Scrum Master needs tips on trying to land next gig

Last post 03:35 pm December 27, 2021
by Roxana Hernandez
7 replies
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01:29 am August 20, 2020

Hey all, first time posting here. I am recently PSM I certified, but my current company is really failing. Recently, I've been on paternity leave for 11 weeks. On my 2nd week of leave, my entire team was laid off. Additionally, a related team was completely cut as well, plus yet another team close to us had every member quit. I figured during my leave, I would push hard to get another job as a Technical Scrum Master, but I have been struggling a lot.

Since I've only more recently transitioned into the role officially (prior to this I was a software engineer), very few companies are even willing to talk to me for even an introductory call. I've had only one interview in 3 months. I also don't know if my resume is well geared/suited to companies wanting to contact me for SM roles particularly. I was wondering if there were any tips that some of the people who have been around this more would have to making oneself more attractive to a company looking for an SM (or preferrably a TSM), because while I really like this path of career, the lack of responses are getting very discouraging.

05:41 pm August 20, 2020

What have you learned about the challenges a Scrum Master faces within an organization? It sounds as though you have experience of organization-level impediments and dysfunctions. Have you highlighted these problems, and what you did to try and mitigate them, in your CV or resume?

Reflect upon your envisioned role of "Technical Scrum Master", which does not exist in Scrum. To what extent does that "technical" qualifier represent or reflect an organizational constraint? What is a so-called "technical" Scrum Master not doing that a Scrum Master would otherwise expect to do?

09:36 pm August 20, 2020

If you have done any BA or SA work in the past, highlight that in your Resume along with your Scrum Master accomplishments. My last SA contract ended in June and I had a new BA/SM role by the beginning of July and still get emails and calls from recruiters from Dice and LinkedIn.  

01:35 am August 22, 2020

We have a global audience here. It would help if you were to tell us where you're based so the job hunting advice can be catered to you. How many years have you been a Scrum Master? Every country is experiencing varying levels of employment fluctuations due to COVID-19 so it would help to know where you are.

Certifications help. Do you have the financial means to invest in other Scrum Master certifications? The Scrum Masters I've worked with had various certifications from different Agile organizations. One was even a credentialed Coach (not "Agile Coach").

Do you have a Plan B? Would you be willing to return to a being a developer?

05:30 pm August 24, 2020

Thank you for the queries so far. So, to answer each bit one at a time:

Ian: While it is correct that a “technical” Scrum Master role does not exist in official Scrum, I have been trying to look for roles as an SM with a technical background to try to give myself an edge in ways. I don’t see a ton of regular Scrum Master roles in NY - I think a lot of organizations only half-heartedly implement agile at all, no less follow the nitty gritty of Scrum.

Charles: It’s great that you’re able to get calls. I have tried to highlight both my PSM I certification repeatedly, and I have tried to focus my resume more to highlight my interest and work as a SM. However, it’s tricky to list a massive pile of accomplishments when you’ve only been doing the role for a few months.

Mark: I am located in the New York metropolitan area. I’ve only been a Scrum Master since early 2020. COVID-19 is part of the reason why I’ve been trying to look. Right now I am currently on paternity leave, which is ending at the end of this week. My entire team was laid off right after I went on leave, and I have a strong feeling my company has very different plans for my career when I return. I suppose I could get more certifications, but I feel like the short experience level as an SM seems to be the issue why I am not receiving much attention. I’d rather not go back to being a full on front-end engineer because I’m not thrilled with the direction that the industry is forcing the direction toward (aka ReactJS, which I honestly am not fond of), and I wouldn’t feel comfortable continuing along that path anyway with how often those standards are changed. I lost just about all satisfaction doing that work.

Just to also highlight the experience level thing - I was contacted by someone on LinkedIn today, and the conversation abruptly ended once my time at the role was under a year. This is also one of the very rare instances that I’ve been reached out to. This is why I feel like I need help.

11:59 pm August 24, 2020

You will more than likely get contacted by contract or staffing companies for contract roles which are short-term (six months to a year). At this point, take whatever you can get, while still applying for FTE roles.

If you want to be a Scrum Master, get more certifications from Scrum.org, and other Agile certification organizations. Do you have a graduate degree? More and more companies are giving preference to people with graduate degrees. Everybody I have worked with who was on an H1-B visa had a minimum of a graduate degree, which is why (other than cost savings) H1-B workers are highly desirable. A Masters will help set you apart.

Make sure you aren't just relying on LinkedIn for your job search. Did you ever facilitate team meetings or other events as a developer? Did you help remove impediments as a developer? Make sure you highlight those on your resume.

01:31 am August 25, 2020

Thanks for the tips, Mark. I do not have a graduate degree, nor do I plan on getting one at this time. It’s a big expense and a lot of time that I don’t really have right now. I’m also not H1-B, being born in NY. Further certifications may be another good route to go, so I might look into that next within the next few months.

I definitely acted as Scrum Master in situations when I was a developer. I will try to highlight those more if I haven’t done that already. I’ll do some resume combing over the weekend perhaps.

07:55 pm December 26, 2021

Hi, I obtain my CSM early this year and have been watching Agile/Scrum training videos. I am making a career switch and would like to know which companies and/or staffing agencies do you recommend that I apply to as an entry-level scrum master?