How to Find a Business Analyst Job

Google, find me a business analyst job in Los Angeles.

Sure thing, pal…here’s 19 million results. Good luck.

F*ck you, Google.

We’ve discussed how to leverage LinkedIn in order to help your job search.  It’s always helpful to navigate through your own network first in order to refine your search. But let’s say you have a generic major, and you’re still at a crossroads for where to go.

Let us try and help. If you’re reading this blog, then I’ll make a few assumptions about you:

  1. You can’t read. This is good for you because we have terrible content. You’re probably here to search the awesome images we post. Continue on…
  2. You have an interest in technology
  3. You’re a gold-digging cougar hoping to brush up on your tech talk so you can snag a date with some stud like Melvin or Lloyd

That being said, here are our suggestions.

Become a business analyst. If the term itself sounds generic, it’s because it is. Speaking from experience, here is my definition of what a BA or BSA (Business Systems Analyst) does:

One who works as a liaison between a company’s business owners and the IT side of the company

Business Owner example: the Sales and Marketing teams who are responsible for creating promotions, sales, and incentives. They basically say ‘this product will be 50% off during the month of November’. Hopefully there’s plenty of analysis that led to that decision, but there’s much more to it than changing the price tag of the product. That’s where IT comes in.

In any large company, the IT department (the one that supports the business direction of the company – not the IT that replaces the battery in your mouse) usually spends lots of money maintaining, upgrading and enhancing the network of systems that the company runs off of. In our example, you’d think that marking a product off 50% is just a price tag thing, but there’s much more to it than that. The Accounting team needs to be involved, obviously. Likely the Legal department needs to be involved -they probably have a system and process for these types of changes as well. Some companies have portfolio management teams that need to be involved of the level of effort and associated costs. And again, the Sales & Marketing team who originated the idea/project need to be involved throughout as well.

The BA is what makes all of these pieces fit together. If the Sales & Marketing team now decides to mark the product 60% off instead of 50%, they don’t want to know the Javascript implications. They don’t want to talk to an enterprise architect to understand the changes to the framework that results. They don’t want to talk to Legal – they just want the change to happen. The BA is responsible for assessing the impact of such a change, and translating it into language that the Sales & Marketing team can understand.

Do I need previous experience?

Companies will ask for previous experience because it helps justify hiring you, but if you can massage your resume to include some of these basic concepts, you’ll fit right in:

  1. ‘use vlookup and pivot tables in excel’
    1. Excel is a great tool that can be used by anyone. Being savvy can get you access to buttloads of important information. And the next time your boss has a task that requires Excel analysis, you’ll be first in line.
  2. ‘experience working within the entire SDLC’
    1. The Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is something that every IT organization uses, so there are a million variations of it. Google it to find an explanation that makes sense.
  3. ‘gathered requirements’
    1. Requirements are what the Business Owners submit to the Business Analyst in order to initiate an idea/project. They too come in a myriad of forms. Some companies use pre-defined templates that outline every other team that may be impacted, cost implications, resource capacity, etc…Other companies use Excel to maintain a running list of requirements.
  4. ‘experience in agile/scrum and waterfall methodologies’
    1. For whatever reason, hiring managers think it’s relevant if you can clarify the methodology you’ve used before. Worry not, these don’t mean too much. Most companies use agile/scrum, which is essentially just an iterative approach to development .The idea is to have multiple reviews/checkpoints before the final product so that feedback can be received regularly and adaptations made if necessary. Waterfall takes more of a ‘run till you finish’ mentality. The benefits of waterfall are that it doesn’t take as long since you can sprint to an end goal, versus agile/scrum where the end goal may be much different than the original end goal.
  5. ‘microsoft sharepoint,, toad, mysql, etc…’
    1. It’s a technology position, so the more sexy technology tools you can list, the better. However, keep the list relatively short so that you can actually speak to each of the tools – otherwise it will look like you use 100 tools that are irrelevant to the company.

After you’ve cleaned up your resume, now what?

Call IT Recruiting firms. There are hundreds, some generic and some specialized. Google IT Recruiting firms or IT Staffing firms. Ask to speak to a recruiter for Business (System) Analyst positions in your area. These recruiters are trained to be people friendly, but also sales people. Be comforted by the former, and aware by the latter.

Here’s what to expect during the initial call:

  1. Are you looking for full time or contract positions?
    1. Contract positions pay hourly, and full time is salary (usually with benefits provided by the company). There are also usually Contract-to-hire positions, where companies like to ‘test drive’ their contractors before offering a full time spot.
    2. For reference, a contract position that works every business day of the year (contractors do not get paid vacation) at $50 an hour equates to roughly $100,000 per year
  2. What are you looking for in terms of compensation?
    1. Shoot high, but like any professional discussion, remind them that you would always take a great opportunity and compromise compensation if necessary
  3. When can you start?
    1. The sooner the better
  4. Where have you worked before?
    1. Be prepped to discuss your resume, and remember to keep it professional and relevant. Even though you’re just speaking to a recruiter at this stage, they’re judging you before they try and place you. They need to feel confident you can represent them.

The next phase will usually consist of your recruiter(s) contacting you for any available positions. If they find you something of interest, then you can ask to be submitted. At that point, the company will likely ask for a phone interview, followed by an in person interview.

In the meantime, you can scour Google by yourself…good luck, only 18,999,999 more pages to go!