Can Impressive Gaming Skills Help Land a Job?

Some game players worry about touting their 'World of Warcraft' interest on their résumés. Above, a 'Warcraft' exhibit at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany. Reuters
Some game players worry about touting their ‘World of Warcraft’ interest on their résumés. Above, a ‘Warcraft’ exhibit at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany. Reuters

Some Job Seekers Add Experiences on Role-Playing Platform to Résumés, LinkedIn

Warlock or druid?

A handful of job seekers are listing achievements in video games such as the role-playing platform “World of Warcraft” on their résumés or LinkedIn profiles, betting that virtual-world accomplishments will impress hiring managers in real life.

“World of Warcraft” players complete quests as warlocks, druids or other class of soldier and battle monsters in a fantasy world, recruiting other soldiers, training team members and developing strategies for missions. Prominent fans include Stephen Gillett, chief operating officer of Symantec Corp. SYMC +1.12% and a former chief information officer at Starbucks Corp. SBUX -0.23%

Some players say the game’s tasks aren’t that different from the duties of the modern office job.

That was the view of Heather Newman, who included her Warcraft experience on the résumé that helped land her current job as director of marketing and communications for the University of Michigan’s School of Information.

In the “Leisure/Volunteer Activities” section of her résumé, Ms. Newman noted that she has managed guilds of as many as 500 people and organized large-scale raids of 25 to 40 players to complete tasks for several hours four to five days a week. These tasks, she said, “directly apply to the kind of job I hold.”

Ms. Newman, 43 years old, said she knew some people wouldn’t be familiar with the game, but she wanted to highlight how her experience leading volunteers online showed her abilities as an effective communicator and manager in the workplace. Plus, she believed that administrators who make hiring decisions at the technology-focused school would view her game expertise as a sign she would fit with the culture.

“I knew that Heather could ‘talk geek’ and that she would get where many of our students were coming from,” said Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, dean of the U-M School of Information.

John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, an information-technology staffing division of the Robert Half recruiting firm, said he has seen few résumés that mention game skills. He added that his clients haven’t sought hires with game experience.

Nevertheless, Mr. Reed said video game experience could be a conversation-starter in an interview, although a hiring manager may wonder whether the candidate will be playing games in the office all day. He cautioned gamers to broach the topic “very subtly.”

Gamers’ ability to accomplish complex tasks across virtual teams could be seen as a plus for some companies.

Françoise LeGoues, the former vice president of innovation at International Business Machines Corp. IBM +0.97% , said gamers can thrive at firms like IBM, where employees must collaborate with colleagues anywhere in the world, often without having met in person.

“This capability to engage in strategy-building, team-building, knowledge-sharing and problem-solving remotely is really important,” said, Ms. LeGoues, currently vice president of transformation at the YAI Network of nonprofits.

As he searches for a full-time work, Don Spafford, a 30-year-old electronics engineer from San Antonio, lists his class and guild rank on his résumé along with his role leading raids in “World of Warcraft.” That experience, combined with his past job at Norwegian Cruise Lines and six years in the U.S. Navy, proves his abilities as a leader and communicator, he said.

“It’s a chance to stretch your leadership ability,” said Mr. Spafford, pointing to his experience heading teams of easily distracted virtual soldiers on raids. “Sometimes it’s like herding cats.”

Still, hiring managers haven’t shown much interest in his game experience, and he acknowledged that the videogame details may be landing his résumé in the reject pile.

In online forums, game players worry that touting their hobby will lead others to perceive them as lazy or socially awkward.

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SOURCE: Wall Street Journal – Adam Rubenfire