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Author: Morgan Culverhouse

Taking the Helm: Navigating The Job Search Ocean

Recent circumstances led me to get into the dark murky waters of a job hunt.  Being that I was in my last position for 17 years with over 10 of those years being a Business Analyst, I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to navigate the seas of an employment search.  After all, there’s a job title field in nearly every employment search engine where I can enter “Business Analyst” in the text box, right? 

Little did I know about the obstacles before me that would make the job hunt seas very choppy and rough.

One big obstacle is caused by the very broad definition of “What does a Business Analyst do” which can lead to some very interesting complication. 

Following are several examples of job postings during my cruise on the employment seas:

Looking for a Business Analyst but needing a Project Manager

In more than one instance, I came across positions in my searches that were titled as a Business Analyst position but in reading through the job requirements section on the ad, the company would specify typical Project Manager related tasks.  In fact, I also saw postings requiring the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.  This is not to say that a Business Analyst does not sometimes have to function as a Project Manager, but it might be better to have a Project Manager in certain positions.

Looking for a Project Manager but needing a Business Analyst

Conversely, I came across postings in my search titled as a Project Manager position but in reading the requirements it appeared they needed a Business Analyst instead.  Again, not to say that a Project Manager can’t execute the Business Analysis function, but it would help to title the posting correctly. 

Looking for a Business Analyst but needing a domain specific analyst

Next there are the job postings where the title reads as “Business Analyst” but the descriptions is calling for someone with domain specific skills such as PeopleSoft or ERP systems.  This just adds to the amount of postings that have to be waded through to see if you could be a fit for the position.

Looking for a Business Analyst but needing a Systems Analyst

Another one of the fun posting types to come across are the ones titled as a Business Analyst but what they really are specifying in the requirements is a more specialized analyst such as a Systems Analyst or Business Systems Analyst or even IT Business Analyst title.  Business Analysts can wear many hats but what does the employer actually need?

Related Article: Business Analysis is not a 9 to 5 Job

Looking for a Business Analyst but needing someone to work in Operations

One of the last items I’ll point out are postings looking for a Business Analyst but upon reading the description the company is actually looking for someone to work in Operations either fielding customer calls or entering data into a database.  This is a useful and needed individual in the organization, but the title of Business Analyst for the position can be misleading to job seekers.

So what leads to these issues with the postings?  There seem to be several issues:

  1. Employers might not understand what they need;
  2. Employers might not know the proper title for their given position;
  3. The Business Analyst title allows us to branch off into many specialties leading to some of the varied misclassifications. 

In the end, these are some helpful hints to keep in mind if you find yourself in the deep voyage of seeking employment:

  • You need to read the posting and not just the title – when I first started I only looked at “Business Analyst” titles but I found some hidden treasures in the text of postings that swayed me one way or the other.  You’ll never find that hidden gem if you base your job search on title alone;
  • Understand your own capabilities – know what it is that you can bring to an employer;
  • Understand your own limitations – You’re most likely going to get asked in an interview about your limitations, so it’s best to get to know them now;
  • Create and practice a couple versions of a personal “pitch” – you’ll want a short elevator pitch as well as one a bit longer;
  • Utilize your networks as much as possible.

Above all, enjoy your cruise.