Are looking to get an agile job, such as scrum master, product owner, or developer on a scrum team? I recommend using scrum to structure your job search. A job search is complex work, full of unknown unknowns. That’s exactly the sort of work that scrum is good for. Additionally, using scrum and related agile techniques to structure your job search will grow your agile knowledge and skills. Here are a few thoughts on how to use scrum to support your agile job search.
Pick Your Sprint Length
A job search is ever-changing. You constantly pivot as you discover new opportunities. Therefore, a short sprint length is appropriate. I recommend something between one day and one week. The shorter your sprint, the easier it is to respond to change.
Create Your Product Backlog
A product backlog is an ordered list of valuable deliverables. Your product is you, as a desirable employee. Here are some potential product backlog items (AKA user stories) that could add value to your product.
- Resume and LinkedIn updates
- Filling out applications
- Getting relevant experience, perhaps by volunteering
- Finding a coach, resume editor, or other helpers
- Building your professional network
- Up-skilling and professional development
- Researching companies
- Writing blog posts, LinkedIn posts, or articles
- Mock interviews
- Informational interviews
Refine Your Product Backlog
You might want to use the Easy Estimation With Story Points approach to create work estimates for your product backlog items. You can also create value estimates, in value points, using the same approach. Armed with work and value estimates, you can order your backlog so that the highest ROI items (value / work) are at the top. You might also consider using an Eisenhower Matrix to help you order your product backlog items. If a high priority item is too large to be completed in a single sprint, use these story splitting techniques to break it into smaller backlog items.
Pick a goal for the new sprint. Perhaps this sprint will focus on improvements to your resume. Having a clear sprint goal will help you focus on the most important work in the coming sprint.
Next, pull items from the top of your product backlog that will achieve the goal. Don’t over-commit! You want to make sure you have a realistic plan to accomplish an achievable goal. If the goal turns out to be too ambitious, scale it back.
Finally, make a work plan to deliver the backlog items and accomplish your sprint goal.
Break each backlog item down into a set of tasks. Once you have identified as many tasks as you can, double-check that you still believe your plan can be accomplished in the sprint. If not, adjust as needed.
If your sprint is longer than a day, start each day with a daily scrum. In the daily scrum, you’ll inspect and adapt for the sake of the sprint. In your daily scrum you will select the most important tasks that you believe you can complete that day. This is a great time to notice how the work has evolved since yesterday. There may be some hot new task like “Respond to the hiring manager’s email!” Perhaps some tasks are no longer needed and you can discard them.
If you want to be even more agile, you might consider having a daily scrum more frequently. Perhaps you do one in the morning and one after lunch. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes, and it lets you reassess where you want to invest your time.
In sprint review, you’ll inspect and adapt for the sake of the product. At the end of each sprint, celebrate your accomplishments. Next, adjust your product backlog to increase the value you will create in the future. Perhaps some hot new opportunities have come up and you would like to focus on those next. This is also a great time to do some backlog refinement, as described above.
In the sprint retrospective, you’ll inspect and adapt for the sake of the team. Perhaps you’re a team of one, or maybe you are lucky enough to have others on your job search team with you. Either way, this is an opportunity to examine how you are working and formulate a plan to improve how you are working.
Your improvement ideas don’t need to be big things. Perhaps you decide to get up and stretch every hour. That would be a great improvement to try! Treat your improvement ideas as experiments. You’ll try the new thing for a sprint and then evaluate how it worked at the next retrospective.
Working on your job search can be a great way to learn new tools. You could manage your product backlog using Jira, Trello, Monday.com, ClickUp, Pivotal Tracker, or any other tool that you think might be valuable to know. Most have free versions available so you can try them out.
Learning And Networking
I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to come to the free events put on through the Scrum Professionals group. Also, this is a great time to upgrade your resume and skills by taking advantage of the special job-seeker rates we offer on our Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner workshops.
While a job search can be stressful, it is also an amazing opportunity to invest in yourself and make the next leap forward in your career. Best of luck to you.
- How Do I Get A Scrum Master Job?
- Agile Learning Labs LinkedIn Group
- Video: Agile Job Search Tips For Scrum Masters
- Video: Agile Learning Labs What kind of Experience Does a Scrum Master Need?