templates, forums, books, along with a thriving business analyst community can be found at http://www.ModernAnalyst.com  


1 Steen, Margaret. “Resumes for the Digital Age: 7 tips for mastering keywords and electronic formatting,” for Yahoo! HotJobs. http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-resumes_for_the_digital_age-1297 Accessed July 10, 2010.

2 http://www.dailywritingtips.com/resume-writing-tips/ Accessed July 10, 2010.

3 Vogt, Peter. “Use Numbers to Highlight Your Accomplishments.” http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/resume-writing-tips/numbers-to-highlight-accomplishments/article.aspx Accessed July 15, 2010.

4 http://www.theiiba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=CBAP_Benefits&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=6753 Accessed July 10, 2010.

5 Example of chronological resume: http://jobstar.org/tools/resume/tempchr.php Accessed July 10, 2010.

6 Example of functional resume: http://jobstar.org/tools/resume/tempfun.php Accessed July 10, 2010.

Article photo © Albachiaraa - Fotolia.com





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