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How to Skip Right Past Entry-Level Analyst Positions

By Laura Brandenburg, Host, Bridging-the-Gap; Founder and Instructor, My Business Analysis Career

Originally published at http://www.bridging-the-gap.com

If you are an experienced professional, let’s face it, the idea of starting a job that is “entry-level” or with the title of “junior” is not very appealing. Not to mention the salary cut you’d likely have to take. All those years of experience have to be worth something, right? If you are going to be a business analyst, do you have to throw away all your hard-earned professional credibility?

Nope, not at all.

In business analysis, your experience counts. Big time.

Of course, not all experience counts. If you’ve been pumping gas on a boat dock or waiting tables (I’ve done both), you won’t have a lot of relevant experience to draw from. (Though Adrian Reed made the case that your customer service skills will be an asset in your business analysis career.) I’ve also seen professionals from technical support, training, sales, recruiting, and accounting identify relevant experience. And I’m sure I could eke out some relevant professional experience from tutoring elementary school students, working the library reference desk, and even from my role as an assistant editor at a large publishing company.

And then there are roles that just plain include business analysis responsibilities. For example, I re-framed a part of my experience as a Quality Assurance Engineer and Systems Analyst as part of the qualifying hours I documented for the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) exam. I’ve also seen individuals from the technical writing, project management, general management, consulting, and software engineering professions skip right into full-fledged business analyst roles and do really well.

The short story is, if you can pull together a mix of related experiences from amongst several professional roles related to business analysis, you might just have the makings of a tried and true business analyst. Not “junior.” Not “entry-level.” Just “Business Analyst.”

And you might be thinking that this is just another strategy that happens to work for some professionals, especially those professionals who have more experience than you or who aren’t quite so new to the profession. The thing is, it’s actually the most common path to business analysis I see work at all, even for professionals who start out thinking that they don’t have much relevant experience to draw from. Let’s look at a few examples.

Joan Davis shared her story of transitioning from the HR department to an IT intern. After applying to many internal jobs unsuccessfully, she decided on a different approach.

“Eventually I had a heart-to-heart with the IT Department Head, recapping my assets as someone who was capable of comparable work plus knowledgeable of the business side, someone that might soon be lost to a competitor given no other choice. Read the entire post.”

As Michelle Swoboda advised one of our readers, based on her own experience in overcoming a tough local job market:

All your skills are transferable and you can translate your résumé into the career that you are passionate about—just find out what that is! It is well worth the time and energy. Read the entire post.”

>Even recent college grads can make use of this strategy. Eric Watrakiewicz, the second BA added to our 2012 Registry, used professional experience he gained in his first year out of college to position himself as more experienced and therefore ready for the BA role.

“I identified the skills and experiences in my background that would be relevant to a BA role and rewrote my resume so that it would reflect those skills and experiences. I then targeted BA (or similar) positions that didn’t require more than 2 to 3 years of work experience. Although I had only 7 months of work experience out of college, I was able to persuade my interviewers that I was more than capable of performing the job. I actually ended up with two offers for BA positions. Read the entire post.”

How about you? What’s your story? Share a bit about your career background and I’ll help you think about how to skip right past those entry-level positions.

©iStockphoto.com/Dmitriy Shironosov