Reviewing Resumes for an Agile Team: Qualities, Preferences, Non-Technical Skills

So, if you were looking for a developer or a tester or a business analyst (or a whatever role) for your agile team, what qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills might that person have? And, is there a way to recognize those characteristics in a resume?Here's a potential list of qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills. This can only be a potential list because every team is different and the characteristics they're looking for are likely different. On the other hand, many agile team members share these qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills: (If you have more characteristics, please comment.)

  • A desire to finish things. (This helps the team accomplish the goal of working software.)
  • A spirit of collaboration. (This is partly working across the team, and the ability to contribute to work product review.)
  • (There's a word here I want. Is it the idea of egoless work? Help!): The ability to ask for help, to seek out review.
  • The ability to take initiative. (To take tasks off the list, to see where there are problems in the code or tests and to refactor.)
  • Enjoy working in an intense environment. (The shorter the iteration, the more intense the daily work is. The pace may be sustainable, but the work is intense.)
  • Ability to develop and maintain collegial relationships across the team.

So, are you going to see a resume with these characteristics on it? Not in keywords. You might see a statement like this: “Worked with the team to release in pieces, to obtain feedback on already-completed features.” That might mean the person had a whip. Or, it could mean that with a collaborative style, the person helped others see how to implement by feature and continually test as they used continuous integration to see where they were day after day. You can't tell from this sentence.When I review resumes, I let the person's resume guide my thinking. I look at all the statements, and try to picture what would be true for this person to have accomplished that. And of course, I have my own filters for how I perceive the statements (as you do).

3 Replies to “Reviewing Resumes for an Agile Team: Qualities, Preferences, Non-Technical Skills”

  1. Johanna,
    I believe that the word you are looking for is accountable. As a developer, I was always looking for roles with a balance of accountability and autonomy – that is enough autonomy to be able to get something done, but a spirit of accountability that supports the practice of sufficient review, dialog, and collaboration – rather than pure “heads down” coding. The accountability allows each person to express his leadership in safety at whatever level he is comfortable.

  2. I have only one comment and that is about the characteristic: “A desire to finish things”. I happen to be a person who is driven by done. My family & co-workers could tell you this personality trait of mine is somewhat obsessive.
    There are other people who in fact, thrive where they can ‘explore’ a myrid of possibilities before arriving at “done”. The problem with someone like myself is that being “done” often becomes more important than all other ‘goals’. I need to be ‘balanced’ with people who are always looking for alternatives and possiblities.
    Of course the downside with those who are interested in the “journey” (rather than the destination) is that they never get done.
    The best teams are diverse. To many people who have the same outlook and approach to solving problems will miss things along the way. Sometimes with terrible consequences.

  3. When building any team, focusing on the soft-skills, such as customer service, should be a priority. Technicals can be trained, while people skills cannot. Either you have it or you don’t.
    However, too many companies don’t want to train their employees anymore. They all want experience. If they say that their employees are their most valuable asset, why don’t they treat them that way.

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