In order to land on an Entry Level Business Analyst job, you really need to understand what does a Business Analyst do?
Business Analyst’s primary role is to help improve business operation efficiency through data analysis and new technology implementation. In general, there are 2 types of Business Analyst on the job market. Business Analyst (Unspecified) and Business (System) Analyst/IT Business Analyst. The line between the 2 different types of Business Analysts tend to be blurred from time to time. However, as an Entry Level Business Analyst seeker, you should understand the difference between them.
The Business Analyst (Unspecified) focuses more on data analysis, business case, or business process, etc. The common education requirement is Bachelors’ degree or equivalent experience in a business related field (i.e. finance, economics). While the Business (System) Analyst/IT Business Analyst is much more IT-oriented. Therefore, the common education requirement can be a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in technology (i.e. computer science, engineering). Some companies also require previous programming experience. At the least, basic knowledge and experience of IT system implementation, programming language and database.
The term Business Analyst has been used very loosely on the job market due to historical reason. Business Analyst can be referring to the Business System Analyst, but it is not often to see the other way. As such, always make sure you read the job description carefully and revise resume to tailor fit the requirements. Business Analyst sometime can be assigned to a job role of Data Analyst, Business Process Analyst, and Business System Analyst. By the way, the Business Process Analyst or Business Process Practitioner is its own profession. Therefore, understanding the type of Business Analyst is crucial to prepare the resume and yourself for the right career path. For instance, you need to demonstrate your knowledge and/or experience with IT system if you are applying for a Business System Analyst.
IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) defines the body of knowledge of Business Analyst. It also issues the certification for Business Analyst, that is widely recognized in North American Job Market. If you want to land on an Entry Level Business Analyst job, make sure you understand the different Business Analyst certification here first. The organization is actually originated from Toronto. Something that all Torontonians should be proud of.
What is the primary difference between the role of a Business Analyst (Unspecified) and a Business (System) Analyst?
As aforementioned, a Business Analyst (Unspecified) can be assigned to different roles. Mostly, you will be analyzing data, conduct market research, create a business case, monitoring operation, generate report and map business processes. As a Business (System) Analyst, you will be working with Business and Functional Requirements. As well as, user case and user acceptance test, etc. For more details, you can refer to the image below. To land on an Entry Level Business Analyst job, there is the concepts you should be familiar with.
What are the top 3 skills required to be a great Business Analyst?
Regardless of Business Analyst (unspecified) or Business (System) Analyst, the top 3 key skills are:
- Communication: you will either be communicating to gather data or requirements or present findings;
- Critical Thinking: you need to find insight out of the ocean of unstructured data or uncover hidden requirements between lines from stakeholders;
- Creativity: creative visual presentment, modeling, reporting, requirement gathering, and analysis, etc.
What is the pay difference between Business Analyst (unspecified) and Business (System) Analyst?
The pay is another intuitive way to understand the difference between the 2 types of analysts.
- Business Analyst (unspecified): an average salary of $58k in Canada, ranging from $43k to $77k;
- Business (System) Analyst: an average salary of $65k in Canada, ranging from $47k to $87k.
The following images show the career path for both analysts. Although the path is more or less the same, the thickness between positions which represents the percentage of career transitions is different.
Once you understand the difference of Business Analysts, here are 7 steps that will help you land on the Entry Level Business Analyst job.
Gain Transferrable Skills
If you ever look up Business Analysts on LinkedIn, you will find a range of different educational background, previous work experience, and technical specialties for all of them. Why? As aforementioned, the top 3 Business Analyst skills requirements are Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativities. These are ALL transferrable skills. What that means is that these are skills can be gained through various positions, it doesn’t have to be a Business Analyst position. Meanwhile, you should always try to participate in projects in a Business Analyst capacity. That is, assume and work like a Business Analyst in any project. Pretend one until you become one.
Gain Technical Skills
To distinguish yourself from competitors, you need to demonstrate technical competency. Such as data analysis (i.e. Excel, VBA automation, Python, SAS, R), software implementation (i.e. Object Oriented Programming, MySql, UAT, UC, QA/QC), business process mapping, change management, business case, etc. I know there are lots to learn, try to prioritize them for the industry you are interested. Go through job positions and understand employers’ requirements. If you don’t have any previous experience, don’t worry, check out free online course website like Coursera. They have free courses can help you gain knowledge and even ear certification in these areas.
Get a Business Analyst Training/Certification
Usually, there is no prerequire to take these training/ certifications. This can be done either online on Coursera or offline at the university like the University of Toronto. There is also the Master Program like Master of Management Analytics from Queens University. Training is not the key to all, but it is a great stepping stone. And education will always help you go a long way.
Look for positions that tend to allow employee transit into the Entry Level Business Analyst position
The easiest way is to check out Business Analysts on LinkedIn. What is their previous position before Business Analyst? There are certain positions (and corporations) tends to allow the employee to transit into the Business Analyst position, such as Call Center Representatives and Customer Service Representative in the banking industry, Marketing Coordinator, Research Assistance, Human Resource Coordinator, Human Resource Assitance, Sales and Project Coordinator, etc.
Networking EFFECTIVELY is the key! Go out and participate in the networking event (i.e. Business Analyst Meetups) and industrial seminars. Talk to Business Analysts, they will share the knowledge and experience with you; talk to Managers who hire Business Analyst, they will share with you the potential opportunities. Fundamentally, you are demonstrating you are enthusiasm and potentially a valuable asset to the team.
Get a Mentor
Undoubtedly, a mentor is a great resource to land on an Entry Level Business Analyst job. How to get one? Just Ask for it!! You will be surprised how willingly that people would like to share their knowledge and experience with others. However, come prepared. What is your short-term and long-term career goals? What are your strength and weakness? It is not only beneficial for yourself to plan own career, but also show respect for other’s time. Always be prepared! Now, a quick tip to find these people on LinkedIn. Use the search term Business Analyst + Industry + Volunteer. That is, you are looking for someone who is currently or used to be a Business Analyst, and working in the industry that you are interested in, and are volunteering. People who are volunteering will be more willing to share and help.
Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills, train yourself with projects that may not be available to you at the workplace. Ultimately, it is one of the GREATEST ways to network and meet new people. By the end of the day, giving back is another great way to gain, no matter relationship and/or knowledge. Plus, it is likely there are senior professionals, who likely can help you land on an entry level Business Analyst position.
I hope these tips are helpful. If you enjoy reading it, feel free to comment below, or share it with your friends. Or, simply press the Facebook link button below. Thank you.