Igor Arkhipov

Job hunting as a business analyst is a tedious and challenging process. It requires a lot of time, effort, consideration, and an outstanding business analyst resume. But if you were to ask me what the most depressing part of it is, my answer would be the situation when you apply for numerous positions through a job board, get excited and… hear nothing back. Then you go to a company’s website, apply again and… nothing again. You go to recruitment agencies, apply through them and… you get the pattern.

person holding phone looking at paper

There are lots of tips and tricks to pass an interview. However, to start applying those, you need to pass the first test — getting selected for a chat. This is where a quality business analyst resume makes a difference. Will you be a sought-after professional, or will you get stuck in limbo?

The market statistics are that 24% of hiring managers spend fewer than 30 seconds looking at resumes before making up their minds. It gets even worse with recruiters, who may spend as little as 7.4 seconds before moving on to another one!

So, what do we need to focus on to stand out? Let’s discuss.

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Hard skills for a business analyst resume

Hard skills refer to the technical abilities you need to do the job. These are the specific skills that you will be expected to demonstrate at work. However, it may be a bit challenging to create a finite list of such skills for a business analyst. One of the reasons is that different businesses define the business analyst position differently. To hone in on the hard skills you need, let’s revisit the definition of the profession:

Business analysis is the practice of enabling change in the context of an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.

— BABOK(r) Guide

The specific skills come secondary to the main goal of the role, which is to enable change. One organization may need a BA to help with software implementation, which requires specific technical skills. Another will need a BA to redesign business processes or write a business case. This will also require a relatively narrow set of skills.

Conduct research into the company you are applying to

To begin your research, you can use these questions as a starting point:

Once you have a clear picture of the role you’re applying for, check that your resume matches it. Make sure you know about the key skills and technology platforms they are asking for in the job description — you’ll need them. It may surprise you that a lot of companies are using automatic resume scanning systems to filter out the submissions that don’t match the job keywords. In fact, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use a system like this. So, do your research and make sure to include the relevant keywords in the body of your resume.

However, don’t try to over-promise with a wall of buzzwords

Including irrelevant technology stacks and methodologies does not present you as a more versatile professional. On the contrary, it leaves an image of a jack-of-all-trades who failed to specialize, or, even worse, of someone who has included all the buzzwords just to pass a scan. This will not play in your favor.

Make sure your resume tells the story of someone who has the right skills and knows how to apply them. Once you know what the ask is, it may be a good idea to introduce a section with key skills. But this is not enough; make sure you also refer back to them when talking about your experience. For example, if you want to showcase your Agile experience as well as display your knowledge of a particular technology platform, and talk about your business process skills, you could list them in the key skills section:

Key skills:
– Agile delivery, Scrum 
– Adobe Experience Cloud including Adobe AEM, Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target
– Business process modeling

You can also expand on them in the work experience section:

Job title — Workplace
Delivered multiple complex CMS projects based on Adobe Experience Cloud tech stack in an Agile environment. As a business analyst on the project, I took full responsibility for:
– Modeling business processes 
– Identifying opportunities for improvement
– Scoping business process optimisation initiatives

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Soft skills

Soft skills, or “human skills” as they are often referred to today, are another important part of your professional profile. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 report, 92% of job recruiters perceive soft skills as equally or more important than hard skills.

The problem is, everybody has “stakeholder management,” “leadership,” and “communication skills” on their resume. The question is, how do you stand out?

Soft skills are hard to measure but easy to demonstrate

Describe your experience, add details on how using a particular human skill helped you achieve a certain result. The potential employer will likely assess your soft skills by asking scenario-based or problem-solving questions. Pre-empt this in your resume. For example, it may not be effective to simply say,

“Developed requirements for a CRM solution,”

Instead, you can say,

“Facilitated a 15-person workshop to get stakeholders aligned on a set of requirements for a CRM solution.”

Of course, you only want to include it if you have actually done it — which brings us to the next important aspect.

Be prepared to support your claims

For any achievement or skill you put on your CV, be prepared to answer a question about it. With soft skills, always have a story ready to illustrate what the situation was, how you addressed it, and your results.

