Resumes Of Fury: How Your Job Search Is Like A Fighting Game

The job search is like a fighting game.  Yes, I dare compare the noble endeavor of sending out endless streams of resumes to Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters, Knights of Smash-Face, and whatever else is out there where buttons are mashed and pain is delivered.

Think about it.  You seek victory, while pursuing vague and at times poorly-worded motivations. You travel to strange locations, wear outfits you never would normally, and engage assorted people in what feels like sparring matches The only difference is you usually don't get two chances per encounter to win, you get one.  Also giant lizard ninjas don't spit poison on you as much.

Fighting Games teach us important truths about the job search.  Yes, without the benefit of alcohol that you can prove, I'm saying victory in the job search is like victory in a fighting game – you want to call on specific moves to win.

Any good fighting game player doesn't win by throwing a few punches and kicks that anyone can do.  They know how to use the characters they play – just as you need to know how to use your skills, experience, and other abilities to get a job.

Here's what you need in both a job search and to win a fighting game:

Combos: If you play/watch/put up with someone who plays fighting games, you know about combos.  If you're sheltered enough that you think BlazBlue is a  brand of eyeliner, then a quick summary is – a combo is a series of "unstoppable" moves that combine to do a lot of damage to an enemy.  Who, come to think of it, may be wearing eyeliner (I'm looking at you, Bridget, we're wise to your tricks).

When you're doing a job search, you want to use combos – a series of experiences, skills, and history that reinforce each other and let you break through to "you're hired."  Much as a fighting game isn't won by throwing a punch here or there, you're not going to get the job by tossing out an anecdote or answer now and then.  You're going to get that job by delivering one-two-or-more statements and references that make it impossible for someone not to hire you.

Let me give an example, and relate this tesosterone-laden metaphor to reality.  Let's say you're trying to get a job working in video games, doing art design.  You don't just talk about your art skills or game experience, you mention the art you did for a game (or a related subject), and that in turn relates to the way you got your art skills, and finally that ties into your love of art.  You don't just say "yeah, I worked on this game," you say "I worked on this game, it really leveraged my skills from University, and honestly was just what I was looking for."

A combo of experiences, personal discussion, and history that paints you as the person for the job.

Don't get over wordy (throw too many moves, since that can leave you tired or vulnerable), but pick precise ways to string together what you know, do, and say to make yourself unbeatable.  Like any good fighting game, use these when there's an opening to get maximum impact.

Special Moves: If you've played or watched any fighting games, most characters have a few unique, memorable moves that let people win.  Or in some cases just annoy their opponents.  Either way, via force or frustration, special moves are critical to winning in fighting games and in the job search.

On the job search you want to know your special moves; the special traits, skills, and ways of doing things that completely stand out and have powerful, unique effects.

Things like:

  • A unique example in your job history that demonstrates experience almost no one else would have.
  • A special achievement that shows off – or shows the gain of – powerful and rare skills.
  • An example that you can whip out or show that's a significant statement of your ability.

Your special moves are things to call on when you need to stand out, have an impact, and use the element of surprise.  Done at the right time, you'll have a very effective, highly individual impact – all the more so as your special moves will be very rare.

A Finishing Move: Ah, the fatality, finishing move, etc.  It's a major part of fighting games, where you deliver the final blow, at times in spectacular and messy fashion.  It's a signature move of the character, the player, or both that results in and/or seals the victory.

That's what you want lined up in your arsenal of job search techniques – a way, after you've gone on long enough, to deliver the final message "I am the right person for this job" in a way so unavoidable and final it makes it an unquestionable truth.  Then the person should explode in a shower of job offers or something.

Like any fighting game character, your finishing move should be a signature that screams "you" as well as sealing the deal.  A few examples:

  • You might have a witty way to phrase things to make you memorable, such as a tagline, catchphrase, or closing statement.
  • You may have a special trait, experience, or degree that makes you unavoidable as the hiring choice.
  • You might have something as a testimony to your skills that you can use and you bring out at the right time. 

Finding your finishing move is something of a trial and error, but it should:

  • Be very convincing.
  • Be unique to you (so it's memorable and creates memories)
  • Be uniquely expressed in a way appropriate to you.
  • Be hard to undermine, avoid, or discount.

So with these careful examples you can find a new way to see your job search.  It's an exciting adventure, where each statement and bullet point is an exciting move towards victory.

Go out, go to those interviews and FINISH THEM for victory in your fighting spirit of the world.  Or something.

Look, at this point I can't extend the metaphor any farther.

Steven Savage