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How to become a Scrum Master from a Hiring Manager

How do I become a scrum master and how do I join a tech team?

I will answer this question in two parts. First, I want to provide you with an overview of what are the two most common paths of becoming a scrum master. And in the second part, I’ll provide you with a proven step-by-step plan on how to become a scrum master.

Let's start with the two common paths of becoming a scrum master. The first one is getting into the technology field with a lower entry role like a tech support or help desk.

This is a popular approach because it is an easier way to get into tech. You probably know that without any background in tech or any experience, it's difficult to start your first tech role. This approach gives you an additional benefit because it allows you to see all the other tech departments and really expand your network, which can ultimately lead to your first Scrum Master job. It will also give you a better understanding of how technology teams operate and gives you the possibility to learn their process.

For example, I have a friend I coached recently on becoming a Scrum Master who did just that. While he was in the tech support role, he offered to shadow one of the Scrum Masters from a different department, which allowed him to see how the job was done first hand.

The second common path I've seen in my experience is more of a transition. These are people in adjacent tech or business roles to the Scrum Master.

Some of those roles can be quality assurance, business analyst, maybe a traditional project manager, or maybe even someone on the business side, or in digital marketing. Once you are in one of these roles, it's much easier to leverage your existing experience and transition those skills towards the scrum master role.

Those are the two common paths of how to become a Scrum master.

Now, let's talk about the step-by-step plan on how to become a scrum master. I created this plan based on my own experience gathered over the years on how I would start down this path if I were to do it again. I also included everything I would like to see in a Scrum Master like the ones I hired in the past.

I broke it down into 6 parts.

First, you want to establish your agile knowledge base. That means you want to understand the concepts and theory of different Agile Deliveries. But also to understand the hands-on applications of them like Scrum and Kanban. In addition, I would look into the main use cases for Scrum and Kanban. You can do this by researching on your own online on YouTube or take online classes.

Establishing this agile knowledge base will give you a good foundation towards being a Scrum Master.

Since most of the Scrum Masters find themselves working on a technology team, you should know the basics of the Software Development Lifecycle method also called SDLC. This is the main method used for building any software products. Everyone working in technology is aware of this SDLC method. I like to ask Scrum Master candidates about this method in interviews. You will be surprised how many of them are not able to articulate an answer on this topic.

Second, I would recommend practicing Scrum and Kanban in a simple way in your current environment. This doesn't mean that you have to have a Scrum master role or work in technology. I highly encourage you to look at your current role and your current job and see how you can implement Scrum or Kanban. In trying this, you will encounter different challenges and find yourself asking questions. And that's going to take you down the path of researching and learning how to implement Scrum and be more comfortable with applying it.

You can even apply these methods at home. For example, if you have some kind of project at home, like something in the backyard or a big trip that's happening, or just managing day-to-day tasks around the house. You can easily implement the Kanban method in your own home and manage those daily tasks using a project management approach.

It's great experience and it will give you good practice on using Scrum and Kanban.

The third part is identifying the soft skills required in Scrum Masters and see if you need to enhance any of your own skills in this area. You can research the top 10 scrum master soft skills and Identify areas of improvement for yourself. This is definitely the time to brush on those skills before you actually go down the path of starting a job in this area.

Doing these 3 parts will also give you a good idea of what it means to become a Scrum Master. At this point it's a good time to ask yourself if this career path and role is the right fit for you? If everything you learned up to this point gets you excited and confirms your decision, then it’s time to double down on it by investing into a Scrum Master Certification.

The reason why I put certifications in at this point is because certifications are expensive. So if you're not sure if this is the right path, then you probably don't want to waste your money. A certification can be anywhere from $500 to $1000.

There are many certifications out there but there's about three or four of them that are really at the top of the industry. My recommendation is to start with something that's more general and more entry level and that's actually the CSM certification from Scrum Alliance. It also happens to be one of the most popular ones. If you don't have a lot of experience and you want to start with a basic certification, this will be a good pick for you.

It also helps that it's very popular and a lot of the recruiters are familiar with this certification so when they look at your resumes it will check their box. By the way, if you want to increase your chances of passing the Scrum Master certification, stay tuned for our Introduction to Scrum Course that will come with a mockup exam for the Scrum Master certification.

 All right, so let's say you got your certification., you've established your agile knowledge base, you've practice Scrum in your current environment, you’re improving your soft skills and you got certified. Unfortunately, if you don't have a lot of experience by just getting certified, it is not gonna land you that first role. That's the reality. It's very competitive being a Scrum master and it requires more than a certification, especially for getting your first role.

These two things are what I would do next in order to position yourself and give you the highest chance of starting that first Scrum Master role.

The next one is preparing for the Scrum master job. You should review your resume and transition your existing skills and experiences that you have from your current roles into a resume from the perspective of the scrum master. Go and review Scrum master resumes and job postings. This should give you a good idea of what employers are looking for and how to articulate your current experiences to better match Scrum Master requirements, especially the soft skills.

Let's be honest, we all are doing those soft skills every day: communication, leading teams, problem solving, all soft skills needed for the Scrum Master.

Then, research what are the typical Scrum Master interview questions. You can look into the first 20 or 50 questions that are used for interviewing Scrum Masters.

Practice answering those as much as you can and get comfortable with them.

The last part, which is actually the most important one, is to network and then network some more. In my experience, getting your first Scrum Master role without experience is very difficult by just applying online to random job postings. So this is why you should spend most of your time networking.

Here are some recommendations for networking.

Start by adding everyone you know on LinkedIn and reach out to your network individually. Catch up with them and see where they are currently working. You'll find that a lot of those people that maybe you haven't talked to in 2-5 years or so, moved around to different corporations.

By re-establishing that connection with them you can let them know about the career you are pursuing and see if they can put you in touch with someone from the technology team in their organization. Building that relationship and reaching out to these people, really increases your chances to get your first Scrum Master role.

Next I would reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn. There are plenty of recruiters out there that are willing to work with you. Let them know you got certified and you practiced Scrum in your current environment and are looking to transition into a Scrum Master role. Even ask for a quick call with them so you can introduce yourself and build that relationship with them.

Networking is the most important part. Most of the roles I had myself I got through networking. Either with people in my existing network or with recruiters.

Now all these 6 parts I highlighted are things you can do yourself, but If you need help I'm actually putting together a bootcamp with the proven approach on how to become a scrum master. I want to help you with the step-by-step guide that not only covers the theoretical part, but provides you with a practical hands-on approach to successfully doing the job.

Join our waiting list and take advantage of the introductory offer when the program is released.

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