Monday, October 03, 2011

Job Slayer Rules: How to Gamify Job Hunting

     In my last post, I wrote about how the time was right for gamifying job hunting and how two fellow bloggers, Brooke Allen and Jon Loomer, had recent written about the subject in separate posts.  Even before I wrote that post, I had been thinking a lot about what the essence of a Job Slaying game should be.

    My goal is to create a game that is both supportive and transformative.  The game would need to support the job hunting process as well as transform the way people think about jobs and work.  (Note that the game I've designed is heavily influenced by the rules for Jane McGonigal's game SuperBetter as published in her blog and Brooke Allen's No Shortage of Work philosophy.  I have also gotten valuable insights from Job Slayers, Jon Loomer, Dylan Holmes among others.)  With that said, here we go.

     At its core, the game should emphasize the following five game mechanics:

     1.) Recruiting allies.  Having a strong social support network will help bolster Job Slayers as they pursue their quest and face inevitable set backs.  Therefore, folks who are out of work first and foremost need to identify a go-to team of people who can help then track their progress and keep on track, boost morale, and think outside the box about what they want out of their next jobs and how to get it. 

     2.) Start off with basic quests to build confidence and momentum.  Beginning Job Slayers are often overwhelmed by what one job seeker has called a crazy mish-mash of online classifieds, social networks, company websites, and tips that you find by Googling.  Like any great movie or book, a great game has to have a great beginning which means that early tasks should be highly structured, be easy to navigate, and generate positive feedback and emotions early and often.

     3.) Get the bad guys before they get you.  Being unemployed and searching for a job takes an enormous amount of emotional and psychological energy.  There are a lot of things out there that can sap a Job Slayer's strength from doubts and busy work to false friends and outright rejection.  It's important for job hunters to recognize these bad guys and develop strategies for keeping them at bay.

     4.) Identify and use power-ups.  Even with the bad guys under control, job hunting is hard work with a lot of repetition and no visible progress until a job offer is in hand.  To keep sane and health, job seekers need to power up.  It's no accident that three of Jon Loomer's 10 Steps to Jobless Survival involve power ups:

#4. Set aside time to relax,
#5. Find a physical release (Get Out of the House!)
#6. Do stuff that makes you feel good, and don't feel guilt about it

Everyone looking for a job needs to know what their power ups are and use them often. In Jane McGonigal's game SuperBetter, players make a list of "other goals to pursue and other rewarding activities to undertake along the way [to recovering from illness]."  Among other things, Job Slayer power-ups can be the other goals to pursue along the way to a new job.

     5.)  Create a larger community.  As in any good MMORPG, Jobs Slayers eventually move from soloing to group quests, guild membership and other team-based activities.  These activities help players feel like they are connected to something bigger than themselves, to something epic.  The Job Slayer community is where the game becomes transformative.  Brooke Allen explains on his website No Shortage of Work:
"If you go too long without working, you will get out of the habit, and your skills will go stale. If you concentrate on finding work, you will find it is all around you. Pick the work that best improves your skills, and soon people will be bidding for your time."
Within the Job Slayer community, job hunters can find productive work teaching and learning new skills, bartering services, and even finding project or contract work. As the skills of people in the community improves, employers and recruiters will be knocking on the door looking for their next Job Slayer.

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