We are really good at finding Agile talent. Our clients love working with our Agile Coaches, and our clients’ team performance skyrockets when working with our Scrum Masters. In addition, our Executive Agile Advisors coach our C-suite clients through multi-billion-dollar program decisions. We all work together to share knowledge and resources for success.
So, when we match clients to our consultants, we are extremely selective about who works with our customers. We look at dozens of resumes for a single position on a client engagement and when we find someone with high potential, it’s common practice for us to help review their resume to highlight the “expertise” of that individual.
In today’s competitive workforce, it’s essential to have a resume that grabs the reader’s attention and invites a deeper focus. Sure, your resume needs to convey your professional background. But in our experience, finding a balance between detailing experience, highlighting meaningful accomplishments, and making it easy for hiring managers to “want you” is what transforms good resumes into great ones.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity in Agile or any other industry, here are our tips for getting your resume noticed by recruiters and set you above the rest of the candidates.
Keep it succinct
Resumes that are over three pages are too long. Four pages and you’re pushing the limits. At five pages, your resume might just be tossed. You might think it’s important to show your 20 certifications, 30 speaking engagements, and the details of your first job back in 1990 but it’s too much! Less is more. So if you’ve gone over three pages in 10-point font, start cutting back by highlighting areas that relate to Agile/Lean, product management, leadership, technical skill, or program management. Ask yourself, “for this position, is this resume detail an attractor or distractor for the hiring manager?”
Share real experience and results
Summarize your “value” in 3-5 bullet points at the beginning of your resume. Consider this the elevator pitch on why you should be hired. The points must “connect” to what the company is looking for. Be prepared to customize this if needed.
If you’re applying to a finance or healthcare company, highlight your experience in applying Agile in risk-sensitive regulatory-driven environments. Or, if you have specific experience that they are looking for – be sure to highlight this. I suggest avoiding vanity-driven highlights that are empty. This looks like “Excellent communicator” or “Seasoned, results-driven." Instead, call out specific points that showcase your accomplishments as skills. For example: “Organized and led quarterly planning sessions for 250 business and technical leaders in Product Development across US and Poland." Just like people use SMART for goals, keep your resume filled with SMART facts about your skills.
Keep the menial, day-to-day tasks brief so you can elaborate on how you improved the organization. Instead of “facilitated all Scrum ceremonies for four teams," impress the reader by making it meaningful. “Chartered and aligned teams to embrace the Product Owner’s mission and mentored team members on integrating Agile practices that helped them achieve an XX% performance increase."
Include unique qualifications and certifications
Think of all the experiences you have had in your career. Have you earned a training certification like CSM or CSPO? What experience do you have in Agile development? Show managers why you’d be uniquely qualified and why you’d be a great fit. In fact, certifications are so easily accessible, that those who don’t have a certificate rarely make it past HR. So if you’re applying for a Product Owner position, take the time to be sure that you have the certification to back you up. Same applies for the Scrum Master and any other Agile team member position. And while you’ll never get a job solely because of a certification, you may get overlooked if you don’t have one.
Pro-tip #1: Don’t get caught having to answer why you never bothered getting certified. Add a Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) or Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) to your resume. Even if you have the experience, managers, and HR are looking for ways to build assurance that each candidate is qualified with both experience and training. Hyperdrive Agile offers a variety of Scrum Alliance, ICAgile and Scaled Agile certified courses throughout the year in interactive, live-online classroom settings. Enhance your resume with a CSM, CSPO, A-CSM, Leading SAFe or Agile Coaching live-online certification.
Highlight your job role - not the title
People often submit resumes that don’t match a job description. The following are examples of job titles that we see on resumes every day: SAFe Coach, Consultant, Program Analyst, Principal Program Manager, Architect, Vice President. There is nothing wrong with these job titles. But on a resume, these are recruiting detractors that may have an HR analyst toss out your resume. So, for whatever role that you’re applying for, cite your past experience even if it wasn’t your actual Job (or Job Title). Is this lying? Only if it’s untrue.
We had a great Software Architect who wanted to transition into Product Management. Her experience included defining the requirements of an internal platform. While her real job was a Software Architect, she played the product owner for the team. On her resume, we updated her job title to read: “Product Owner - Platform (Architect)." This way, her resume wouldn’t be filtered out by HR. Even better, the hiring manager who wanted a Product Owner with a technical background saw that the candidate would be perfect for a platform product owner position. For those who are Project Managers, and also operate as a Scrum Master, it’s okay to list your position as “Scrum Master (Project Management)."
A hiring manager receives many resumes throughout the hiring process. Tailor your experience to highlight achievements most relevant to the role you are applying for. If you are applying for an Agile Coach position, be sure to include what you know about scaling practices (SAFe, Scrum@Scale, Nexus, etc.). If you are looking for a product owner role, highlight what you’ve done on product prioritization or product/market fit.
Pro-tip #2: Many companies use applicant tracking systems. These programs scan incoming resumes and can filter out those that don’t use certain keywords. Read the job description and incorporate Agile terms that you’ve used in the field. And be careful not to overdo it. If a job description calls for the candidate to know how to scale agile, it’s OK to share that you know SAFe. But don’t use SAFe littered across your resume. Use other terms like “scaled agile practices” so that the reader focuses on what you did and does not automatically pigeonhole you into being limited to a specific scaling framework.
Leverage your professional networks and connections
Make the most of your social network. Be active on professional sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and reach out to connections you have made at conferences, previous positions, etc. It may be uncomfortable but letting people know on social media that you’re looking for a new opportunity will be a big help.
Every interaction matters and can lead to a new opportunity!
Pro-tip #3: Just recently, LinkedIn added a new “#opentowork” feature. This feature highlights your image on your LinkedIn profile with an easy-to-spot banner. All it takes are a few easy steps on your profile and you’ll be more easily spotted by recruiters. Also, update your LinkedIn status to “Seeking New Opportunities." Updating this will inform your network that you’re looking for a new role without you having to actively chase everyone down. The more people who know that you’re available, the more likely someone will share an open position.
Proofread before submitting
Recieve/receive. Avaliable/available. Or worse… S.C.R.U.M. (or SCRUM) instead of Scrum (Scrum is not an acronym). The typos are most managers’ pet peeve. It may not be our field of expertise, but poor grammar and spelling never look good on a resume. To be an effective Agilist, you must be good at communicating with your team, verbally and in written form. Always review, edit and review once more, before submitting your resume for a job.
Pro-tip #4: Recruiting a friend to check for simple mistakes is always a good idea. After their proofread, run a final review using spell check or Grammarly.
Questions? We Can Help.
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