May 7th, 2020

How to land a Scrum Master Job with No Experience

Preeth Pandalay
Preeth Pandalay

An executive turned transformation consultant with 25+ years of learning, Preeth trains and coaches... Read more

Being a consultant, one of the activities I often indulge in is helping the organization hire a Scrum Master if needed. I know that sounds kind of counter-intuitive after having hired me as a consultant but unfortunately that does happen. So when working with a client recently, who was on a burning platform so to say, we reached a decision to hire an experienced Scrum Master to flatten the curve – the learning curve, I mean.

The intention was to have in-house change agents who knew the trade and can accelerate the change. Now blame me for being biased one of the pre-requisite was PSM certification along with the requisite experience in the role. My reasoning (or call it my limiting belief) behind this was my previous experiences in trying to hire a great Scrum master.

As most of you who have attempted to hire a Scrum Master would know, many of the fantastic resumes can hardly explain the concept of self-organization. Forget self-organization, they can’t explain differentiate between a problem-to-solve for the development team and an Impediment. Many of them believed Daily Scrum was the status update meeting and followed it up with minutes of meeting to the other project members.

The sourcing team did a fantastic job of finding PSM-certified folks who could join within weeks but was surprised when the hiring manager said all the said Scrum Masters have mastered Microsoft Outlook with which they set up, track and manage all Scrum events, they have mastered MS-Excel that they use to track the user story assignment and its % completion, story points planned vs delivered and the most important metric velocity.

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They also seem to have mastered MS PowerPoint which they use to show the achievements of the sprint to the Product Owner for the scrum master didn’t know who the stakeholders were. After having talked to a few PSM folks they started doubting if I knew scrum even after being a Professional Scrum Trainer. luckily for me, the person who referred me to the organization said I knew what I was doing and I did really help him achieve his business goals (well! Most of it) which prompted them to move to Agile with Scrum as their choice of framework. Many of the PSM candidates were from service organizations who got their certification after internal training from the Agile COE.

There were folks who bought the PSM questions and cleared the assessment too. I have also written a blog on how to Pass PSM-I & PSPO-I without taking training. At the cost of sounding immodest and self-promoting - One thing I realized is there is a lot of value in attending a scrum training from a licensed trainer. Yes, you can learn the mechanics of scrum but the 2 day PSM training works as a launchpad helping you understand the three – The What, the How, and the WHY part of scrum.

You get a quick download of how Scrum was envisioned by its co-founder. After all the role Scrum Master was expected to have Mastered Scrum and to help both the teams and the organization to understand and implement Scrum.


Preeth Pandalay

An executive turned transformation consultant with 25+ years of learning, Preeth trains and coaches organizations to be agile and more importantly to stay agile. Preeth’s pragmatism finds its root in his diverse experience at various leadership positions.

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