Job Seeking + Games = Error Code

May 29, 2024

I often joke that there are two places where you can solve most problems: Nordstrom and the library. My adoration for the library grew when I learned that in addition to the typical offerings of books and movies, our local library also allows (free!) access to the New York Times, giving us 24/7 ability to challenge our brain not just with the news, but with the GAMES!

Massive defeats of Connections and Wordle to my daughters are a frequent occurrence often causing more bruises than I care to admit. Despite the battle wounds, I do relish those precious moments of bonding time and I am always impressed by NYT’s game polish and panache in how they wove their slogan of “seeking the truth and helping people to understand the world…” to include games—even if that means coming to grips that my 16 and 11 year old daughters are quite more adept at solving word puzzles than I prove to be!

As someone who understands the bonding that can happen over games, I was intrigued when I learned that LinkedIn, a place to network and look for jobs, is now jumping on the bandwagon and offering 3 different games, themselves. “The mission of LinkedIn,” the company quotes, “is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

While gaming on Sundays is a great way to bond with my daughters, does gaming really have a place in a connected productivity and job searching platform?

LinkedIn is not Facebook

LinkedIn is known (for better or worse) as the go-to hub for networking, job hunting, and professional development. LinkedIn provides an oasis (of sorts) for individuals to meticulously curate their profiles, showcase their skills, experiences, and achievements with the intent of creating meaningful connections.

The integration of games immediately reminds of when Facebook feeds were suddenly abducted by Farmville notices and rampant updates when “friends” sent over generous gifts of pigs or plum trees to unwilling recipients every five minutes. I shudder thinking about LinkedIn devolving into a Facebook-esque environment, where users compete for high scores and flood their connections’ feeds with game-related updates. While friendly competition can be fun, LinkedIn has always been a site to focus on professionalism; I fear the introduction of games threatens to dilute that focus.

Additionally, there’s the unsettling prospect that hiring managers might begin to factor in a candidate’s gaming prowess when making hiring decisions. Imagine a scenario where two equally qualified candidates are vying for the same position, but one of them has a higher score in a LinkedIn game. Would that seemingly trivial metric sway the hiring manager’s decision? The goal posts for how a candidate’s profile crosses the “above the fold” view on LinkedIn constantly are changing (see my past article on the unique challenges of Getting Found on LinkedIn) and the notion of games and scores seems like yet another potential hurdle to already beleaguered job seekers.

Let’s also not forget the issue of productivity—a word used in LinkedIn’s very own mission statement. I’ll leave it at that.

Job Searching is Challenging Enough

Gaming tends to be a love it or hate it pastime—for some, games offer are nothing more than an idle void while others find great community and sense of belonging by smashing a Wordle in under 3 attempts. Introducing gaming is a tricky landscape for LinkedIn to carve—let’s hope that the introduction of games doesn’t mark the beginning of a slippery slope towards a more frivolous and less professional LinkedIn experience.

We’d love your thoughts on if these games broker a connection or a welcome respite in a stressful job market. Meanwhile, we’re always here to help and we’d love to be a resource for you on your career journey.

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