Hiring for Agile Teams - Part 2

Photo by killingtime2

Photo by killingtime2

Part 1 of this series focused on having the right job description for an agile team.  This post will focus on what to look out for in resumes.

Resume Smells

I'm going to focus on what to watch for when reviewing Agile Project Manager, Scrum Master, and Agile Coach resumes.

  1. If the person was a "Project Manager/Scrum Master/Agile Coach" at an organization, I don't believe them.  Each role is very different, and I don't know of anyone who could do all of them simultaneously.  If the candidate lists different time frames for each role, meaning that they were distinct jobs the person did, then I'm more likely to believe it.  Know which one you're looking to hire.
  2. Does the objective or summary map to your job description?  Ideally candidates are taking the time to tailor their resume for you, so the language should be complementary.  I'm amazed at how many summaries will say "Experienced project manager" when the job description said "Scrum Master."
  3. Too technical?  Sometimes the candidate's resume reads more like that of a developer or an architect.  It's nice to know what projects were previously worked on, but you want to know about the person's experience in working with people, not designing solutions.
  4. Not technical enough?  If your team is working on backend software, you may need someone with some experience working with technical teams who can listen for smells that the team isn't delivering iteratively and incrementally.  I don't think that technical skills are needed 100% of the time, although they are nice to have.  And by technical skills, I mean being able to understand understand technical conversations and identify potential smells--not designing the solution or telling people how to do their work.
  5. People skills--what experience does this candidate have?  For Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches, you're looking for words like "facilitated," "mentored," "coached," and "taught."  Facilitation, mentoring, coaching, and teaching are the keys to the agile coaching stance.  I also like to look for community involvement.

What do you look for when reading resumes?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.