Welcome to the exciting world of tech business analysis, where data meets innovation, and insights pave the way to success. In the dynamic realm of technology, where innovation reigns supreme, the role of a business analyst (BA) emerges as a crucial link between technical prowess and business acumen. Employers are constantly on the hunt for that elusive “Analyst Extraordinaire,” and whether you’re looking to shift your tech career or just want to change companies, we’re here to help!
Together with Diana Alt, an executive coach and career growth strategist with 20+ years of experience in corporate product development and business analyst roles, and Freddy Rivera, a tech recruiter, Program Manager, and DEI Programs specialist with 15+ years of experience, we will delve into the minds of employers, examining their perspectives through the lens of recruitment. Together, we’ll look at the key ingredients that make Tech BAs truly exceptional, and exactly how you can land your next job as a business analyst. So, what are you waiting for?
Decoding the role of business analysts
According to Alt, Tech BAs serve as “an important facilitator between user stakeholders and client stakeholders.” Their role is to break down complex concepts into understandable language for implementation, meaning they take the language given by the clients and turn it into technical language for the developers. BAs play a vital role in bridging the gap between technical teams and stakeholders. They provide a link that ensures effective communication, understanding, and alignment between these two groups.
What type of business analyst do you want to be?
When getting started in a career as a business analyst, you need to consider the type of BA role that aligns with your interests, skills, and career aspirations, according to our experts. Once you understand the different paths within the field, you’ll have a much better idea of the type of company you want to work for and the specific role you want to pursue.
Rivera suggests considering whether you envision yourself in a traditional business analyst systems improvement role or if you are more inclined towards a hybrid position that involves business intelligence and heavy data analytics. Additionally, he encourages aspiring BAs to reflect on the level of technical expertise they want to leverage, such as SQL proficiency, which can significantly impact the type of role they pursue. For example, Alt’s personal journey with using SQL in her role left her only focusing on analytical abilities. “I extensively wrote SQL queries and performed data analysis work, but sometimes it took me away from understanding user intent.” For her, she wanted a role with less SQL focus and more user intent.
Alt advises BAs to evaluate the technical expectations of a position and seek an environment where their skill set is appreciated. She adds, “There’s a whole universe of BAs, from practically being a coder to being a tech writer and everything in between. Pick which kind of BA you want to be, learn the skills to be that kind of BA, and then target that kind of role.” Likewise, Rivera advises, “Don’t just apply and interview. Take the time to hash out what kind of career, team, and environment you desire.”
Technical and analytical skills for business analysts
Whether you’ve decided what type of BA you want to be and what industry you want to work in, there are many technical skills that BAs can master to get to the top of the application pile.
Tech BAs can focus on mastering coding skills, including SQL and Excel, according to Rivera. SQL is universally important for BA roles and is relevant across different organizations, from startups to large corporations. Excel is another crucial skill valued no matter the company or industry. Rivera also highlights the importance of visualization software like Tableau, emphasizing that proficiency in one software can be transferable to others.
In addition to these skills, BAs benefit from a solid understanding of key technical concepts, including APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Alt emphasizes the power of grasping APIs, stating, “It’s important for BAs to have a working knowledge of technical concepts like APIs and their inputs, business logic, and outputs.” BAs who understand APIs can effectively bridge the gap between business requirements and technical implementations, ensuring smooth stakeholder collaboration.
While technical knowledge is important, Alt also emphasizes that BAs don’t need to be expert coders, but they do have manual testing knowledge.” They should prioritize analytical skills and understanding the broader goals and needs of stakeholders. This balance allows BAs to effectively translate business requirements into actionable solutions, leveraging their technical knowledge, including SQL and other relevant tools, to support their analytical abilities.
While coding skills can be advantageous, Alt highlights that BAs should focus on analytical skills. “These skills are essential for BAs to unlock insights and make informed decisions. It’s about breaking down complex information, identifying patterns, and understanding the underlying business needs.” BAs with strong analytical abilities possess the power to transform raw data into valuable insights, driving strategic initiatives. One key aspect of analytical skills is the ability to approach problems systematically and think critically. BAs should be adept at asking pertinent questions and gathering relevant information to uncover hidden insights. As Diana suggests, “Analytical skills enable BAs to delve deeper into the data, connect the dots, and discover valuable insights that drive meaningful business outcomes.”
Soft skills for business analysts
Soft skills are equally crucial for tech business analysts as they navigate the complex landscape of requirements gathering, stakeholder management, and communication. Alt emphasizes the significance of several key soft skills that contribute to the success of BAs.
As Alt suggests, curiosity emerges as a crucial soft skill for Tech BAs. She explains, “The ability to ask questions and understand stakeholder needs without judgment is incredibly valuable for a BA.” BAs should possess a natural inclination to explore and seek a deep understanding of requirements. Effective communication skills, active listening, and the ability to ask insightful questions are essential for gathering comprehensive stakeholder information.
Another essential soft skill for BAs is business acumen. It refers to understanding and interpreting business principles, industry dynamics, and organizational goals. Business acumen enables individuals to make informed decisions, align strategies with business objectives, and contribute to the organization’s overall success. Alt advises BAs to collaborate closely with sales and operations teams to gain insights into business operations. She states, “Understanding the intricacies of different departments and staying updated with industry trends can enhance a BA’s ability to align technology solutions with overarching business objectives.”
