Friday, October 22, 2010

Overselling Yourself

On the heels of my conundrum yesterday, a trailing thought, lost in a daydream, walked right into the front of my head. Has that ever happened to you? It didn’t hurt, don’t worry about me. And the thought is in good shape as well. Some of us are fortunate enough to play WoW and other games with their RL friends. Together they can form groups, raids, guilds, activities, premades, whatever. Others come in solo, but are able to latch on to guilds, sometimes for better other times for worse.

Then sometimes we require, or at the very least desire, change. For those who raid seriously or who PvP seriously, there is often a process whereby they are accepted into a new guild. It’s called an application process. Although I’ve never gone through it personally, I believe that applications are used by high-end guilds and not your average, ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill raiding/PvP guild. Classify it how you like, there are guilds that do and guilds that don’t.

In the real world we do similar actions when searching for a new job. There is usually some application process involved, followed by an interview, which results in either acceptance or rejection. When I was in college, I was taught that a great resume stood out from the rest. A potential employer will only look at for about 15 seconds or less. That’s it. That’s often how long you have to impress, to sell them on you as a candidate that they need to take a closer look at. So how does one accomplish that? I’m not going to give away my secrets (because my resume absolutely rocks the house). What I will say is that they need to be able to quickly see what you’re good at and what you achieved. Therefore, your information must be obvious.

With the need to impress, and the belief in many that they are capable of doing the job if only given the chance, some are led to exaggerate a little; some exaggerate a lot, although I’ve never been counted among those. They oversell themselves in the hopes that they can land the interview and then perform “well enough” to be considered for the job. If they don’t know something Mr. Exaggerate will say “just give it to me and I’ll get it done, sir.” While that may indeed work in some professions, it doesn’t work as well in a raid situation.

“Just throw me in the raid and I’ll DPS.”

Well of course you will, idiot, you’re a hunter. You are literally incapable of doing anything except DPS. Tell me something that will impress me, something to prove that you know what you are doing AND that you can do it better than the hunter I’ve got waiting in the sitting room flirting with the receptionist.

How would someone attempt to oversell themselves? They could make claims on their application of having reached certain damage output on a certain fight, but have no logs to back them up because their previous raid leader, in a fit of rage, deleted all the logs. How could the new guild verify the accuracy of the statement without taking that player for a trial run. But just like the “just give it to me and I’ll get it done, sir” guy, a trial run is what the person was seeking. This is an interview, in effect, a chance to prove himself. But in the attempt he opens himself up to ridicule if he doesn’t produce at the rate he claimed to. In the end, Mr. Exaggerate is rejected either because the guild had strict rules about presenting logs (which this guy could not), or was given the benefit of the doubt, offered a trial run, and performed miserably.

What happens when there is an interview process, and Mr. Exaggerate answers the questions but, according to the guild the answers are wrong. Out of desperation Mr. Exaggerate says that “according to all my theory-crafting, this has proven to be the optimal stat setup for my class/spec”. Once again, an oversell that’s difficult to prove. If Mr. Exaggerate doesn’t have the simulation data to present, it’s his word against the recruiting guild’s. And his attempt to oversell his knowledge is foiled once again.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that it’s incredibly difficult to oversell yourself to an organized, strict guild. Application processes tend, from what I’ve read, to challenge a player to prove his experience, skill and knowledge. Unable to do just that, the applicant won’t even get a sniff at a probationary period to prove himself.

In life we can use other intangible skills to get a job. Charisma, influential language, determination, short skirts or expensive suit (oh, people use what they’ve got, and I’ve known many a pretty lady use her body to influence stupid men to get a job before). We can give rehearsed answers to common interview questions. There are a lot of “tips and tricks” to a good interview – but one thing you’ll never see in any guide is “just be honest and be yourself”. No, it’s always about putting on a good show, because evidently employers are stupid and can be tricked. But an intelligent raid leader looking for a competent Holy Priest will have a hard time being duped by someone overselling themselves. Either they know what spells are optimal for fight X and encounter Z or they don’t. Either they know the mechanics of every phase of the LK fight or they don’t. And usually all that stuff gets flushed out in the application process.

In conclusion, I have come to believe that for those guilds with strict application processes, it’s nearly impossible to oversell yourself. Funny, because out in the real world, in places that pay you $60K a year, it’s far easier to trick your way into a job just by using some flattering words and coy misdirection in your conversations to keep on topics where you are strong and stay away from subjects you know little about.

I’ve never lied on a resume or in an interview. I’ve never lied to a RL just to get in either. But if I were given the choice of trying to dupe somebody, I would stay away from that guild who requires an application and go for the CFO position at Bank of America (who, btw, is a significant investor in ATVI).

What do you think? Is it possible to be accepted into a high-end guild by fudging your way through an application process by overselling your skills? Have you ever tried it? Shame on you if you did, but you can still admit it – it’s good for the soul and all.

Have an absolutely wonderful weekend. I’ll be working on my song still and planning the destruction of my employer, who laid me off yesterday. CURSE THEM!


Larísa said...

Oh dear. You've lost your job? :(
I hope your skills in writing apps will help you then.

About guild apps: yeah, I wouldn't recommend anyone to be dishonest. A lie will show every so fast. But actually I'm a bit like that in real life. I've been on both sides - looking for job as well as making interviews, hiring people. And I think honestly goes a long way too. If there's anything that would leave me cold, it would be someone who appeared to be flawless and lacked insight about his or her weaknesses, who lacked humbleness and was only surface. You can tell every so quickly if the replies are genuine or just tricks, something you have learned from reading rather from your own experience.

Gronthe said...

@ Larisa: Yep, lying on a wow guild app is near impossible to cover once you get into the raid - or before that, in an interview with an officer.

In RL interviews, the question and answer I hate most is:

Q: "What would you consider your greatest weakness?"

A: "I would say that my greatest weakness is that I'm a perfectionist. I can't ever seem to rest until the job is done and done right."

Rather, answer and say something like: "I tend to studder, and there are times when I cannot get a verbal response out quickly, but my knowledge is sound and I just need patience from the listeners as I strive to make my point." Speech impediment is a weakness, and it shows greater strength to admit to it than to give a fake weakness and turn it into a strength.

Larísa said...

Oh, fake weaknesses don't impress on me. Yada yada yada, lies!

Genuine one do, as long as you can talk about how you compensate or work with overcoming your weakness. Being mature and strong enough to realize and talk about those things is a big plus in my world.

One of my worst weaknesses is actually my lack of order on my desk and my genuine dislike for administrative tasks. I find it incredibly boring to sort and arrange things etc, but it's something that's a part of most jobs unfortunately.

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