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What's Trending in the PM, BA and Agile World?

January 2018- by Wendy Harris, Senior Professional Recruiter & Delivery Lead, Orlando, FL., Stephanie (Reese) Stone, Senior Professional Recruiter | PMO, Charlotte, NC., Jamie Allen, Senior Professional Recruiter | PMO, Scottsdale, AZ., Steven Meyer, PMO Professional Recruiter, Kansas City, KS., and Holly Dockstader, Senior Professional Recruiter | PMO, Seattle, WA.

We have 16 recruiting practice areas at Apex, with our Agile, Project Management and Business Analysis practice being the largest. Over the last three years, our 200+ PM/BA focused Recruiters have placed over 8,900 Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Project Managers, Program Managers, and Business Analysts in contract, contract-to-hire or direct permanent roles.

We caught up with some of our most tenured PMO Recruiters to get a glimpse of current trends and requests they’re seeing from their hiring Managers!

Chantal CE Spotlight

1. What Agile trends are you seeing in your market?

  • The majority of our clients in Phoenix, at least 75%, are transitioning to Agile, with the most prominent flavor being Scrum.
  • Over 50% of our clients in Kansas City have released a job opening in the past year that has mentioned Agile in some form. Whether it be a traditional Agile role (Agile Coach/Scrum Master) or simply looking for PM professionals that have worked in an Agile environment. As more clients move to Agile, they have increased expectations that future hires will also come from a similar environment. Scrum is the most common flavor of Agile I see in my Midwest market.
  • The majority of our clients are in some stage of an Agile transformation here in Seattle. We primarily see Scrum & Kanban.
  • I would say close to 90% of our clients are moving or have already transitioned to Agile in the Charlotte market. We usually see the positions in waves, but right now, there is an influx of Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, as well as Agile BAs. We see this in everything from banking to energy to telecom. Scrum and Kanban seem to be the two frameworks we see the most, but we also see Jira and the CSM certification in many requirements.
  • Agile continues to be a huge trend amongst our clients in Florida and as our clients continue to fine-tune their Agile organizations, we have started to see more and more requests for experience with specific flavors of Agile, particularly Scrum followed by Kanban and SAFe. Many of the clients that have adapted Agile continue to be hybrid organizations - taking the parts of the methodologies and processes that work for their environment and adapting them - very few are true “Agile.” With that being said, I would say that at least 75% of our clients are doing some form of Agile or Agile hybrid at this point, if not as an entire organization, then at least with projects where the approach is most applicable. As a result, we are continuing to see a high demand for Agile Coaches, SAFe Agile Practitioners, Scrum Master, Product Owners, and Agile Trainers. Additionally, Agile certifications continue to be in high demand and some sort of formal training or certification seems to be an expectation for most of the higher level Agile roles – CSM, ACP, SAFe, CSP, and CSPO are the most common that we see.

Agile recordings

2. What are the top qualities/requirements clients are asking for in Project Managers? Business Analysts?
The top skills/qualities hiring Managers are looking for in Project Managers includes:

  • Project experience:
    • Big data (Hadoop, data warehouse, etc.)
    • Information security
    • Comfortable leading projects in an ever-changing environment
    • Diverse project portfolio experience (i.e. mixture of software/web/digital and infrastructure projects)
  • Ability to lead technical teams and also interact with the business
  • Strong communication and relationship management skills
  • Agile experience, with any experience being a part of a transition from waterfall to Agile being a huge plu
  • PMP certification

The top skills/qualities hiring Managers are looking for in Business Analysts includes:

  • Technical Skills:
    • Excel
    • SQL skills
    • An understanding of data anaylsis and/or business intelligence skills
  • Understanding of Agile principles, especially with writing users stories and utilizing Agile tools such as the Atlassian suite (Jira, Confluence, etc.)
  • Excellent communication and documentation, specifically with formal BA documentation such as BRDs, FRDs, use cases, user stories, RTMs, process diagrams, etc.
  • Excellent soft skills with the ability to listen and capture detailed requirements
  • CBAP, although not typically a requirement, is highly sought after

3. What certifications are clients seeking?
The top certifications hiring Managers are looking for in Project Managers includes:

  • PMP (Apex saw over 2,000 positions in 2017 where the client was looking for a candidate with their PMP)
  • At least one Agile/Scrum/SAFe certification (ACP, PSM, CSM, CSPO, SPC, SA)
  • Six Sigma
  • Our Government clients continue to put an emphasis on ITIL certifications

The top certifications hiring Managers are looking for in Business Analysts includes:

  • CBAP
  • ITIL
  • Six Sigma
*NOTE: For Business Analyst roles, we don’t see certifications listed in the ‘Requirements’ section, although having one can often be found under ‘Pluses’ or ‘Preferred Qualifications.’ and can be a candidate differentiator!*

For Agile roles, most clients prefer a CSM for Scrum Master openings. For Product Owners roles, customers do like to see the CSPO certification.


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