Graduate job search: How gaming could help you land that dream role


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The Independent Online

Think that gaming and getting a graduate job couldn’t be more different? Well, you might need to think again as these two worlds are starting to interract.

Unlikely as it may sound, some graduate recruitment portals and employers are integrating game playing into the recruitment process.

“Corporations and organisations run themselves according to defined rules and frameworks,” says Davinder Singh, founder and CEO of GIUP, a company that produces skills-related games to be used in graduate recruitment, “and it’s not too much of a leap of imagination to construct virtual environments that are governed by certain rules that replicate the way corporations work.”

For example, this academic year, bank BNP Paribas ran two online games for potential new recruits. One was a coding-related exercise specifically for students interested in technology, and the other an adventure game where players encountered virtual bankers and clients online who guided them through finance-related challenges.

Leading accounting firm KPMG offered students “80 Days”, a game in which players competed to circumnavigate the world in a virtual hot air balloon in the quickest time, while tackling 10 challenges along the way.

Meanwhile, soon to be launched product ThisMe promises a platform where you can demonstrate your soft skills to employers through playing games online.

There are several potential advantages for employers in using games to recruit graduates. Initial expenses could be significant, but outsourcing some parts of the assessment process to games could slash recruitment costs in the long run.

Using games can also help employers attract and engage students in a market where there’s considerable competition for the best talent.

In particular, using games could help traditional graduate recruiters take on technology companies, startups, and entrepreneurship, all of which are becoming increasingly visible and viable options for graduates.

The gamification of graduate recruitment could be good for students too.

Recruitment games can be a helpful way to combine the process of applying for jobs with building the skills employers require.

Recent research suggests that graduates are not necessarily gaining these skills at university. A 2012 survey by consulting firm McKinsey found that while 72 per cent of education providers thought graduates were adequately prepared for work, only 42 per cent of employers did.

The makers of ThisMe claim that their product “makes it easy and enjoyable for candidates to learn and improve... and become better prepared for work.”

One of GIUP’s current suite of products, entitled “Robot Overlord”, is designed to develop teamwork and communication skills through what Singh describes as “a socially collaborative maze navigation game”. Games can also be tailored to enhance and test the specific skills a particular employer is looking for.

Singh thinks using games could also benefit applicants as he believes they’re fairer than traditional recruitment methods: “Instead of having someone spend two seconds on your CV and then chuck it in the bin, everyone could be given five, six, seven hours of game play, or even more. It enables everyone to showcase their talents.”

But by no means all graduate recruiters are convinced by the idea of using games as part of the graduate skills-building and recruitment process.

“You’d just make candidates jump through more hoops – for what?” says Diana Spoudeas, a graduate recruitment manager at global law firm Jones Day. “You’d get the ones who are coached to pass through hoops, but not necessarily the ones who are personable, enthusiastic, original and different. Candidates who shine on tests don’t necessarily do well at work.”

“We recruit through a personal letter with application form, interviews and our two-week vacation scheme. At the end of the day, it’s about understanding someone's personal motivation and seeing how candidates respond to the work of a lawyer, which we (and they) can only tell by meeting them and giving them real work to do.”

Whatever the theoretical pros and cons, gaming worked for student Wojciech Kowalczyk. Building and demonstrating his skills by getting involved with one of the BNP Paribas games helped him with his first steps on the investment banking career ladder.

“I think there should be more competitions on the market,” he says. “For the companies it could be a great source for potential hires, and for students a great way to check their knowledge in comparison to peers from all over the world.”

However, he doesn’t think that gaming will replace traditional candidate assessment methods any time soon: “Just recently I finished an internship with [investment bank] J.P. Morgan,” he says, “and I would say what really counted during my recruitment process was the experience I had gained with other [banks] rather than competitions I had taken part in.”

So if you’re looking for an internship or a graduate job, consider brushing up your gaming skills, but it sounds like you’ll have to keep polishing your CV and practising your handshake and small talk for a little while yet.

Hannah Langworth is the editor of The Gateway, the business and careers newspaper for students