Speed Up My Search

Agile Story Points for Job Search

If you are an Agile purist, you may want to avert your eyes. I know some people believe there’s only one right way to do Agile. They find other methods ridiculous. Speed Up My Search doesn’t claim to teach the full Agile Framework to job seekers since they are usually solo teams. However, we do use many of the concepts within our structure.

For example, we encourage them to assign story points or priority values to their tasks. For a solo team, traditional methods like planning poker aren’t feasible. This makes point assignments challenging. For those who have no clue what a story point is when they start, it’s virtually impossible.

To help make it easier, I built this quick tool below. If you have experience working in an Agile environment and have participated in the process of assigning story points, I’d love to know what you think of it.

We use Trello for search management tracking. Trello is an Atlassian product, the makers of Jira. Trello boards support both story points and priority rankings from 1 to 5. Our Priority Valuation Tool below was designed to help job seekers prioritize their tasks bases on urgency, importance, duration, complexity, and dread factors.

To try it, think of a task for today. Then click the answers that best describe your task. Only the first 5 are required for a point value to appear.

Ranking and Point Valuations:

On our Search Management Trello Boards allow you to set Card Priorities (1 – 5; 1 is highest), or if you prefer you can assign Story Point values using the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34

Each answer in the questions above has a value. These are appropriately weighted to help you prioritize accurately and consistently. Below are explanations of how each one factors into the task calculations.

How Urgent and Important is it?

Based on the Eisenhower principle, which was popularized by Steven Covey in the 7 Habits of Successful People, we should prioritize tasks that are Urgent and Important. The longer you procrastinate doing these tasks, the more stress they hold over you and the less productive you become.

In the calculations above, the task urgency holds the greatest weight in the overall priority ranking assigned to a task. That value is followed closely by the value assigned to the importance of that task.

How long will it take?

Agile purists don’t assign time values to story points. However, we believe that to help individual maintain in improve their daily velocity, it really should be considered. Time valuations make it easier to accommodate last-minute schedule changes.

For example, interview cancellations or technical issues don’t have to stop your momentum. Simply remove that 21-point task from your planner, move it back to your backlog, and easily replace it with another 21-point task. This ensures you still have enough time and energy to get it done to maintain your normal daily velocity.

How Challenging is it?

Are there a lot of knowns unknowns? i.e. actions you know you will need to do to complete the task and you know that you don’t yet know how to do them. What’s the range of time you think it will take you to learn it? It might be easy and only take 5 minutes, but it could get very involved and take 3 hours. This factors into the challenge factor.

How much cognitive engagement, or mental challenge is involved? Data entry tasks require roughly zero mental challenge, but entering data with multiple dependencies which are conditional on external, variable data will take more focus and higher concentration, making this task more challenging.

How much are you Dreading it?

Adding a ‘dread factor’ to the valuation process encourages you to complete important tasks you’d rather avoid. Regardless of how easy or complex the task is, if you don’t want to do it, it’s hard to started.

The reward of more points will make you feel better about getting that task done sooner. It justifies taking action on it now, which then initiates momentum for the rest of the day. You’ll get more done and improve your daily velocity to levels you didn’t know you could reach!

That’s why adding a dread rating is so valuable. If you want to get more done, do the things you don’t want to do first and when you look back at the end of the day you’ll be amazed by the size of the pile marked, “Complete”.

Did you commit to doing this today?

Your integrity and commitment directly impact your success in all areas of life. If you committed to getting something done today, regardless of whether that commitment was made to someone else, or just to yourself, you MUST honor your commitment. By selecting “Yes” in response to this question, the task is automatically given a Top Priority ranking, and the full 34 point Fibonacci score, ignoring all other factors since they cannot possibly impact your career as negatively as breaking a commitment will do.

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