Make your resume the presentation of your soft skills

 Everybody can claim they possess the ability to communicate clearly. Not everybody can actually do it. An easy-to-read and well-structured resume is your chance to tell a potential employer that your documentation will be outstanding. Don’t miss this opportunity to shine and follow the format and layout recommendations below.

Resume format and layout

No one likes cluttered documents. They are hard to follow, misleading, and generally not pleasant to work with. This is not the impression you want to leave.

That is why your resume should be very logically structured. Use short precise sentences and avoid complex grammatical constructs. Make sure you’ve got your headers sorted so it is easy to skim through the CV quickly and figure out the key information: job titles, organizations, relevant skills, and key achievements.

Don’t overwhelm the reader with a wall of text. Try to distill the main messaging and arrange it in bullet points or lists — just don’t make them too long. 3–5 points per list are more than enough. Compare these two layouts:

Visual comparison of Resume Do’s and Don’ts

A wall of text presentation vs. a bullet points presentation. The better choice is obvious.

The layout to the left would fail the skimming test. The layout to the right is easily scanned with a quick glance and will likely receive more consideration.

This is relevant to all types of resumes. But for you as a business analyst, it is twice as important. At the end of the day, documentation skills are expected of you, so your resume becomes your first opportunity to showcase them!

A quick summary will make it even better

 If your relevant work experience is hidden within individual position descriptions, it may easily get missed. That is why a short career summary is important. This is where you can present your skills and expertise in a way tailored to the job you are applying for and explain why you might be the best candidate. A nice quick summary may serve as a substitute for the cover letter or as a short version of it.

Focus on the relevant skills only and make it short and punchy. List your main strengths and areas of expertise, add a reference to key projects/clients you have worked with, and explain how this will help you solve problems for the hiring organization.

Essentially, you need to convince the reader that you are the right person for the job — you’ve got the skills and the attitude needed to deliver.

You can use the following template:

Career summary
A seasoned business analyst with [INSERT] years of experience, I have worked with [TYPES OF BUSINESSES]. 

Most recently being exposed to a [TECHNOLOGY] implementation project for a [ORGANIZATION], I have hands-on experience with [SKILL 1], [SKILL 2], [SKILL 3].

I believe these skills will become crucial for [HIRING ORGANIZATION] to achieve [STATED ROLE PURPOSE FROM JOB DESCRIPTION].

I am excited to apply for this opportunity because I [SHARE YOUR VALUES].Please find my full CV enclosed with this application.

Just replace the placeholders with your words, and you’ve got it sorted. 

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Education and certifications

People enter the business analysis field with many different educational and professional backgrounds. Still, all of them are expected to have a thorough understanding of business analysis and to possess sound hard skills. Even though a formal degree is not a must to become a BA, it can be an asset in the eyes of a potential employer. If you have a relevant degree, you should include it in your CV.

If you don’t have a degree, a relevant professional certification can serve as a substitute

 There are a few types of certifications that are valuable for a business analyst resume:

  1. Core business analysis certifications such as the ones offered by the IIBA. You need to have some work experience and will have to get familiar with the standard to pass it. Online training courses make preparation much easier.
  2. Certifications that show your ability to apply business analysis in a particular context, such as Agile. You can decide to focus on pure agile skills, e.g., with the help of online courses.
    Or you can pursue a specialized Business Analysis in Agile path, e.g., with an Agile Analysis Certification. It is one of the most sought for certifications, and you can also study for it online.
  3. Certifications and professional badges in a specific technology. Sometimes you know which technology you are going to work with. And sometimes, you just happen to get specialized in a certain piece of tech. In any case, I always recommend checking if the vendor offers any formal ways of recognition. This way, it will be easier for you to prove you’ve worked with it and have achieved a certain level of mastery.

Let’s put it all together

To build an epic business analyst resume, you need to do the following:

  1. Select a clear and easy-to-read layout and stick with it.
  2. Summarize your key skills, experience, and motivations in a summary section. Make it personal and tailor it to any job application you submit.
  3. List your key skills and competencies. Scan the job description for key skills and pieces of tech they ask for and make sure to include those.
  4. Reiterate your skills in the work experience section.
  5. Pursue relevant certifications and add them to your CV.

Now you are ready to apply for that job! Get ready to prepare for your business analyst interview today!

Page Last Updated: December 2021