Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Soft Skills and Video Games

The video above demonstrates a hard skill that I possess. Now, I do not mean hard, as in difficult, ninja shirt fold is actually easy with some practice, I mean hard as in limited in use. Ninja shirt folding is a skill that can only be applied to folding shirts and maybe some other garments. While being able to fold shirts quickly would be handy for a, say, merchandise manager, it definitely would not be helpful at all for a plumber or project manager.

Soft skills are the opposite of hard skills. They are skills that are extremely useful no matter what job you are doing. In fact, another name for them is "transferable skills". These include: leadership skills, self-motivation, attention to detail, etc.

Surprisingly, I've found that video games are great for helping people develop many soft skills. Video games have already been shown to improve other skills, such as spatial visualization and navigation, so why not communication, foresight, and learning from mistakes?

Of course, you'll get things like short attention span, lack of focus and procrastination along with it, but if you are able to keep those things under check then you will come out ahead with a decent set of skills that you can back up with examples.

For instance, teamwork and team management is usually a biggie for manager positions. If you have ever been a raid in WOW or worked with other survivors in Left 4 Dead, then you have probably exercised those skills for countless hours.

If you took the time to think about the games you enjoy frequently, you will start to recognize all the little things that makes the difference between a good player and a poor one. And if you are able to nail down these skills with fancy business words, then you are certainly able to impress others, both in your application and one the job.

Now, I'm not saying put video games down in your resumes and cover letters. Make sure that the situation is appropriate and always back up your statements with "real" work experience anecdotes that can be confirmed by your references. At the same time, if the job is right or if an interview is going well and seems informal enough, you can use video games as an example to buff up your skills. Just make sure you take the time to explain it well and avoid leaving things to inference.

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