Being able to communicate effectively is another critical soft skill for BAs. Alt highlights, “As a BA, your role is to act as a facilitator between different stakeholders. Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are crucial for conveying requirements and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.” Active listening is also a vital aspect of effective communication for BAs. This can help you gather comprehensive requirements and foster a collaborative environment where all stakeholders feel heard and valued.
The tech industry is renowned for its fast-paced and ever-evolving nature. BAs must be adaptable and flexible, capable of navigating changing requirements, priorities, and project scopes. They must respond to emerging challenges and pivot when necessary to ensure project success. It’s a handy skill to have considering the fast-paced nature of the tech industry.
Continued education and certifications for business analysts
Continued education and certifications play a valuable role in the professional development of BAs. According to Alt, certifications can be beneficial, especially when they align with the specific role and industry you are targeting.
International Institute of Business Analysis
When it comes to BA certifications, Alt recommends exploring options provided by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). The IIBA offers premier certifications like the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP), along with junior-level certifications for those with less experience. These certifications are well-regarded within the industry and can help demonstrate your proficiency in business analysis.
For BAs working in agile environments, Alt suggests considering certifications related to Kanban or product ownership. Understanding Kanban principles is valuable as BAs often support Scrum Masters or agile team coaches. Alt also emphasizes the significance of product owner training, which provides insights into the role of analysis in an agile environment. Whether through reputable organizations like Scrum Alliance or more cost-effective online platforms like Udemy, acquiring knowledge of product ownership in agile settings is highly relevant.
Scaled Agile ramework
In addition, Alt acknowledges the prevalence of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) in larger organizations, particularly within the Fortune 500. For BAs working in these environments, specific product owner-related training within SAFe can be highly applicable.
Alt also emphasizes the importance of continuous learning beyond certifications. While certifications demonstrate a certain level of expertise, staying informed about industry trends, attending conferences, and participating in webinars can further enhance a BA’s knowledge and professional development. For example, if you work in FinTech, find courses or certificates that better your knowledge in this sector as it will demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and industry knowledge.
Job hunting tips and tricks for business analysts
When it comes to job hunting as a Tech BA, Alt and Rivera provide valuable insights and practical tips to maximize your chances of success:
- Tailor your resume: Customize your resume to highlight your technical skills, project experience, and successful outcomes. Alt advises, “Focus on your technical skills and highlight successful project outcomes to demonstrate your value as a Tech BA.” Rivera also says numbers are important: “Definitely have some numbers, figures, percentages, and even money and time saved.” He insists that those elements will increase your chances of landing an interview.
- Practice common interview questions: Practice scenario-based questions, says Rivera. “Communication, critical thinking, stakeholder management, and trade-offs for BAs are going to be big topics in the interview.” Create stories that weave your soft skills, technical skills, and problem-solving characteristics that highlight your answers.
- Engage in cross-functional networking: Expand your network by participating in industry events, seminars, and conferences. Alt suggests targeting professionals in your geographic area, domain, and role. By joining relevant LinkedIn groups, attending meetups, or getting involved with local chapters such as the IIBA, you can connect with like-minded individuals.
- Be proactive and persistent: Job hunting requires a proactive approach and persistence. Alt encourages candidates to follow up after interviews or networking events, expressing continued interest and enthusiasm. She emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive mindset throughout the process.
- Seek feedback and learn from rejections: Rejections are part of the job-hunting journey. Alt suggests seeking feedback from interviewers or mentors to identify areas for improvement. Learning from each experience helps refine your approach and enhances your chances of success in future opportunities.
Find the best fit for you
As you set out on your quest to become the “Analyst Extraordinaire,” remember that the tech business analysis landscape constantly evolves. Adaptability and continuous learning will be your most valuable weapons. So, embrace the adventure, sharpen your skills, and let your clever wit shine as you navigate the job market. May you find the perfect match where your skills and passions converge, and may your career soar to new heights in the ever-exciting world of tech business analysis. Happy hunting, brave analyst!
Photo: Welcome to the Jungle
More inspiration: Find a job
Leveling up: A guide to escaping the entry-level loop
Stuck in entry-level job after entry-level job? Here's how to break the cycle and land a more senior position.
Sep 19, 2023
“We are afraid. We are exhausted.”: Job hunting as a transgender man in a red state
A transgender man shares his story of finding a job in a conservative state, and tips for other transgender people on the job hunt.
Sep 12, 2023
Back to school and back to the job hunt: Using the September Surge to find a new role
The September Surge is happening—are you ready to join in and find a new job?
Sep 04, 2023
Stuck in a boring job? Here are 7 steps to find a fulfilling role
Ready to leave the monotonous confines of your boring job behind? You're in the right place ...
Aug 22, 2023
Toxic train: How to get back on the job hunt after a toxic manager
Ready to move on (finally!) from your toxic boss? Here's how to get yourself back on the job market and into a healthy role.
Jul 31, 2023
The newsletter that does the job
Want to keep up with the latest articles? Twice a week you can receive stories, jobs, and tips in your inbox.
Looking for your next job opportunity?
Over 200,000 people have found a job with Welcome to the Jungle.Explore jobs