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How to get a business intelligence job

Get expert advice for landing a business intelligence job from an experienced BI recruiter. Learn how to create a compelling resume, and get BI job search advice.

There's good news for business intelligence (BI) professionals: Even in a soft economy, the demand for BI is strong.

Market activity over the last couple of years, specifically large enterprise technology firms acquiring BI software vendors -- IBM bought Cognos, SAP acquired Business Objects and OutlookSoft, and Oracle acquired Hyperion -- tells me that organizations are continuing to look at BI on an enterprise level to harness their data and information to be more competitive, efficient and in touch with customers.

There are BI jobs out there. Right now, healthcare and energy are industries that are doing very well. However, the market can change over time, so being aware of the current economy will give you an idea of who is hiring.

So let's focus on the best way to land a new job.

Create a marketable business intelligence professional resume

The first step to landing your next BI position is to focus on your resume. It is the employer's first impression of you. Don't just add information to your old resume -- really take a hard look at where you are today with your career and what you want to do in your next role. Then build a new resume that focuses on core strengths and accomplishments, and make sure you highlight the skills and responsibilities you are looking to leverage. It is also a good idea to create a cover letter specific to the position you are applying for and highlight your skills that directly correlate to the position description.

When outlining your experience, you should always describe what you have done in the last five years in greater detail than what you did 10 years ago. Incorporate the BI tools and technologies you have experience with, because recruiters typically do searches based on the core technologies they are looking for (Informatica, Datastage, Ab Initio, Business Objects, Cognos, SAP BI, etc.).

A resume won't get you a job, but it can eliminate you from one. When faced with a large number of resumes, many recruiters look for reasons to eliminate candidates rather than reasons to interview them. A resume that has grammatical errors or tense changes will find itself in the "not qualified" pile. Also, keep resumes to fewer than four pages. One- to two-page resumes are ideal. I have a hiring manager who won't look at a resume that's more than two pages.

Determine your own business intelligence job criteria

Before applying for any position, develop your job criteria. Which job attributes are most important to you? Attributes such as industry, company size, location, company culture, job responsibility, travel, career path, compensation and benefits are all typical criteria to consider. When searching for a job, remember the attributes that you defined as most important and seek out positions that match them.

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Be realistic in your search. If you are an Informatica developer, don't apply for a position as a Business Objects architect. Today, a company is going to hire you for your current skill set. The typical positions within BI include ETL, reporting, architects, data modeling, project management, business analyst and management. There can be various levels of expertise within each title as well, so understand where you fit and read the job description carefully. Sending your information to positions you are not even close to qualifying for is just a waste of everyone's time.

Start the business intelligence job search

Once your resume is complete and you have defined your criteria, it is time to begin the job search. This step begins with who you know -- always try to use your current network. Leverage relationships with colleagues inside and outside your current organization. The BI community tends to be close-knit, and your colleagues are best aware of your skills and experience. Also, reach out to recruiters you trust and who focus on the BI market, because recruiters often have access to positions that may not be posted on the Internet job boards. Also, a huge benefit of working with a recruiter is that your resume will get to the hiring manager directly.

Of course you will also want to look online at the major job boards -- Dice, Monster, CareerBuilder and Hotjobs -- but don't overlook sites that are focused on business intelligence topics., DM Review, icrunchdata, b-eye-network, and others all have BI jobs posted. If you see a position you are interested in, check your current network to determine whether you know anyone in that company. If so, reach out and ask them to put in a recommendation for you. An employee referral goes right to the top of the interview list with most companies.

When interviewing with a company, make sure you do the research and understand the position before talking about your background. With the information available on the Internet you should be able to have a solid understanding of what the company does. If a recruiter calls you directly about a position, try to have them talk about the company and the position first and then determine whether it is something that interests you. If you're interested, make sure to talk about your experience that lines up to the job description.

My final words of advice are to take your job search seriously. Your job is where you spend 40+ hours a week, not including your commuting time. Your position builds a foundation for your BI career and future, so invest the time and energy necessary to build a strong resume, do your research, and develop the criteria you are looking for in a new job. The payoff will be an exciting new position that will help build your BI career.

Read Part 2 of this two-part series about business intelligence jobs: Five keys to hiring (good) business intelligence professionals

About the author: Matt Mueller, president of CBIG Recruiting & Staffing, has more than 14 years of national IT recruiting experience. Since 2000, his focus has been on the data warehousing, business intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM) disciplines. Matt has worked with Deloitte Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Headstrong, Knightsbridge, Hewlett-Packard and other leading companies. He is dedicated to finding the right opportunity for the professionals he works with and finding the right professional for his clients.

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