Developing Bonus Points, the Key to Getting the Next Job?

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2012

I recently got a call about a potential job.  It's a job working for a former client and friend I did some work for a few years ago.   Last time I worked for him I left a very good impression on him with my hard work and our mutually shared interest in all things geek.

This potential job requires a few skills I do not currently have, but can pick up very quickly.  I am sure he could go out in the market place and hire someone who skill set better matches their current needs.  So why would he pick me over someone else?  He knows me?  He knows I can do hard work?

My Theory

I am sure its been said before in many different ways, but here is my take on it...

Bonus Points!  

The hiring decision maker attempts to give a score to a potential hire.  This can be based on many things, resume, past experience, ... etc.     This score is based on simple facts and first impressions, and if this was the only measure then whichever potential hire has the highest score would be the one given the job offer.

However, to this score is added bonus points.  The bonus points are added to the potential hires overall score.  A large bonus point added to an already good score will put you way ahead of the competition.

As a simple example Potential Hire A has 40 bonus points in the mind of the hiring manager he also has a regular score of 80 so his total score is 120.   Potential hire B has no bonus points so they have to be 50% better in their regular scoring just to come head to head with Potential Hire A, and that is a big deficit to overcome.

How do I get Bonus Points!

  • One on One pre-established work behavior
  • Established Relationships
  • Network Connections
  • Shared Interests
  • Transfer points

One on One pre-established work behavior

This in my mind is one of the biggest bonus points you can earn or can work against you.   People you have worked with one on one on hard projects, people who have seen you shine and become a fan of your work will award you huge bonus points.  On the other hand people who have seen you avoid work, fail at job, and lose clients will assign a huge negative score to you.

Established Relationships

Relationships you have with people inside and outside of work can give you bonus points.   It's not as much as a bonus point as can be earned with "One on One pre-established work behavior" because they have not seen how hard working you are in a professional environment.  These people have seen some of the real you and like what they see, and everyone wants to work with people they like.

Network Connections

The next rung down the line is your network connections.  These can range from weak to strong connections and as a result so can the bonus points earned.  Think of things like local clubs, local professional clubs (In my case Java User Groups),  Colleges (did you attend the same college as the hiring agent),  are you a member of the same political party (and if you are not it could count against you).

Shared Interest

Genuine shared interest can give you some bonus points.  Some examples are you are a serious rock climber , you restore old cars, etc... and you share that passion with the hiring manager.   It may not give you a lot of bonus points but every bit counts.

Transfer Points

One of the most amazing things about bonus points is they are transferable!!   Maybe not 100% but a percentage of them are transferable.  For example, I have a close friend Kevin who I have worked with for years and we both have very high bonus points for one another.  If he was in a position to hire someone and I suggested a colleague that he does not know that individual would get some of my bonus points.   And depending on how I presented him he would get more or less of those points.  If I said "Oh, there is this guy in my bicycling group who is looking for a job and I think he has the skills you are looking for"  He would get a small percentage, but he would get them.  However if I said "This guy is awesome you are not going to do better" and I gush over his capabilities he may get nearly all the bonus points transfered to him.

So where do you go from here?

Build your network up in a smart way.

My current thinking is to focus on getting more people with "One on One pre-established work behavior" who are in a position to hire you.   I have several people in my network who have "One on One pre-established work behavior", but few who are in a position to hire me.

So how do you solve this?
You could just jump from job to job to job, but that can impact you in a bad way very quickly.   One idea I am trying to work this year is taking on small part time jobs 5-10 hrs a week 2-3 month contracts working for small companies at a reduced rate.  If I can get a few part time jobs like this every year I could build up my network in an optimized way to get me that next job.  If I had a dozen people in my network, who were in hiring decision making positions who had "One on One pre-established work behavior"  bonus points with me transitioning to the "next" job would be much smoother.

Any thoughts to add to this?

- Patrick Bailey

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