Finding Scrum Master Jobs

Last post 08:44 am December 31, 2020
by Harley Dangan
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08:23 am May 17, 2017

I'm currently searching for a new challenge (that's my fun, enthusiastic interview way of putting it) as a Scrum Master.  

What I've found is, a lot of the companies I'm applying for and interviewing with have a very distorted view of what a Scrum Master is and should do (help gathering requirements, owning deployment processes, tracking a Sprints' progress and reporting it to management, working with Project Managers to create accurate project schedules, etc.)  Of course, if a company is early in its transformation it's expected that their understanding of Scrum and a Scrum Master's duties might be incorrect.

So my question is, what's the best way of approaching this?  Is it best to accept that they are not fully aware of what a Scrum Master's role is, and hope they're passionate enough about Agile and Scrum that they'll understand the role change?  Is it best to highlight this in the interview? Is it best to turn it down and wait for the right job?

A lot of these duties, such as working with PMs to create schedules, is stuff I don't want to do, even temporarily.  Is that wrong? Should I bite the bullet, again, in hope that they're transformation is solid enough to eventually shape my role into what it should be?

Has anyone else had experiences like this?

02:18 pm May 17, 2017

> What I've found is, a lot of the companies I'm applying for

> and interviewing with have a very distorted view of what a

> Scrum Master is and should do

That's right. If it's any consolation, you haven't simply been unlucky, and it isn't just you.

> So my question is, what's the best way of approaching this? Is it best

> to accept that they are not fully aware of what a Scrum Master's role is

You may accept this as being the present reality, but don't accept it as being unfixable.

> and hope they're passionate enough about Agile and Scrum that

> they'll understand the role change?

You can always hope for this. However, you have no right to expect it without evidence of an appetite, such as organizational sponsorship, for the deep change which is usually involved.

> Is it best to highlight this in the interview?

It's good if you can express a genuine interest in each distortion, and ask their opinion on it.

> Is it best to turn it down and wait for the right job?

That could make for a very long wait. Also, the "right" job is not necessarily the less challenging one.

03:35 pm May 17, 2017

The response I was actually looking for was a link to a job posting for the perfect position.

But yes, understood, and thanks!

What I've found recently is no apparent appetite for change.  When I've asked in some form or another about that appetite, it's received as if it's above my pay grade.  Who am I to be interested in such high-level matters?  

Oh well, I'll continue searching for someone who does display such an appetite!

 

02:21 pm May 24, 2017

If you want to do "real" Scrum, I would advise to keep far away from companies who don't fully embrase the framework. There are a lot of companies who think they know what Scrum is but instead they don't. 

It's not only about scrum events. Most teams are able to do a stand-up every day, do planning meetings, reviews and retrospectives. And then they think it's Scrum. But it's probably not. For instance, the team should be put together in such a way that a team is created which can address the sprints on its own. That's something different than having 7 people around on a department and put them in a Scrum team. 

Be sure the management of the company embrases Scrum and that it's implemented in the way the company works. Otherwise you end up explaining (and definding) yourself over and over again about Scrum, and you will be frustrated.

Good luck!

07:01 pm August 25, 2017

So my question to tag along with this would be, how do you break into a Scrum Master role with only a small amount of experience (less than 1 year) as part of a scrum team even with the PSM1 certification?

02:14 pm August 31, 2017

How do you land a SM role if recruiters say they are looking for seasoned scrum masters?

I have not held this role before, how can i break into this role? Is it just another catch 22.

08:39 pm August 31, 2017

Rarely do HR departments know what they are looking for when they're recruiting for Scrum roles.   This is why you likely come across "concrete" criteria and filters regarding open Scrum Master positions - because those in HR often have little if any knowledge about the role, and therefore can only set up pass/fail criteria to filter candidates by.   Surely a Scrum Master with three years experience is better than a Scrum Master with two years experience, right?

 

Ironic that in looking for Agile talent, they insert themselves between recruits and those within the organization that may be much better evaluators for such roles.   It may not be fair, but it is quite common.

 

I would study tactics for landing positions with little practical experience.   There is plenty of material online, and job search firms have plenty of advice regarding this as well.   Promote what you can do, and try to apply your past experience to the duties and responsibilities of a Scrum Master.   The hardest part is getting an opportunity to speak to a live person.   Do what you have to do to get to that point.

 

Once there, a good strategy is to ask plenty of questions about their Agile journey and where their maturity level is at.   Why did they decide to move to Scrum, and how long ago?   What are they doing well?   What are they still struggling with?

