Within companies that practice the Scrum and Agile methodologies, the Scrum master has a vital job, ensuring that the team is following the process and building the best possible products. A good Scrum master is a combination coach, product manager, cheerleader, and developer. That can make writing an effective Scrum master resume a tricky proposition.
The ideal Scrum master resume will show the candidate’s absolute mastery of scrum tactics. It will also highlight their teamwork and management skills, as well as their ability to juggle the elements of complex projects. We spoke with several experts who hire Scrum Masters to find out exactly what they’re looking for in such a resume.
Scrum Master: Critical Skills to Master
A good Scrum master understands that the core of their job is leadership. Encouraging others to follow best practices for Agile and Scrum tactics to achieve goals is critical—and not always easy. Leslie Radka, Hiring Manager and co-founder of GreatPeopleSearch, tells Dice that organizational skills matter for Scrum masters:
“One necessary skill for Scrum masters is the ability to implement a fine-tuned organizational system. Scrum teams require structure and planning to keep things organized, so Scrum masters must have a strategy in place to keep everyone on track while ensuring no task assignments are overlooked.”
Radka notes many teams utilize platforms to keep disperse teams on track, so mastering the platforms most widely used (like Jira) is a good first step. You may also want to poke through a company’s job posting to see if they use a platform you’re not familiar with so you can give it a test run before an interview.
Teresa Salazar, international tech recruiter at Parabol, adds: “They must be ready to remove any obstacles or impediments that block the way to success so that their team is free to focus on what really matters.”
Scrum Master Resume Template
Curious about a Scrum master resume template? Take a look at this; note how it manages to compress a massive amount of detail into a very efficient amount of space:
Leadership is a Soft Skill
Salazar reminds us leadership is often a series of soft skills:
“Soft skills like empathy, active listening, and good communication skills are key. A good Scrum master must go beyond knowing all the basic agile ceremonies. They must become a facilitator to ensure that conversation flows during the daily standup meetings, sprint planning sessions, and retrospectives. They must make meetings engaging and give every member of the team space to have their ideas heard. They must adapt to the team's needs and teach them how to self-organize.
“Empathy is without a doubt the most overlooked skill in the tech world, and it's especially important for Scrum masters. Without empathy, Scrum masters will lack the interpersonal skills necessary to understand the members of the Agile team. After all, the Scrum master's job is to clear the way so that the dev team can achieve their goals, and the first step to doing that is to understand the team.”
In light of that, when crafting your Scrum master resume, make sure that you highlight your “soft skills” (such as empathy and communication) just as much as your Scrum-related and technical skills. You can list them in your skills section, or you can integrate them into your experience section, by describing (briefly) how you used your soft skills to guide a team through a challenge or a complicated project.
Radka adds: “Excellent teaching abilities are required, particularly for teams new to the Scrum approach. Not only must a great Scrum master know what to do, but he or she must also be able to communicate how and why to everyone involved.” So, make sure to mention communication as part of your soft-skills set.
Steven Walker, CEO of Spylix, says: “Being a good leader begins with being a good listener; consider the servant leader model. Attend daily standups, backlog meetings, sprint planning, team reviews, and retrospectives with vigilance. Listen for issues, raise awareness, and lead the team to a resolution.”
Scrum Masters Have Hard Skills, too
Scrum Masters are leaders, and leaders need a firm foundation of soft skills as well as mastery of hard skills and technical prowess. “I look for Scrum masters who understand Agile and software development,” Walker adds. “Scrum, at its core, assists software development teams in building adaptive products. I look for Scrum masters who can help teams move forward with the right tools and techniques if they have technical knowledge of developing software in an Agile environment. Scrum masters should be knowledgeable about the technical product being developed and the development tool suite. A Scrum master does not need to be able to code. Understanding the product's technical features and use cases, on the other hand, is critical to running the Scrum project successfully.”
“The perfect Scrum master must have worked as a software engineer in the past,” Salazar tells us. “It's also helpful if they have experience in the sector [the job is in], as the challenges that a developer faces in, say, a fintech startup tend to be very different from those faced by one working at an established technical infrastructure company. Previous experience as a project manager is not necessary, although some Scrum Masters find it useful to have worked in a managerial position in a company that uses a waterfall methodology. After all, there's no better way to know which pitfalls to avoid.”
Scrum Master Certifications: Worth It to List on a Resume?
Certifications are a hot-button topic in tech. There are a lot available to technologists, but the jury is out on the value they return for job seekers. You can pay thousands of dollars for some tech certifications, so having that investment pay dividends in your job search is critical. For Scrum masters and Agile practitioners, there’s a constant debate over whether to earn them, and whether they’re helpful in actually landing a job.
“The Certified Scrum Master credential shows employees that you have the experience and skills to lead an agile team successfully,” Walker says. Some jobs with a heavy Scrum component will outright ask job candidates to have particular certifications; others will treat any certifications as a “nice to have.”
Radka says certifications from popular sources like scrum.org and the Scrum Alliance are good to see on a resume—but stops short of saying they’re required. Meanwhile, Salazar tells Dice: “If a prospective Scrum Master doesn't have the right certifications, they better be ready to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be a successful Scrum master. Overall, I'd rather hire an experienced Scrum master with excellent people skills over one that has no experience but who boasts an official certification.” In other words, whether or not you have certifications, make sure your resume effectively shows your mastery of Scrum concepts—that way, your resume will make it past the initial hiring screen and into the hands of someone who can make a decision whether to bring you onboard.