What are the job titles between job A and career B?
January 21, 2010 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I want to go from Data Entry Clerk / Executive Assistant to Business Analyst or Technical Writer. Please help suggest some job titles I can use in interviews or search for online.

Can you help me think of some job titles I can use to say "Right now I'm looking for temp work as a data entry clerk / secretary, but in six months time I hope to have a full time job as an XX." Or, "I'm only interested in full time job opportunities if they are XX or on the road towards XX"?

This question is mostly about what job titles are out there that I can use to signal my career intentions, but I'll give you some more detail just in case it will help.

I'm 26 and I have about 3 years experience temping as a data entry clerk, EA, admin assistant, and receptionist. This has been a great way to make money as I've done other things with my early 20s, plus I've gained a lot of valuable general workplace knowledge - I'm a much more mature worker than when I first started. I'm finally at a time in my life, however, where I can stay in the same city for over a year, so I'm looking to move ahead with my career and do something more interesting and with more responsibility.

All of my previous temp roles (lasting from a couple of weeks to a few months) have quickly developed past their initial job descriptions and I've been given project management duties, technical writing duties, and business analyst duties. I have really enjoyed these and would really like to have a job that has less of the answering phones/stapling and a little more of the thinking and analysing and writing. I am also confident that I can do these roles and that I might even somewhat enjoy it.

I'm not exactly sure what job titles I should say I'm looking for. Obvious ones are "business analyst" and "technical writer", but it seems to be quite difficult to get these jobs if all one's previous titles have been "executive assistant" and "secretary". I am more than willing to use my current experience and get a "compromise" job: I will answer some phones and do filing and mindless data entry and copying, but I would also like to have the opportunity to think and manage my own time somewhat. Bonus points if this job doesn't have the title of "Secretary" or the like.

Many of my previous temp employers have offered to hire me full time for roles above that which I was brought in for, but I've unfortunately never been in the position to take a full time position before. Of course, now that I'm in a permanent place for a bit, I'm continuing to take these temp roles with the hope that I might run into a company wanting to hire me, but I don't want to rely on that solely.

Mostly, I want to be able to speak the lingo and signal to potential employers and especially recruitment agencies what type of work I'm eventually after. I don't have one specific career path in mind and have no special qualifications (other than a BA in English and a minor in math and three years of office drudge experience).

What job titles or code words can I use to say that I don't mind admin work, just want to have more responsibility and a different title?
posted by neznamy to Work & Money (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I was able to transition from "secretary land" to being a business analyst, but I did it in-house. If you're working with a temp agency, you can say all of these things verbally to your recruiter, and perhaps they can help you tweak your resume. To convey this to someone you are NOT speaking to, meaning in a cover letter or via resume, I might try the following:

1. Most people advocate doing away with the "Objective" statement on a resume these days, but in your case it might be warranted. You can identify yourself as you see fit in this area. For instance, "Business Analyst seeks challenging position with a financial services firm...yada yada" kind of thing.

2. When listing previous positions, I might omit your title entirely... Start with the company, the dates, then bullet point the duties you had, starting with the ones you want to continue doing (analysis, writing), and putting the more secretarial-type duties at the bottom (perhaps even in a catch-all). Potential employers don't need to know from just your resume that you were hired as a secretary, though be honest if asked in an interview. You can turn it into an achievement that you were promoted out of that role very quickly.

3. My last resume (it's been awhile since I job hunted) started with a long bullet list of my qualifications and achievements, then had a short section on previous work experience, then a skills section where I was able to list all the software I had experience with, etc.

I wouldn't tell people that "Right now I'm looking for temp work as a data entry clerk / secretary, but in six months time I hope to have a full time job as an XX." Rather, I would word this as "I'm looking for full time work as an XX, but will settle for something lesser temporarily if necessary."

I also recommend using the title Business Analyst more so than Technical Writer. At the company where I transitioned, I had the option to go either direction. A few months after I was promoted, all tech writers were laid off. I was very glad I chose BA instead! I see a lot more BA positions advertised over tech writing. There is so much in-house development that goes on in companies that don't really require a good tech writer (meaning someone who can produce documents meant for an outside customer's consumption). When the software is used mostly in-house, very little documentation is produced, but the same software still requires business analysis.

I hope this helps!!
posted by wwartorff at 6:50 PM on January 21, 2010

Also, get the book Mastering the Requirements Process. Complete Systems Analysis by the same author is also very good. Learn UML. Knowing something about database design can also be very helpful.
posted by wwartorff at 6:55 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: A job that involves aspects of business analyst and technical writer is Quality Assurance Tech. It requires less experience and technical background than an analyst job so it might be an easier resume jump. It is also not a bad way to wedge an opening into one of the higher tech jobs eventually.
posted by Babblesort at 6:58 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: This will vary a lot from industry to industry and even company to company, but job titles that I would associate with an entry-level project management position that also involved some admin drudgery would be "project associate", "project management associate" and "project coordinator".
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:02 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Join the IIBA and look into their certification process. Having this on your resume will help keep it from being tossed in the secretary pile.

If you get an interview, talk about your love for the big picture, and how your work experience to date has made you aware of the gap between concept and execution, and how much you like to explain technical things to businesspeople and vice versa. Engage with your interviewer, and make eye contact with everyone. When they ask if you have any questions, have some.
posted by Sallyfur at 5:07 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Junior Business Analyst
System Analyst

Get into Quality Assurance, that seems to be how most of the BA's I've met made the transition.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:07 AM on January 22, 2010

Best answer: All of my previous temp roles (lasting from a couple of weeks to a few months) have quickly developed past their initial job descriptions and I've been given project management duties, technical writing duties, and business analyst duties.

Poof! Your previous job titles are now "project manager," "technical writer," and "business analyst." Update your resume.
posted by bingo at 9:40 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all - this is exactly what I needed. I've now started searching for roles labeled as "project coordinator/associate" and those are pretty much exactly the sort of jobs I had been thinking of but couldn't find. This will be very helpful in my upcoming interviews with recruitment agencies - agencies where I am are much less career mentors and don't want to help you with your cv or talk through your goals with you - they want you to have that figured out already.

I've marked pretty much everyone as best answer, because you've all given me some really good advice and things to think about, so thank you!
posted by neznamy at 6:14 PM on January 23, 2010

Awesome. I hope you'll let us know when you land something.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:13 AM on January 24, 2010

« Older AT&T has finally beaten me down.   |   Customs and Immigration in Canada Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.