How to recruit a Scrum Master – the job description

Over the past few years, I was on both sides of the table – the recruiter and the candidate. The whole process is stressful for both parties, but the reasons for that are different. It is quite challenging to find the right candidate. It is also challenging to present self as the one. The usual starting point in any recruitment process is a job description posted by the company.

Why this article exists here

This article will be different than the usual materials published here. I wrote it for recruiters and everyone who thinks about hiring a new Scrum Master. It may be a good guideline for Scrum Masters as well – to validate if you have all the required skills or to check what the recruiter may verify during the recruitment process.

I would like to focus on two parts of the recruitment process which engage the recruiter and candidates. When I wrote this article, it has become quite long, and because of that, I divided it into two parts. The first post is about the job description and the way how to interest the candidate. The second one is about the interview. I wrote about my interview process and the key factors which I take into account during the meeting with the candidate.

The recruitment process of hiring the Scrum Master is different than regular recruitment and, because of that, difficult. In the standard recruitment process, you have to focus mostly on soft or technical skills – there are a few positions that require both halves of the apple. Here, the ideal candidate should have extensive knowledge about processes, working methods, and techniques. On the other hand, he should be someone who works with people. So as a recruiter, you have to check soft skills too.

In the beginning, know, who you need and what are your requirements

Just as a quick start. It may be obvious, but believe me – it is not. Job descriptions should have as much information about the new position as possible. It saves time for both. You, as a recruiter, should have enough knowledge about “who is needed”. A candidate, besides that, may also like to know:

  • company for which he will potentially be working – it is accurate info from the candidate perspective because it may have an impact on the decision if he wants to be part of the process. Some companies are known for their products. Others are known for their services. There are also ones which are known for their work atmosphere. Information about the company’s structure may also be an excellent addition.
  • requirements and duties – try to be as specific as possible. Do you need someone who will be responsible for the team performance? For the budget? Then look for Project Manager. Do you require someone who will help the team or guide them in terms of delivery and self-organisation? You are closer to the Scrum Master. Agile is widespread, and because of that, everyone is looking for Scrum Masters even if their requirements say something else.
  • perks and benefits – this point lets the candidate know what he may get in return.
  • salary – it is a fair point. I did not include it in the previous one, because it requires special attention. Remember, you are not the only one who needs new team members. This information may be the most crucial information on the full job description.

Regular stuff – right? Having all these data in place is the first step to let any candidate take a look at your offer and think about your proposition.

Are you looking for a Scrum Master or a Project Manager? It looks like you are trying to hire two people.

The transparent process saves time and time is money!

Being honest helps both sides. Especially that the recruitment process is costly to all parties, it is a great idea to describe the whole recruitment process to the candidate before it even starts. Most candidates start in at least a few recruitment processes simultaneously, and the length of your recruitment process may be critical information for them if they want to engage in your process and commit to it. It may be as valuable information as salary or job description!

Transparent information about the future job and job requirements help in proper communication. If both sides know precisely, why they are where they are and what are their goals, it may result in a better outcome from the recruitment process. Honest communication is as important as complete the order.

Let me give you an example, why accurate job description is such important. Let’s assume that you have found the ideal candidate. She went through all your questions like greased lightning. The process took you three months, but it was time worth spending. You agreed on all formalities, and she will be available within the next three months. After that time, she joined your company and started working even better than you imagined. And suddenly shortly before the end of her probation period, she told her manager that she would not sign on a permanent contract: because her position within the company is different than in job description, because the requirements are different than those presented during recruitment meetings. Fair enough but you’ve just lost nine months, and you still have to fill in the gap in your organisation.

Was it worth whole effort? 9 months vs 10 minutes of honesty. I will leave it here.

Read the second part of this article: the interview.

A natural born Scrum Master. Always mentally attached to Agile - initially a member of Development Team, eventually Scrum Master in the Scrum Team and Agile Coach in the organisation. The most important for me is to deliver value to end-users thanks to engagement of motivated team. For the past few years I have been gaining experience in project, product and team management. I prefer people-oriented managing style. I constantly repeat to everyone that good work environment can give huge benefit in to the project, its product quality and working environment. Because of that I became Scrum Master to fully support my teams as servant leader by using transparency, inspection and adaptation. I help other teams to be better specialists in their field of action. I see their success as my own even if I am working from shadows. I love to share my experience and knowledge on conferences and meetups - as a speaker and participant. Still trying to discover new ways of work and to improve my workshop.

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