Changing career or gaining that first foothold in a new profession will always be a swim against the tide. Going against the conventional flow of career development may be hard but it is potentially a very rewarding path.
There is no simple answer to the question of how to switch careers or gain a starter role in a new profession. That said, there are some common factors that are worth considering and many of these were voiced on a recent webinar on BA careers. Each of the factors are valuable in their own right but also can and should be considered in combination.
- Start with the end in mind. Setting firm objectives is the best starting point for any significant change. Visualising your goals allows your subconscious to play a part in seeking out new opportunities. It’s surprising when you picture your next new car how often you will see that make, model and colour appear on the road; the same thought process applies when seeking new opportunities.
- Treat your move as a project. Plan your change by thinking through the available options and the actions to be taken to achieve them. The plan or path to be taken will inevitably change along the way but starting without a plan usually results in a failure to achieve the goals. And, Plan A can always morph into Plan B.
- Complete a skills audit. Your current and previous roles may have required you to gain many transferable skills and you may be able to describe them using BA terminology. As an example, being able to manage situations with difficult customers means that you have stakeholder engagement skills – which are most valuable for a BA.
- Be persistent and tenacious. If opportunities are hard to come by all the more reason to maximise your chances on those that do come available. Be prepared to attend evening events (https://www.iibauk.org/events) to make new contacts and chase the people who are hiring by mail and phone. It’s often a thankless task but fortune really does favour the brave.
- The internal transfer. If already working for a larger organisation, there may be opportunities to make an internal transfer. Many organisations like the idea of cross-training colleagues who already have many of the necessary personal skills and organisational knowledge. There are often opportunities within organisations to meet professionals from other disciplines so look out for social and work events where there will be BAs in attendance. BA community meetings, such as lunch and learn sessions, often welcome anyone wishing to attend. Alternatively, you could volunteer to be the point of contact within your department for the next project that involves liaison with the BA team.
- Be prepared to step across or back to gain the experience you need. To reach the end goal you may need to make a series of moves that require stepping backwards or sideways to gain relevant experience. While there will be practical considerations around grade and earnings, this can be a short term sacrifice for longer term gain.
- Consider professional training and certification. This is in no way a pre-requisite or golden ticket to a new role but it does have a real value in terms of establishing your professional toolkit and demonstrates to employers how serious you are about taking on a new role.
- Read and learn. Formal training can offer a useful shortcut to learning about a new role but there is also a large amount of free learning resources available. If used with thought and reflection, these resources can be used to supplement or reduce a training need.
- Apprenticeship programmes. Anyone can consider undertaking an apprenticeship programme as long as the learning they achieve is new to them; there are no age barriers. Apprenticeships offer a formal entry point to the BA profession and are available across England (unfortunately, not Wales or Scotland at the moment). Search and apply for apprenticeships here: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch?_ga=2.119021197.547856128.1570780354-2043865114.1557867026
All in all, there are a lot of actions you can take – the determined individual will always find a way to be a BA!