 

Ask questions about their Scrum practice.   How long are their sprints?   What is the executive-level support for Scrum?   How are they trying to improve sprint to sprint?   Are their customers / end-users happier with Scrum?   Is management happier?   Are the teams happier?

 

Ask questions about the team they are looking for you to serve.   How large is the team?   Are they stable?   Co-located?   Distributed?   Experienced with Agile, or new to it?

 

If anything, such a barrage of questions will either solicit very good responses or put the HR person on the defensive.   Either way, such inquiries will likely influence the HR person into thinking that you definitely know something about the role, and may get you to the next level of interviews.   Then, you just need to do a very good job of selling yourself.

 

Good luck!

09:12 am July 14, 2020

Is it perhaps foolish and hypocritical of us to jump into a permanent role? 

As Ian said...

However, you have no right to expect it without evidence of an appetite, such as organizational sponsorship, for the deep change which is usually involved.

I am not sure this can be found at the interview stage. I've not been granted the opportunity to see this at least. It seems we can only hope for this to be obtained through some trial period. Perhaps a rolling contract role of one month or less would be more wise. 

The overhead of searching for a new job, however, may challenge that idea.

11:48 am December 29, 2020

I have been going through the same phase. Recently, I asked a question from the interviewer to know what scrum means to them. Is it a new fancy word for a new position falling with the same roles and responsibilities of Project Manager.?

Sometimes Its really hard to understand how one can be a project manager as well as a scrum master as a leader.

Kindly share your opinion. 

07:07 pm December 29, 2020

My thought is try for a scrum master opportunity in your current organisation instead of looking for a scrum master role in a new organisation. 

08:31 am December 30, 2020

There are several questions in this thread. I'll start with the OP. :)

Will it be difficult? Will there be frustration? Will there be an uphill battle? Will you wish you never did this? Yes. But it is also an opportunity to actually cause a change for the better, to make an impact.

If you just opt for organizations that are already fully Agile (like Tom suggests), what are you going to achieve there? What will make you smile when you're 80 years old, sitting in a rocking chair and thinking back at your career? For me, it will probably be the people that I actually made a difference for. And those tend to be at organizations where I thought I didn't stand a chance.

As for the rolling contract of a month, I've been hired on a similar basis before. It sucked. I had to limit my ambitions to fit within a one-month time period. And when the month was over, the next mini-ambition came. After months, I had not really made an impact. Personally, I don't want to be involved in such a construct again.

As for looking for a permanent job, I learned that switching every year or perhaps two is a good thing. After being part of an organization for that long, I've started becoming part of the status quo. I heard myself say "that is just how things work here" a bit too often. Catching myself say those words makes me reflect on my current position nowadays. Am I still teaching new things? Am I still making a difference? Have I accepted things that I didn't accept when I started the position? Am I part of the status quo or am I still challenging it, trying to improve things? Am I still seeing the issues that need to be addressed?

In my latest assignment (that I liked a lot), I had been working there for a year and a half when I heard myself say these words. After reflecting, I found that it was better for myself, for the team and for the organization if somebody else took over. Someone with fresh impulses and different character traits that can make a difference where I could no longer.

Was it a hard decision to make? Did it scare me to leave a comfy position? Did it hurt to realise that I couldn't help solve every issue that I wish I could? Yes. But I'm happy I did it.

09:03 am December 30, 2020

As for the questions about getting hired into the SM role with little or no experience, this is a problem indeed. There are not enough good Scrum Masters around to satisfy the market's demands. Yet companies prefer fishing in an empty pond, rather than investing in releasing new fish into the pond. It is a strange self-sustaining problem.

What I would suggest is applying for a job with a software development company. There is a much better chance that HR will have some kind of an idea of what Scrum is. And there is a much better chance that the company is willing to invest in training, coaching and mentoring new Scrum Masters. IT companies also have a shortage of good Scrum Masters.

During interviews you should show the Scrum values. Openness about what your ambitions and current experience are. Courage to apply for the job that you really want. Commitment to learn as much as you can. Respect for the needs of the company by not refusing to do other things that you have experience in first, as long as you are set on your journey to Scrum Master. Focus by clearly defining your goal and discussing how you could continue to grow towards it on your journey with that company.

08:44 am December 31, 2020

A LOTof companies are looking for Scrum Masters without fully understanding what the role is for. It is kinda like thinking that Scrum is THE solution to problems rather than looking at it as a way to solve problems in a complex environment. 
 

But this could also be the reason why they need Scrum Masters.