Gone are the days when the term “gamer” brought to mind a greasy-haired loner hunched before a screen in his parents’ basement. Today, nerds and geeks of all genders can be proud to embrace the label, whether they prefer a quick game of Candy Crush or an hour-long raid in World of Warcraft. Video games are a fun diversion, and you might even spot some parallels between your game and real life (besides the protagonist’s stunning good looks, of course). Maybe you can even bring some lessons from the game into, say, your job search.
Here are seven lessons from video games that can help you in your job search.
Talk to everyone
Video game non-player characters, or NPCs, usually have some interesting things to say. Talk to one of the city guards, and you might find out that he used to be an adventurer. And that innkeeper? She has a tip that will start you on a quest with a huge reward.
While you may not get a “Quest Journal updated!” notice in real life, you never know when someone will have a career opportunity for you. So let your network know that you’re looking. Someone will probably be grateful that you just cut their candidate search time in half!
There’s no single path to the goal
Many games give you different ways to win – play as a mage instead of a fighter, find a different solution to a puzzle, or even make different choices throughout the story to get a unique ending. It’s very likely that you and some friends can play the same game, but end up with vastly different experiences.
Your own life, however, outshines even the most customizable game. With so many choices to make every day, your career can look however you want it to. So what if everyone seems to be aiming for the “CEO” achievement? If you’re perfectly happy forging armour – or doing other work with your hands – and it lets you do what you want outside of work, that’s success in my book.
Don’t discount the smaller companies
When I was a recent grad, my peers would always get oohs and aahs when they announced the big-name company that just hired them. After all, which would get you more excited upon hearing: Hershey Canada, or Unknown & Sons Company?
But a recognizable name does not necessarily mean a better experience, when it comes to recruiters or game publishers. If you can find a small business with a culture that suits you, it can be immensely rewarding. And indie games can earn great sales and acclaim. Just think of Rocket League from indie studio Psyonix. This game, which plays like soccer but with rocket-powered cars, has sold over 10.5 million copies and is an officially sponsored eSport in the Electronic Sports League. Talk about a win for the underdogs!
Timing is everything
In some video games, timing is key. Rhythm and fighting games are a couple genres that come to mind: whether you’re dodging a bullet or laying down some sick beats, hitting the controller button at exactly the right moment can make all the difference.
The same is true in job searching. We’ve done some research on this for you: There are more postings available at certain times of the year, and certain days of the week are better to apply. Get timing on your side to give yourself the best shot at your dream job.
A good story can stand out
Venture into gaming forums, and you might stumble upon the never-ending debate of what constitutes a “game.” For example, “walking simulators” are less about game mechanics or action than about – you guessed it – walking and experiencing the atmosphere. So what brings in the fans? The story! Many of these games, such as To The Moon, Dear Esther, and Gone Home, are emotional and thought-provoking, with many gaining critical acclaim despite having very little interactivity. The writing and characters alone can leave an impression that will stay with you long after the closing credits.
So use this method to your advantage in your job search. Even before that, create a narrative in your resume to catch recruiters’ attention – after all, they only spend an average of ten seconds on each resume.
Slip into a third-person view
Take a second now and look straight ahead. Do you see the back of your head? No? Great, you’ve got a first-person view of your own life. If you answered yes, is it possible you’re playing a video game and just didn’t realise it?
Many games let you switch between first-person (looking through your character’s eyes) and third-person (like watching over their shoulder). First-person is usually considered more immersive, because it’s closer to what we experience in real life. But when you’re trying to sell yourself to a potential employer, it might help to take a step back and see what others see (and I don’t just mean the back of your head). What can you bring to the table that will benefit them? That’s what the interviewer wants to know.
Games are fun
That’s why we play them! If you didn’t have to worry about your future or finances, would you rather be playing video games or preparing job applications? I’m guessing you, like me, would choose the former.
Why not make the job search less of a drag by gamifying it? In other words, turn it into a game by giving yourself points for every quality application you submit. You can use a free tool like Habitica to set up your tasks and rewards, or go old-school pen and paper to keep track of your progress.
So put aside your game controller for just a few hours – it’s time to take these lessons from the virtual world and “level up” your job search!
– Follow Workopolis on Twitter
– Sign up for the Workopolis Weekly newsletter
– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast