Episode Number 67 - 05.20.11

What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired.

Learn secrets that will get you hired.

Angry Birds can help you land a job. What??? It’s true.

In addition to being the #1 paid app in the galaxy, the wildly popular game for smart phones, Ipads, PCs, Macs, etc., also contains job hunting nuggets of wisdom.

I recently connected with nationally recognized recruiter Skip Freeman, President & CEO of The HTW Group (HTW = Hire to Win), and author of the best-selling book, “HeadHunter Hiring Secrets.” We talked about the 2nd half, and one of its biggest challenges- unemployment. Skip being the generous sort, then offered to share a series of articles he’s written, “What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired.” Looking for work? Read on for Part 1.

P.S. Don’t worry if you don’t play Angry Birds, we’ve inserted a few short demonstration clips. But to see what all the fuss is about and download a version, click here.

Here to help you land your next gig.


PART 1 (The Pig’s Lair)

What in the world can “Angry Birds,” the ubiquitous, phenomenally popular game for hand held devices by Rovio Mobile, teach you about getting hired? You might be surprised to learn that the answer to this question is PLENTY!

“Angry Birds” just passed the 100 million downloads mark. If you have downloaded the game yourself you already know what all the “buzz” is about, and you may already be a “pig-slaughtering,” “slingshot-wielding” addict. (I must confess, I am!)

As discussed in an earlier blog in this series (“Is Hiring a Game? Yes, it is!”), usually, when we think of games, we think of an activity or event that is a diversion, sport or some other form of competitive entertainment. Based upon that definition, “Angry Birds” clearly qualifies as a game. But, as we’ve seen in previous blogs in this series, hiring is also a game.

To briefly review, according to game theory, a game is defined as an event or situation involving two or more players, in which each player may win or lose, based upon the decisions that they themselves—or others— make or fail to make. In addition, virtually all games have the following elements in common:

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

So back to “Angry Birds.” The principal object of the game is for the player to use the birds, fired with a slingshot, to “pop” all the pigs that are housed in structures made of stone, wood and ice. If the player is able to break through the structures and “pop” all of the pigs before using up all the birds, then he or she advances to the next level.

One of the many skills and strategies that Angry Birds can help us with (or provide us with a way to compensate) is our short-term memory ability (or generally, the lack thereof.)

How many times, for example, are we introduced to someone and just 15 seconds later we can’t remember their name? Or we hear a phone number and we can’t even remember 7 digits! Quite common for most of us, wouldn’t you agree?

As a job candidate, it’s quite commonplace for you to go into a company and meet half a dozen or more people during the day of interviews. And then what happens? One of them sees you in the hallway later and you can’t remember his or her name! Not so good, and certainly no way to make a good impression!

When we first start to play “Angry Birds” at any given level, we see the pig’s shelter and where the pigs are located within that shelter for two seconds. (The same amount of time it takes for someone to say, “Hi, I am Jim Smith.”) The screen then moves to the left, moving the pigs out of sight and bringing into view the bevy of bouncy, chirpy, flipping birds behind the slingshot.

I don’t know about you, but when I first started playing the game, I was not able to remember the layout of the pig’s lair? So I just started shooting birds willy-nilly which was ineffective.

I soon realized two things:

First, I needed to start remembering where the pigs were within their lair (i.e., working on my short-term memory skills) or figuring out a way to compensate. Our brain, like any muscle when exercised, gets stronger. Angry Birds provides a fun way to exercise and improve our short term memory which enhances our brand and, without question, improves our ability to effectively play the hiring game.

Secondly, Angry Birds does indeed give us “normal” humans a way to compensate for our lack of short-term memory. We can “pinch down” the screen and now see both the pig’s lair and the bevy of birds on one screen.

So when you have met six people at a company during an interview, you must be able to address them by name later in the day or you will have almost guaranteed your elimination from the hiring process (game). Thus, you must either improve your short term memory skills or compensate in some manner. For example, you can compensate by making sure you get each person’s business card and quickly jotting down on the card something that enables you to remember them. (Jim Smith – brown hair, tall, mustache, glasses.) Now, when Jim says “hello” to you in the hallway three hours later, you can remember his name and make a solid impression.

Think about this situation. You applied for a position online and the hiring company later calls you about the position—and you don’t even remember which position you applied for or the name of the company having the opening, let alone remembering anything specific and pertinent about the company itself! Again, not a very good way to make a good first impression.

Or you contacted a recruiter about an opening you saw advertised and he or she calls you back and you can’t remember why you called! This situation can quickly evolve into a distressing one. Let me give you an example, based upon my own experience just last week, of how disastrous this scenario can play out for a job candidate.

A person (I’ll just refer to as “Sam”) called my executive recruiting firm and left me this voice mail message:

“Skip, this is Sam. I am calling about the National Account Business Development Manager’s position. My phone number is…….”

When I called him back (1) I introduced myself, (2) I told him my firm’s name, (3) stated that I was returning his call (4) regarding the National Account Business Development Manager’s position. His immediate response:

“Tell me your name again, please?”

OK, I will give him the benefit of the doubt at this point. I may have caught him off guard and he didn’t hear my name.

We went on to speak about the position after which he asked,

“Now, what is the title of this position again?”

As a recruiter, it is my job to identify and qualify only the best professionals for my client so I am now beginning to question the mental agility of this particular potential candidate. I told him, again, the title of the position after which he asked,

“What is the name of your company again?”

After telling him that again, he concluded with,

“And how did you get my name?”

To which I replied,

“As I mentioned, I am returning your call. You called me. That is how I got your name.”

We are now up to four strikes and clearly this person has several short-term memory “challenges.” Not at all a good first impression for someone competing for a high-level position that will pay $100K plus. (Which is why one of my secrets in “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets for job seekers is to never answer the phone. Unless you have superior short-term memory skills, you must compensate. Let the call go into voice mail so that, when you retrieve the message, you can write down the pertinent facts in regard to who is calling and why. You can then review your notes in regard to the position you applied to before you call them back. (You are keeping records aren’t you?))

So, needless to say, I quickly excluded “Sam” from further consideration. (See the previous blog in this series entitled, “How do you get Hired? First Don’t Lose.”) Sam lost before he even got into the hiring game!

So, let’s circle back to the original question posed in this blog: What can “Angry Birds” teach you about getting hired? Among the many things it can teach you or help you further develop, is the all-important job-hunting and branding skill of having a good short-term memory. (Or showing you that you need to learn how to effectively compensate for weakness in this skill.) As a result, you will enhance your professional image, improve your brand and, if you are a job seeker, help you avoid getting eliminated from the hiring process. Add to all of that that “Angry Birds” is GREAT fun to play and you’ll benefit both personally and professionally! Not a bad deal any way you look at it!

Next week: What Angry Birds can Teach You About Getting Hired – Part 2 (Are you 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.

LinkedIn|Facebook|Twitter|Hire to Win|Headhunter Hiring Secrets


2 Responses to “What ‘Angry Birds’ Can Teach You About Getting Hired.”

  1. The Mayor May 23, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    Who knew you could learn something from “Angry Birds”

    Thanks for sharing this interview with Skip Freeman!

    Look forward to the next installment!

    aka The Mayor :-)

    • Doug May 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      Mayor … that’s what I thought. Who knew? Thanks for stopping by … and for weighing in. Next installment coming soon.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.