Newly certified SM looking for a job, not getting a lot of responses.

Last post 10:05 am July 16, 2019
by Stephen Sykes
9 replies
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04:06 pm June 25, 2019

So, I thought I would try a new cover letter. Here is my template tell me what you think. Any help would be appreciated. 

 

I am writing to express my interest in the position of Scrum Master. My 20 years of IT experience motivating scrum teams to perform their best work and my comprehensive understanding of agile software development make me a great fit for your organization. I have more than 20 years of IT experience including meeting facilitation and collaboration as a Business Analyst and Incident Manager which will allow me to lead your team of talented product developers in their Agile development.

 

Strengths:

Certified Scrum Master.

20 years of IT experience, 5 as a business analyst

Knowledgeable in IT development frameworks.

Excellent motivator.

Great fundamental understanding of business principles.

Excellent communicator.

Goal oriented.

Highly- organized; conducts effective scrum sessions.

07:54 pm June 25, 2019

Not sure where you live but my experience in the US is that new Scrum Master have a really hard time getting jobs. I have only recently added Agile Coach to my long list of titles because my current company decided to pursue a more disciplined approach to agile software development. I have 33 years of experience beginning my Senior year of College. But applying for jobs as Scrum Master or Agile Coach has earned me a lot of "you don't have enough experience" even if, like you, I have been doing agile practices for over 20 years. I started using Lean and XP practices even before the Agile Manifesto for Software Development was written. 

Another of my obstacles has been salary.  Since I have been involved in the industry for 33 years and a lot of that as a QA Manager, my salary has climbed up.  I am finding myself above the salary ranges for Scrum Masters. A lot of companies want really experience individuals but want to pay at the same ranges used as upper limits for new software developers.  

My only advice is to be persistent.  Don't stop applying because one of them will pan out.  

08:42 pm June 25, 2019

To echo Daniel's experiences, I have been rejected by dozens of companies in my pursuit of Scrum Master opportunities.   It is certainly not an easy career path, but I would not change it for any other career.

Just a couple suggestions regarding your cover letter:

  • Unsure if you want to highlight that you have 20 years motivating Scrum teams.   Is that truly accurate?
  • Unsure if you want to identify yourself as a great Scrum Master candidate by highlighting your ability to facilitate meetings, and your experience as a Business Analyst and Incident Manager

My suggestion is to look at the 8 stances of the Scrum Master role (https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/8-stances-scrum-master), and try to cater your cover letter and resume in support of this.

09:58 am June 26, 2019

Also, I heard that motivation letter should closely address the job requirements, but if you posted it here then we would sort of have a discussion not really fit for this forum :/

11:16 am June 26, 2019

I have had a lot of rejections from recruiters who say I don't have enough experience, but then also say problematic things in the job description like "the scrum manager will be expected to *enforce* commitments in the team" which is very frustrating.

I can only tell you what I've been told, which is to simply keep applying, because you must have absolutely exhaustive transferable and applicable skills! Furthermore, when it comes to a cover letter, this is direct communication with someone you haven't met, and therefore involves a lot of subjectivity, which is hit-and-miss. Again, I can't really advise you anything more specific except that it's a numbers game, but something will come up!

As regards @Daniel's points, another alternative would be applying for roles in larger organisations (such as banks) that haven't yet adopted scrum because (a) their salaries might be more in the appropriate range and (b) they will value your experience as a 'safe pair of hands'.

02:23 pm July 2, 2019

Michael, you've already received lots of great tips. I'm going to add a few lines myself, hope these help.

 

First of all, Scrum Masters are (supposed to be) servant leaders. How would you phrase your servant-leadership if someone were to ask you F2F or during a phone call?

Second, I'm of opinion cover letters mean almost nothing nowadays. Rather than spending time on these, I'd reach out to people via LinkedIn, live events, etc and see whether they've got (or know of) opportunities. Networking is going to be of more help than cover letters.

03:05 pm July 2, 2019

Rather than a cover letter, give links to 2 or 3 videos, each just a few minutes long, in which you discuss pertinent agile topics (e.g. servant leadership, limiting WIP, value and metrics). Refer to them as "virtual interviews". It gives companies and recruiters a chance to quickly size you up. Surprisingly few people do this and it is a stand-out technique.

 

09:23 am July 3, 2019

A great idea, Ian.  You could also get the pizza delivery guy involved! ;)

10:03 am July 16, 2019

Hi Alex,

 

This may not be relevant, but have you considered asking companies for an internship? I was very lucky and got my break because someone found me on these very forum's where I was writing about my search for an internship because I lacked the experience, and offered me a chance. 2 weeks into the internship I was offered a job.

This obviously is a dream scenario...

 

That said I can't tell you about how much I learnt being hands on during these 2 weeks. Honestly, putting ego aside and going in with a mindset of , "I'm here to learn and soak up everything I can" really helps. I know there is a financial sacrifice, but end of the day, it has been 100% worth it for me.

 

Cheers and good luck!

 

10:05 am July 16, 2019

Sorry meant Michael!