Is an Agilist Hurting You From Finding Good Talent?

I remember when I earned my Agile certification, I thought Agile was the best thing ever.  I talked about how awesome it was to anyone who would listen. The excitement wore off after a couple of days but it still remains one of my favorite training courses. After attending a career fair, and after several interviews, I realized how far people may take the agile methodology. So, let me explain a bit more.

“Ew, you had to use Waterfall for that project” one hiring manager commented to me with a smirk on her face. I thought  about how much money that project made, and how many people it impacted. How we got there wasn’t really a laughing matter, all that should matter is if we got there successfully. I have been on both Waterfall and Agile projects So I guess I am ancient to some. It is really up to the organization and the customer to determine which one works best for them. To be honest, the Agile project I was on failed, and the Waterfall project I supported is still going strong. With that being said, it really depends on the people you hire and the skills that they bring. If you are a strong leader, how ever you decide to run the project, your strong leadership capabilities should contribute to the success of your project.

I found a job description with very specific requirements: “5+ years of professional experience, 3 of which working with stakeholders in an agile development environment to define requirements and reach consensus on the methods, outputs, resources, and timing of the process architecture and execution work” you-x-ventures-1439463-unsplash

What I learned about Agile was that it supports the idea of self-forming team, and we develop portions of a product in sprints, generally speaking. I know there is more to it but this is just one of many approaches to developing a product. I often see job descriptions for individual contributor roles stating “must have Agile experience” or “must have x amount of experience using the Agile Methodology” and this is where I have a problem. I often picture a crazy agile person throwing away great talent in the trash because it does not have the word “Agile” on it. However, neglecting the fact this candidate has all of the skills necessary to help your team succeed. Has it ever occurred to some Agile professionals that they just haven’t had the opportunity to work on an Agile team before? Also, if you are an effective leader, you should be coaching your teams to become more efficient using agile best practices.

So, if you are hiring new talent for your Agile team. I suggest keeping your opinions out of the interview process, and first take a deep look at yourself and your team and determine what you need for your project to be successful. Most of the time this will come down to certain technical skills and experiences before needing someone with Agile experience. So, before you toss a resume, look at the value this applicant may bring. Before you comment on how their team used the Waterfall methodology, ask about the project and how this impacted others. In fact, just ask about the human being that is sitting in front of you, and see how their experience adds value before eliminating them in your mind because of their limited amount of Agile experience.