This past September I left working as a contractor for a local small business after 5.5 years. It was a hard decision to leave such a great company and a CEO that valued people. There were a lot of financial and non-financial decisions in choosing to change jobs. Here are a list of things that played into my decision.
- Signing Bonus
- Who I was working with (if I stayed)
- Who I'd be working with (if I switched jobs)
- What technologies I'd get to work on
In making my decision to switch jobs I had a tough decision on whether to leave my awesome team. A team I had built and which worked well together. We had accomplished a lot of great things over the past three years, and most importantly, we learned a lot from each other along the way.
As I was negotiating my salary, benefits, and vacation, I asked, “if I have other people that might be interested, then could I get a referral for bringing them along with me?” With how uncertain our contract was in changing hands it made it really compelling for me and my co-workers to change jobs. The hiring manager said, “Yes we'd be interested in giving you the referral if you have other people that would come over with you. Can I get their resumes to make sure they'd be a good fit, and to ensure that they have the necessary certifications? The signing bonus is $5,000 for each person you bring over.”
Boom! Talk about utilizing your network to help yourself get ahead! I couldn't believe that someone would pay me for just utilizing my network.
In going through this experience, I realized that a lot of people are not only hired for their skill-sets, but also the network they carry with them. In my industry there are very few people with the necessary certifications and skills. The pull at these “human assets” is extremely lucrative both for the businesses as well as for the individual. A lot of times people take this “woah is me” attitude and feel lucky to have a job. What are you doing to be different from all the other professionals?
Develop your personal network
I say all this, because I realized that you can be both resourceful in developing your own skills, but also it is extremely important to develop your professional network. Here are a few tips I use in developing my network and what to look for in good co-workers:
- They are easy to get along with – your referral is no good if they can't get along with people. Often times I think we are just hired based on our personality. In my industry I've seen people get passed over just because they are very confrontational and always have to be right.
- They are good at their trade and humble – I love bringing along people who know how to do their job well and aren't arrogant about what they know. I genuinely enjoy being around smarter people, because I want to learn from them, and I hope they can learn a thing or two from me too.
- They like helping people and are willing to teach others – this tip goes along with tip #2, because arrogant people often times don't want to train you. They want to hoard all the knowledge to themselves, because they think this means job security.
- They trust you and you trust them – why would I refer someone who I don't trust?
- They want to see you and the projects you work on succeed – I'm looking for people who are proud of their work and take pride in what they do! These people are always willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the whole project succeeds. My buddy who I referred went through many project deadlines that he helped me with, and was a big reason for our overall success.
- LinkedIn is a big deal – I've been on LinkedIn for over seven years and I've just seen how much this community has exploded. I see how employers are using it to find good employees and are using it to search your network. It is completely different than Facebook in that it tells the story of the work you do. Put a lot of time and value into it! Market yourself and develop your LinkedIn network!
Through referring my co-worker to this new job I not only benefited myself by getting a referral bonus and the chance to get to work with him again, but I also helped him get into a good job. I've just been resourceful in recognizing the network I have around me, and how I might utilize them to have a mutual benefit.
I'd be interested to hear from our readers on whether you've ever gotten a referral bonus from a company before being hired on? What do you look for in giving a referral? What are you doing to develop your professional network?