Now, I know from experience that role-playing groups are quite common in workplaces – and not just where you’d expect them. For example, there was a fairly active group in the bank head office where I used to work and a friend of mine ran a group with fellow auto-mechanics. But while that is a worthy subject, it’s not the focus today.
As this is written, we are days away from New year’s day, a time where a lot of people contemplate the future and changes, such as a career shift or a whole new career.
I’ve had a long and varied career, spanning many fields and types of jobs. While I have mostly handled advertising and marketing jobs and writing, I’ve also on occasion been tasked with helping to evaluate candidates for jobs or projects. And that inevitably means that I’ve seen no small amount of CV’s, cover letters and applications in my time. While I could (and have) write at length on the do’s and don’ts of job applications, what interests me is that many of the things we roleplayers do are in fact very attractive qualities in the job market and I feel many of us have neglected using this to market ourselves.
For the TL;DR crowd you could skip to the final third about now-ish, but I highly recommend you stick with it and read all the way through.
Before getting to the meat of the matter, I will include some simple but absolutely vital advice for job-seekers.
Most people handle job applications quite clinically, simply stating work experience and applying for the job with little or no attempt to prove why they would be the ideal candidate. That will only lead to little or no interest from the prospective employer. When applying, you should sell yourself – your interest and passion. If you’re applying for something you don’t want to do, I can’t help you – apart from recommending that you really should not do that. This is your chance to get their interest and getting from being instantly discarded to the next step.
Alright! You’ve got their eye and they want to meet you face to face to evaluate you. I have no idea how many times I’ve been on both sides of this step. As an interviewer I have met some outstanding candidates that impressed and/or surprised me. I’ve also seen the stuff of legends awful ones. A tragic example is a large man that was clearly badly hung over and started to cry, a more comedic one was a man who wore sandals and had accidentally used a Stinking Cloud scroll on his feet before entering. On the other side, I have completely aced interviews and had some epic failures. I once left an interview after loudly arguing with one of the interviewers. I once tanked an interview on purpose because I got a very bad feeling from one of the interviewers. And then there are the interviews where you really put your heart and soul into it and do a great job and then get rejected. While those are truly, truly painful they are also great learning experiences even if it’s hard to see that at the time.
If there is one thing above all others that is important for a job interview, it’s preparation. Be ready for the standard questions and have good answers. If you’re asked about a weakness, do NOT fall into the trap of mentioning something that isn’t actually a weakness (“I get so caught up in work, that I just can’t stop”, “I’m such a perfectionist”… you’d be surprised how many people try this approach). Name an actual weakness that you’re working on. It shows motivation and honesty. Always have examples ready – instead of just counting your strengths, explain them. If you have actual numbers that prove your successes, great. Avoid salary discussions like the plague. Prepare questions for the interviewers, that always impresses. And for all that’s holy, study the company. Too many times I’ve seen people who genuinely had no clue what they were applying for or what the company did. I’ve even been that guy once, when I was desperate and really needed the money.
Here’s the thing about job interviews: They’re not really about your experience, education or qualifications. They’re about you. The prospective employer already knows what you’ve done and what you know. What he doesn’t know is you. This is your time to shine and make it clear that in a group of equally capable people, you’re still the most attractive option.
Let’s say you’ve impressed and get a second interview. All the same rules apply but even more so. The prepared candidate is the one that leaves the biggest footprint. Here’s also where salary discussion may come into play and if you’re being interviewed, try as hard as you possibly can not to be the one to blink.
OK, but what do RPG’s have to do with this?
Rejoice, TL;DR folks, for you have reached the promised land! As mentioned at the start, many of the things we do casually and have effectively become second nature for us players are in fact highly sought after and attractive qualities in the workplace.
We are solution-oriented and goal-focused. The whole game revolves around problem solving, whether a set mission or goal, in the best way possible. Generally there are several ways to do this, and we discuss how to solve every problem but at the same time we have to be prepared for unexpected outcomes or problems and solve those issues as they come up. And rare is the player that just gives up when there is trouble.
We have to think creatively, both individually and as group members. Every player has to focus on their abilities and role, but also be mindful of their role within the group and be ready to assist when there is trouble. The game is by its very nature highly collaborative – you have to be a team player. You must function as a team and solve internal squabbles. When a group is dysfunctional and doesn’t work together there are bad consequences – just like in the workplace. There is always a plethora of options available at every turn (which spell to cast, which weapon to choose, how should I use my points?) and we have to find the best solution within the framework that is set – but good ideas and creativity are rewarded. Discovering a particularly useful mix of abilities for instance.
We have to have empathy. We are quite literally playing out the life of a separate person (even if most characters contain at least a grain or two of their players) with different values, goals and experiences. We also entirely govern that character’s interactions with the world and people they meet. We have to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and make sense of things that are different from our own experiences.
In short, all of those qualities and many, many more that we all possess, or at least should possess, are very desirable and sought after in the modern workplace environment. But let’s not kid ourselves either. While this is pretty much the golden age of the geek, nerd or poindexter, a lot of people still have prejudices for us and consider our hobby strange. If you want to play it safe then mention these qualities and that they play a large role in your private life but disguise where they come from. If pressed (you shouldn’t be, but you never know), answer confidently that you’re a gamer. These days that’s acceptable in most places and if you get the vibe it isn’t, why would you want to work there?
Simply put, what most companies are looking for today isn’t necessarily the person that has the most experience or education, but the one that has the most to offer as a person. In my HR experience, us roleplayers fit that description better than most.