How I used Scrum to find a job and change career

Today, we are talking about how I’ve used Scrum principles to find a new job and change my career altogether from being a supply chain manager to now being a product manager in a tech startup.

This is a question that I got from one of my listeners. You can submit your question here.

It took me a few sprints to find a job. Therefore, I’m not going to give you false promises like “If you use scrum, you’ll find the job in one week.” No, it doesn’t work like that. This is the true story of how I found a new job.

I continued to use the Monthly Method throughout my journey. All my job-search goals were in the Career & Growth category.

Sprint #1

Sprint goals:

  1. Submitting a certain number of applications for either a supply chain manager or an operations manager. Supply chain manager was the role I previously had, so it was an easy place to start.
  2. Send messages to 10 people on LinkedIn that might be hiring.

Sprint #1 Outcomes:

During my Sprint Review, I’ve realized that:

  • I didn’t get many responses on my applications.
  • Not a lot of people were hiring for supply chain manager positions from my network.
  • There were not a lot of job postings for supply chain manager in general during that time. 

I knew that I had to do something different in the next sprint. There wasn’t enough demand in the job market for supply chain managers. So I had to pivot. I should expand my search and see what are some of the positions that people are hiring for right now. I found out that business analysts were in huge demand. After scrolling through BA job postings, I’ve realized that I have the necessary skillset for this job. It means I can actually apply for these BA jobs if I change my resume. 

Sprint #2

Sprint goals:

  1. Change my resume to be suitable for a BA role. The definition of done for the goal: I have a resume that has all the keywords that I need to have for a business analyst position.
  2. Schedule meetings with my friends who are in BA roles.
  3. Apply for a certain number of BA jobs.

Sprint #2 Outcomes:

  • The response rate was a lot higher this time around than it was in sprint one.
  • Talking to my BA friends helped me further improve my resume. They also shared some valuable information about salary expectations, interview tips and tricks.
  • Overall, applying for business analyst positions was working. BAs were in high demand at the time. I decided to stick with this strategy in Sprint 3.

Sprint #3

Sprint goals:

  1. Apply for a certain number of BA jobs.
  2. Message a certain number of people on LinkedIn who might be hiring for a BA role.

Sprint #3 Outcomes:

During my sprint, I started seeing more and more product manager positions opening up that I didn’t see before. The job market was changing very rapidly. I continued applying for the BA positions but also started applying for product manager positions as an experiment to see what happens. I received a healthy number of responses back for the product manager positions. That’s how I ended up receiving interviews for product manager positions. And ended up having 2 job offers for Product Manager roles.


One experiment at a time

I started with a very safe approach. In Sprint 1, I was applying for supply chain manager roles – the job that I have done before. It was experiment #1. This experiment failed.

In sprint 2, I pivoted. I analyzed the market and started apply for Business Analyst roles. This was experiment #2. This experiment succeeded.

In sprint 3, I stuck with a winning strategy of applying for BA roles. But I stayed open to how the job market was changing. And it was. It was changing fast. I started seeing more Product Manager positions that required a similar skillset to BA roles. I apply to a few as a mini-experiment within a sprint and it worked!

Job search the Agile way

  • Analyze the job market.
  • Treat as one experiment at a time. Commit to one experiment for 2-3 weeks. Analyze results. If the experiment failed, create a new one. 2-3 weeks is enough to see if your strategy is working.
  • Have three job search goals maximum per sprint:
    • Resume enhancement work
    • # of applications submitted
    • Networking
  • Set one-on-ones with friends who have the jobs that you want to have. Get to know their experience. Ask how they found the jobs. Get some tips and tricks. You’ll be surprised how often they might be contacted by recruiters even if they are not looking for a job. Now they can refer you.
  • After 3 weeks, take a break. Don’t spend as much time submitting your applications during that week. Give yourself enough white space to thoughtfully review your sprint.
    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go so well?
    • What are some of the strategies that I should continue doing in the next sprint?
    • What are some of the strategies that are not working?
    • What are some of the new experiments I want to run in this journey of finding a new job?

Other blog posts that you will find helpful:

  1. “How to start a side project with full-time job.” If you have a full-time job and you want to embark on this journey of finding a new job, you will be treating it as a side project to your current full-time job.
  2. “Sprint retrospective for personal productivity.”
  3. “Time blocking reduces stress.” Looking for a new job is frustrating. There’s no better tool than time-blocking in fighting with overwhelm and frustration.
  4. “The one question that turns a lazy day around.”
  5. “How to use the Definition of Done for personal productivity.” “The Definition of Done” is one of the most important scrum concepts that you can apply for your personal productivity. Especially for projects such as finding a new job because it’s so ambiguous.

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