Episode Number 68 - 05.23.11

What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired Part II

Where are YOU aiming.

It’s true. The uber-popular smart phone, tablet, Ipad & PC game ‘Angry Birds’ can teach us a thing or two about getting hired. Part 1 showed us that our short-term memory can help or hurt us, big-time.

Nationally recognized recruiter Skip Freeman, author of best-selling, Headhunter Hiring Secrets, and CEO of The HTW Group, has written a series entitled: “What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired.” Freeman is an expert on the DOs and DON’Ts for job seekers during the search and hiring process. In Part II, he explores breaking through the lair – the barriers companies set up to keep you out.



PART 2 (Are YOU the ‘Red Bird’?)

Buy it. Read it. Get Hired.

Those bouncy, chirpy, flipping birds . . . what’s got them going so and why do we care? The pigs have taken the birds’ eggs and are holding them in their lair, which is surrounded by various barriers to prevent entry. Our mission is to get the eggs back. To do so (or so it seems at first), we simply catapult the birds toward the pig’s lair with a slingshot, aiming to break down the barriers, “pop” the various pigs, get to the next level and ultimately rescue the eggs.

Let’s return to the question asked in Part 1 of this installment: What can the wildly popular online game “Angry Birds” (by Rovio Mobile) teach us about getting hired? As we have explored in previous blogs, hiring is in every sense of the word a game (read “Is Hiring a Game, Yes it Is!”), and, to review, all games have seven characteristics in common:

  • Payoffs
  • Players
  • Rules
  • Strategy
  • Uncertainty
  • Common knowledge
  • Uncommon knowledge

The ultimate objective (payoff) of “Angry Birds”? Get the eggs back (land the job!). Intermediate objectives? Break down the barriers, “pop” the pigs and get to the next level in the game (break through the company’s barriers aimed at keeping you out, secure the phone interview, land the first face-to-face interview, acquire subsequent interviews, get the offer and land the job).

The players in the game? The birds (job seekers) and the pigs (hiring influencers and decision makers), deeply and craftily secured within their lair (the company).

As the game begins, the pigs’ lair is shown for just two second before the screen moves from right to left, taking it out of sight and bringing the birds into view. This is actually part of the genius of “Angry Birds” and one of the reasons for its popularity . . . it challenges our short-term memory.

Short-term memory. Angry Birds or getting hired, you need it.

Short-term memory, by its very nature, is a weakness for most of us mere mortals. And, as previously explored (see Part 1 “The Pigs’ Lair), improving our short-term memory provides us with a strong, competitive advantage for enhancing our personal brand when we engage with people.


So, now we are ready to play and the first bevy of birds is set to go . . . three bouncing flipping red birds. The very first time we play the game, most of us generally will pull back the sling shot, let a red bird fly, sit back and watch what happens. The bird (job seeker) sails through the air, the screen moves from left to right, the lair (company) comes into view, the bird (job seeker) hits somewhere and “hopefully” we achieve a breakthrough by knocking down some of the barriers surrounding the lair (company), enabling us to find a way in and get to the pigs (influencers and decision makers). As you move through the various levels of the game, you will find that some of the pigs wear armor or crowns and are particularly difficult to get to—just like some of the hiring decision makers.

You? A haphazard red bird?

Now, think about this: What do most people do when they first decide to look for a new job? They “load” themselves into the “sling shot,” become a “red bird” and “fire” themselves off willy-nilly at a company by finding some posting online and sending in their résumé, hoping they will achieve a breakthrough and get an interview with the company. The reality is that the company has already set numerous barriers in place to prevent you from getting in and, in fact, their strategy is to find a way eliminate you from the game as quickly as possible and keep you from getting the job. (See “How do you get Hired? First, don’t lose!)

In subsequent blogs, we are going to explore ways to properly “launch” yourself at the companies and break through the barriers. For now, let’s just focus on the “red bird.”

As you progress through “Angry Birds,” you will find that there are several kinds of birds and not all birds are created equal. For the first nine levels of the game the only bird you encounter is the red bird and it has rather limited capabilities: It can fly through the air, hit a barrier and, depending upon where and how it hits, it may or may not break through the barrier(s) and enter the lair (company).

Hunting for a job? Which bird are you?

As the game progresses, though, you meet other birds—blue bird, yellow bird, white bird, black bird and boomerang bird—each possessing special qualities that enable them to more effectively break through the barriers, get into the lair and effectively get to the next level of the game.

What kind of a “bird” are you today? What special qualities do you have? If you remain just a “red bird” you will NOT win in today’s hiring game. Unfortunately, most people, at least in the initial stages of their job search, have all the characteristics of the “red bird,” “firing” themselves off willy-nilly into cyberspace (Internet online postings), hoping they are lucky enough to break down a barrier somewhere. As a matter of fact, one key reason why job searches take so long for some job seekers is because they remain a “red bird” throughout their entire search!

Let me conclude this week’s blog by asking you this: Are you just a “red bird”? Or do you, in fact, possess special qualities that help you stand out from the crowd? Special qualities that “brand” you as being different, better? All of us, in fact, have special qualities. So, as a job seeker (whether employed or unemployed) it is critical to become more than just a “red bird.”

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will show you how to become more than just the “red bird.” I will show you how to maximize—and demonstrate—your special, unique qualities so that you will indeed become the candidate of choice and ultimately get hired.

NEXT WEEK: Part 3: How to Become More than just the ‘Red Bird’


Skip Freeman is the president and CEO of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an executive search firm out of Atlanta. He is among the top recruiters in the nation, based on total candidate placement. His new book, Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed… Forever, was released early last year and has consistently been ranked in the top 100 on Amazon.com for job hunting. The book outlines the new rules of today’s hiring game, gives expert advice to job seekers on how best to use those rules to their advantage, applying winning tactics and proven strategies to overcome our unpredictable job market.

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