A question I often get asked by recruitment candidates how describe themselves when they feel they are “a jack of all trades”. I was recently working with a client on their CV and asked them how they would describe themselves and was faced with a 5 minute dialogue. I pointed out that if he didn’t know, then how would a recruiter or hiring manager figure it out? The person in question is very much a team manager, contract manager and operations/projects manager. So when we drilled down to what the day to day role actually included it became clear that first and foremost he was actually head of operations and programme manager, he has significant exposure to contract management and leading large teams of circa 200 people. So when it came down to describing him on his CV we took this lead and placed him in a recruitment pigeon hole – unfortunately it is pigeon holing, but as much as we do not like being labelled it is important to define yourself clearly so others can understand what you do. If a reviewer cannot understand what it is you do in the first statement they will reject your CV, it is as simple (and harsh) as that.
Therefore when you are writing your profile on your CV you must think about this and categorise yourself, you can talk about demonstrable exposure and experience too but you must make that decision as to where your skill-set belongs. I don’t know too many project professionals who don’t have some exposure to Business Analysis or PMOs and equally, established PMs will have often delivered programmes of work and it is these blends of skills which are greatly appreciated in the business world. After all, how often have these additional skills and exposure come in handy for non-related assignments? Employers see it as having more for their money, but you do need to decipher the initial quandary for them – realistically, what is your job title? What is it you actually do?
I have seen some getting around this by having various versions of CVs, each tailored to one element of the skills and experience which can work too – the only issue I see arising from this is having multiple copies of your CV online and registered with agencies may raise questions, again about how you define yourself.
Business Analysis is an integral role within organisations – often the role is merged with a project management roles which will see a great deal of PMs and BAs taking on a dual role, as with other areas such as change management it has become an profession which reduced budgets have forced over the years. However a Business Analyst is very much a numbers and facts role first and foremost, investigating both systems and processes. Other important areas for a successful BA are listening and negotiation skills, as such the CV needs to take a holistic view of all these skills and demonstrate this detail. This is where the CV differs to other project management CVs, when putting together the CV you must strike a balance of methods, types of assignments, user groups, and communication plans.
- Profile – the profile as with all CVs should be a short statement which highlights what it is you actually do and where your skill-set lays. Talking through (briefly) the types of assignments such as industry and core systems / processes / task in hand.
- Achievements – Addressing achievements is something I note a lot of BAs negate from their CVs, however this is an area where you can really add some value and set yourself apart from your competitors.
- Career History – Here is the important part, make sure you give enough detail about what you have been tasked to interrogate. Give some context in relation to the size of user groups, methods adopted, benefits, challenges and how you work (what did the role actually involve you doing).
As a Business Analyst you will look at centralising services to improve working environment efficiency, address duplication of processes and develop 3rd party supplier relationships – so talk about it!!
BAs are visionaries and need to think outside the box, you will be on top of up-to-date processes and systems and as such will be called upon to recommend fit-for-purpose solutions which keep an organisation ahead of their competitors – give some examples!!
Because there are always elements of project management in these roles, you should also talk through these – the more adaptable you are, the greater value you add to a team (and often reduced budget). It has become increasingly difficult for everyone under the project management umbrella to secure interviews due to tighter requirements and strong competition, unfortunately reputation does little for applications if you don’t have a good CV to back up the experience. The best CVs win every time for shortlists, not necessarily the best candidates – so invest time into your CV and ensure it reaches the top of the recruitment pile.