Agile and Scrum Hiring: Recruiters Mistakenly Looking for 12 Years of Agile Experience


We used to have the same exact challenge in the Java world.  Java came out somewhere in the neighborhood of 1995, and by 1998, recruiters were looking for people with 5 or 10 years of Java experience.  It happened to me often as a young budding Java programmer.

I’ve seen this happen with Agile as well.  I work with a lot of recruiters and partners on a lot of initiatives, and one of them is doing Agile and Scrum “phone screens.”  Before I do a phone screen for a client/recruiter, I ask for the job description so I know what they are looking for.  When I see job requirements that ask for something like “12 years of Agile”  or “7 years Scrum Master experience,” I have a talk with the recruiter.

I usually just politely say something like this to the recruiter:

“Agile really didn’t exist until about 2001, and didn’t really start taking off until about 2008 or later.  Even today, most organizations are relatively new to Agile.  The folks that were involved before 2008 are generally early pioneers that now charge about $200-1000/hr for their services.  So, if you’re looking to hire one of the pioneers, I can certainly refer you to them.  On the other hand, if your client is new to Agile and didn’t realize what they were asking for, I’d be happy to collaborate with you to tweak the job description to what it is they really *are* looking for.”

(Agilistas may want to to quibble with some of the facts or dates in that statement, but it’s fairly accurate, and it gets the point across.  The intended audience is recruiters, not Agilists.  Having said that, I welcome feedback and corrections!)

One other point of note is that there are a lot of people who claim they were doing “Agile” or “Agile Project Management” who are essentially “glossing over” or attempting to deceive about their “X years of experience in Agile.”  I have several ways of figuring this out in my phone screens, but I won’t mention my tactics here as they are trade secrets of ScrumCrazy.com .  :-)  Scrum Master and other Agile job descriptions that require numerous years of experience tend to draw out these fakers even more — and I’m sure that’s not what the clients really want.

So, if you as a job seeker run into this issue, feel free to refer to this article to help explain realistic expectations when looking for good Agile or Scrum people.

For you recruiters out there, feel free to contact me about my phone screen services, but also understand that the person who referred you here is trying very much to help you in your quest to make your clients happy, just as I am.

In the interest of transparency,  I (very mildly) financially benefit from the phone screens that I mentioned, but I don’t want this blog post to come off as a pitch for services.  Having said that, I feel like I’m providing a fairly low cost, high ROI service that helps the entire Agile community as a whole.

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