Making your Cover Letter work for your next BA role

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Looking for a new Business Analyst job or a new Business Analyst role is not a particularly exciting activity. It is even less exciting when you are transitioning from a university or a different career into a field like Business Analysis. However, the flip side of this is that when you do land that new Business Analyst job, you’ll be on your way to an exciting new career, more personal growth and fulfillment and hopefully a lot more income too. Whether you are a seasoned Business Analyst looking for a new and exciting position, or you have a newly minted Business Analysis education or certification, you will need a lot of focus and preparation to get yourself the job and salary you want. The key is to give the right impression, shine the spotlight on your Business Analyst skills and convince the recruiters and employers that you are the right person for the job.

The covering letter you include with your resume is the first thing about you that will be read, noticed and analysed by potential recruiters, employers and hiring managers.

Some job seekers assume that their job search starts with their resume or the Business Analyst job interview. Boy, they could not be more wrong! The process of actively soliciting a Business Analyst job actually starts with the covering letter and here is why:

Before you are scheduled for an interview or have your resume read by a hiring manager, the cover letter attached to your resume has to be read first. Whether you send in your resume by email, fax or snail mail, you have to include a covering letter with your job solicitation or application. Human Resource Departments receive a good number of resumes for any Business Analyst job position that they post and because of the sheer volume of resumes received (sometimes all documenting similar experience and tasks), they will seek to review your covering letter first and only proceed to read the rest of your resume if your covering letter draws them in. This is exactly the reason why you must prepare a really good covering letter for your next Business Analyst job search.

The way hiring managers or staffing firms handle Business Analyst job seekers is similar to the way you search for information on the internet. Typically when you search for information on the internet, you end your information search as soon as you find a high quality site that provides all the answers you are looking for. You will probably quickly narrow your focus to a few websites out of the several websites listed on the search results page. Now, picture a potential employer sifting through a pile of resumes in their inbox or mail folder. They will quickly also select few resumes out of the pile of resumes available based on the covering letter attached to the resume.

Using a covering letter presents you with an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other candidates who may have similar Business Analyst training and education. If you have no previous experience, your covering letter is your chance to give the manager a good reason to consider you for the job. In your covering letter, you can focus on your most attractive qualities that would otherwise have been lost in the many points on your resume. Your covering letter is your chance to maximize that favourable first impression, and each application you make should have a corresponding covering letter calling out the important points that showcases how you are a perfect fit for the advertised role. So, do not make the mistake of neglecting your covering letter or focusing all your attention on your resume alone, you need to give both the attention they deserve, especially your covering letter, which is like your personal sales pitch.

When writing your covering letter, closely examine the job description for the Business Analyst position that you are applying for. Note the Business Analyst skills that are required for the job, including the roles and responsibilities that have been specified. Compare your training and past Business Analysis experience with the skills that the job requires. You will need to highlight every area to show how you are a perfect fit for the job in the body of your letter.
Do not include roles or skills that have not been specified in the job description; if the job does not call for Joint Application Development (JAD) skills, do not waste space by mentioning the fact that you have spent the last three years facilitating JAD sessions. Irrelevant facts will only distract the manager or recruiter from the reasons why you are great for the job.

In your introduction you could mention the name of the person who referred you to the company, or any connections you have to the company. You can also mention how you became interested in the Business Analysis field. It may not do any harm to also mention any formal experiences you may have in eliciting Business Requirements (a key skill required for the role), your successes and your passion for being a Business Analyst. Then get into some of your previous Business Analyst projects and the results of the projects. Continue on by highlighting the Business Analyst skills you have mastered and the experiences you have garnered that makes you the best choice for the position. Accentuate how those learned skills will help the company to deliver a high quality project as well as realise any project related benefits.

How do you get noticed from a covering letter? The answer is getting the hiring manager’s attention right from the beginning of your covering letter. The introduction of your covering letter should focus on grabbing the attention of the reader and keeping them interested until the very end.

When writing your covering letter stay close to the straight and narrow path in formatting the letter. Use normal business conventions in the opening paragraph, when addressing the position, and in the closing paragraph of your letter. This will also apply to covering letters that you send by email or when applying directly via job boards. Be courteous and business-like; formality will not take away from you if you have something interesting to say. Keep the letter short by being focused and getting straight to the point. The entire letter should not be more than four paragraphs. Avoid starting out with “to whom it may concern.” If possible, you should try to get the name of the person to address your letter to. Do not use slangs, cute phrases, emoticons or graphics. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. Use a spell-checker and if possible, get a friend or mentor to proof-read the letter before you send it out.

Finally, remember that your covering letter can be an excellent tool to help you get the right Business Analyst job. It is an opportunity to connect with and capture the recruiter(s) attention, tell your professional story and stand out from the crowd. It will take hard work to create the right letter, but it will all be worth it in the end.

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