Add “Gamification” to Your Social Media Vocabulary (and life skills)

Who knew Big Data would invade and transform so much of our lives?  From Google Flu Trends to now algorithms that portend what kind of employee we’d make to how we might better engage with our company or organization. That’s right, employers are adopting “Moneyball”-style hiring approaches in their attempt to find the bright and shining employee among the haystack of other applicants, according to NY Times reporter Catherine Rampell. It’s the employer version of Match.com but it can mean a lot more–your career.

According to the article, one company, Knack, uses video games as a screening device.  Its “Wasabi Waiter” game has the applicant pretend to be a server at a sushi restaurant who must figure out what dishes to recommend. Ideally such games test how creative, cautious, adept at multitasking or easily distracted, among other attributes.

These games and tests are part of what experts and marketers of the job market call “work-force-analytics” software in the so-named “human-capital-allocation” market. Therefore, like the good carpenter, you want to “measure twice and cut once.”

Some labor and H.R. consultants are skeptical.  One said, “You are what you measure,” meaning that it can distort the kind of well-roundedness or even expertise that you’re looking to recruit.  Other such critics of sabermetics, the kind of data-driven approach Michael Lewis made famous in “Moneyball” about Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s and rise to stardom, take a different view.  Nobel economist Alvin Roth who just joined a video game company’s board warned that having a basketball team of 7-footers or 3-point stars doesn’t help if they don’t play well together. Hiring and interview processes have already stretched out in the last few years from 12 days in 2009 to 23 days in 2013, according to a firm that monitors these trends.  It’s not rocket science, then, to see that software developers see this as a profitable niche.

Why spend a lot of time interviewing, testing, conducting and evaluating personality tests or doing brainteasers, such as ” if you were a pizza-delivery guy, how  would you benefit from scissors?”  when you can administer a few games and make your decision?  “There’s trillions of dollars of human capital” in these transactions, according to M.I.T. labor expert Erik Brynjolfson, so there’s money to be made by shortening and  correlating data that can match game scores and successful hires.  Or can it?

If it means placing faster the 10 million Americans looking for jobs who are out of work, then it’s probably a good idea.  In the meantime, it might be a good idea to brush up on your video game skills, just in case…

Here’s the article in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/magazine/your-next-job-application-could-involve-a-video-game.html

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