Saturday, May 5, 2012
In a bit of a departure from the normal comments on the philosophy and essence of business analysis, I thought I would respond to a number of requests I have gotten recently about how to get a job as a business analyst. Mostly the requests have centered around resumes and what they should contain. Now I am not an expert, but I have been around a long time and I have written many resumes for myself and others (when bidding on consulting work years ago). I have also read hundreds of resumes for the purpose of hiring. So what I have to say is based on that experience and nothing more. Basically when you write a resume it has to sell you. It is a sales document, and you are the item for sale. Each point on the resume should answer the question: why should I hire this person. The sales begins with the Summary which all the experts tell you to place at the top of the resume. The concept of the Summary is to make it easy for the resume reviewer to grasp who you are and make a decision without having to ready the rest of the resume. So in the Summary you want to make statements that grab the reviewer’s attention right away. Don’t just list the companies you have worked with. Make statements about why you are special. These are called “discriminators” and state what makes you different from everyone else. For example. While I don’t send my resume out much anymore, I do keep it current and the Summary references the fact that I have written a book on business analysis among other accomplishments. The idea is to get the reviewer interested enough to read the full resume. After the Summary, state any other important pieces of information about you, for example, degrees, professional certifications, other education and training, and the like should be first. Tie the Summary to this list, for example, if you got an award, state the reason for the reward in the Summary. If I put these items at the end of your resume, the reviewer might never get there. The rest or your resume which states your experience is not simply a laundry list of what you have done in your work life in chronological order. The most important things you have done for your previous employers and the highlights of your career should be first, regardless of when in your life they occurred. This means for the typical job applicant that the first items might well be the most current because we keep getting better and doing better things as we get older and wiser and gain experience and responsibility. In addition the most current accomplishments and activities are probably those most pertinent to the position you want. I don’t see any reason for including dates or even company names in this section. Just a sentence or two about each accomplishment. I managed a project which replaced the company’s insurance processing software bringing the project in under budget and ahead of schedule saving the company $250000 a year. While investigating the inventory control process at a large manufacturing company I devised a new method for increasing the speed of inventory turn and reducing waste. The method was adopted by all the manufacturing centers in the global organization. I managed a 3.5 million dollar program for a US Federal Agency, managing 105 direct reports over a four year period. And so forth The list of positions you have can be listed with the company name (if you wish) in reverse chronological order after you have told them what you have done and what you can do. That is what is interesting and appealing to a resume reviewer, not what company you have worked for. The reviewer can relate the company names to the accomplishments, and if not they may be interested enough to call you in for an interview. If that happens your resume was successful. The purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. Write the resume as though the reader won't get past the first paragraph, so you have to grab his or her attention right away. Tell them why they should read further. Tell them why they should be interest in your rather than anyone else. Make them wonder what else you can do. Make them start asking themselves questions about you and they will want you in for an interview. Remember, a resume alone never got anyone hired, but it is necessary to get you in for the interview. And getting you to the interview is the purpose of the resume.