I currently work at a large IT consulting firm as an agile project manager. I am PMI-PMP, ACP certified and have 3-4 yrs of scrum/xp experience of which 2 years as a scrum master. I am contemplating a job offer for the role of Iteration manager / Scrum Master with a large e-commerce retailer. The big plus for me is to get ecommerce experience exp in large scalable systems.

The scrum master/IM role (Typically and in this case) does not have stakeholder management responsibilities, staffing, people management, risk management and P&L responsibilities - all of these I currently do in my role and I know is high demand for PM jobs. I do not want to make a career out of scrum-mastering or becoming an agile coach. My aspiration is to grow to program manager or business development roles and consider this opportunity to gain some e-Com experience.

I would like to know

  1. How do recruiters & hiring managers view this transition from PM to SM - will this transition hurt me if I want to shift back to Proj / program mgmt roles after gaining e-commerce experience ?

  2. Does the actual job title matter (Project Manager vs Scrum Master) when looking for new jobs in the PM space ?

I am trying to ascertain if taking up the Iteration manager for the benefits it offers (e-commerce experience) will hurt my chances of progressing along the project/program manager track (which I am currently on)

Feedback will be much appreciated from Recruiters/Hiring Managers/Fellow PMs/Scrum Masters.

  • This question is (1) not a practical problem in project management (2) only relevant to the OP, not to the rest of the audience (3) highly opinion oriented. You might be better served to ask hiring managers and recruiters (not project managers).
    – MCW
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 11:26

4 Answers 4


I'm a scrum master working for a company building e-commerce applications for midsized clients (~20-200 employee range). I've previously worked at a large e-commerce retailer in telecom. From my perspective:

  1. A scrum master role will give you experience in scrum, which might be good for your CV. It does require insight in how development teams work. You're expected to facilitate the scrum team, which can be difficult at first. Scrum mastering really centers around helping the development team and product owner applying scrum. Getting work done, estimates, prioritizing, is all done by the development team conferring with the product owner. The scrum master handles scrum and not much else. Read the scrum guide (if you haven't already) to get a good feel of how all this works. In short: scrum mastering and what most people consider 'classic' project management are two entirely different beasts.

  2. Scrum does not have a formal project manager role. As said, a project manager and scrum master do very different things. Therefore, the title will matter. Of course, you can always boast having experience in both fields. From what you're saying about your goals and aspirations, I think you should look at the product owner role. It sounds like you're more into big picture product development and maximizing team value to the stakeholders, which suits the product owner role far better.

As for e-commerce experience, I don't think that should be a dealbreaker in any but the most specific jobhunting cases. If you're already in IT, most jobs in the project management area shouldn't be unreachable due to lack of e-commerce experience. It's simply a business model or retail channel. Teams still work the same in most regards, business goals are everywhere, time is still time, stakeholders have their needs, et cetera.

  • Thanks Rieks. I already have 3-4 years of scrum/xp experience. so I am not looking towards the scrum-master opportunity to learn about scrum. I am trying to ascertain if taking up the Iteration manager for the benefits it offers (eg: immediate job offer, e-commerce experience) will hurt my chances of progressing along the project manager track (which I am currently on). But I like your suggestion of the product owner (PO) option. Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 9:38
  • With what your describing in general, i'd still say a scrum master role would not be ideal, as it's probably farther from your ambitions than your current PM role. E-commerce experience to me is not a big deal, especially when you're already in IT. Pressing personal circumstances and job offer benefits may outweigh all this, but that's personal and not that helpful to the rest of the community : )
    – upstream
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 9:43

1.How do recruiters & hiring managers view this transition from PM to SM - will this transition hurt me if I want to shift back to Proj / program mgmt roles after gaining e-commerce experience ?

Hello there I am a Scrum master from UK and I believe that most roles in the current market looking for project managers seek digital/eCommerce experience. Personally I dont think so this transition will hurt you as I feel that it will be considered as an Addon on top of your project manager experience.

But if you apply for very small percentage of specific project managers roles which only require planning and implementation part of project, you might not get through as those small number of roles are specifically build for project managers profiles not for facilitators profiles.

Does the actual job title matter (Project Manager vs Scrum Master) when looking for new jobs in the PM space ?

Yes it does as I mentioned above scrum master is considered as a facilitator where as project manager is always considered as a guardian of the project.

  • interesting viewpoint. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 5:48

I am not in as formal an environment as you are and haven't been for some time. But what that has taught me is that you should not be concerned about titles, job descriptions, career paths that some people might prefere to see (and others then won't).

The only thing I would suggest you should be concerned about are the results you can produce and then talk about.

I would give preference to a candidate who argues with results and his own contributions towards them over one that solely refers to being in a position for a time period X anytime.

  • Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. As much as I would like to believe that job titles are not important, my experience in interviewing tells me that it is a big factor in even being shortlisted for an interview. If this role was that of a project manager with some scrum master skills, I guess I could take a temporary hit in responsibilities , viewing it as a learning experience. But the issue arises when the job title spells out scrum master, stripped of all PM responsibilities. So, someone looking to hire a candidate with recent PM experience may not find scrum-mastering sufficient. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 5:49
  • I can see how there are environments where people rely on that type of information to assess and judge candidates. But I think it also tells a lot of those peoples' understanding of and appreciation for a candidate's track record. In the worst case it's the first sign that the recruiter (internal or external) does not understand the requirements for the position itself. It may also just be a matter of habit specific to companies of a certain size that I am not all too familiar with, or even a cultural thing in the place that you live in.
    – matt_jay
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 7:40
  • As long as you're fine with playing that type of game, I hope the other answers help you do so. If you are curious if e rules can be bent or if there's a more fun sport to pursue, how about applying for a position you are not really interested in (other location, different industry) and see if you might not be able to sell yourself on other criteria? ;-)
    – matt_jay
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 7:41

Based on the career goals you've described, this doesn't sound like the right opportunity. To me, the move from PM to Scrum Master would look like a demotion at worst, and a desire to shift from a management to a technical role at best.

The reason it looks like a demotion, from a project management career perspective, is that the responsibilities appear to be shrinking. Additionally, while most Agile trainers I've met agree that Scrum Master is a critical role, some take the position that Scrum Master isn't a full time job and that at a scrum meeting for expert-level Agile teams any team member should be able to take the Scrum Master role.

A safer transition would be to a Product Owner role, or a lateral move to a Project Manager. As a Product Owner, you could justify the move as a growth opportunity that affords you additional experience working in a customer-facing role. Unlike the Scrum Master, who is largely a facilitator inside the technical team, the Product Owner is a full time role working with customer representatives to define, negotiate, and prioritize product features and success criteria. The Product Owner is not expected to participate in development activities, except as an advocate for the needs and priorities of the customer. Those skills will be invaluable as a project manager or program manager.

The Scrum Master is a facilitator and reporter of team decisions. Some organizations may make the mistake of treating the Scrum Master as the person responsible for estimates and planning, but those organizations are missing the point of Agile. All team members estimate. All team members plan the sprint. All team members contribute improvement ideas at retrospectives. All team members swarm to overcome roadblocks identified at the daily standup. The Scrum Master is just someone who steps up, like a team captain, to keep people motivated and hold them accountable to following Agile ceremonies and practices that the team has adopted.


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