With "Tomb Raider" celebrating its 20th anniversary, along with a new release of the game for the PlayStation 4, what better time to discuss how it is both awesome and applicable to real life -- namely, the civilian job search.
Many military veterans find themselves with down time during their transition to the civilian world and, as a former video game writer, I recommend filling some of that time with game playing.
Doing so can help you maintain your sanity, and help you look at your situation differently.
When playing the "2013 Tomb Raider" and the more recent "Rise of the Tomb Raider," I was struck with four lessons from these games that relate to my success in the job market.
1. Sometimes, you'll be all by yourself.
Lara Croft sets off on an adventure with her companions, but is quickly separated from them. It becomes all about survival, and she can't rely on anyone but herself.
You're going out into the job market and, yes, you have a network of friends and former colleagues to call on. But not always. Sometimes, your network will just be too busy; sometimes, they will simply not want to help, for personal reasons; or maybe because you've been asking for too much help lately. Be prepared for that, and don't take it personally.
Don't feel that you have to rely on anyone, or that your success depends on them pulling you out of harm's way.
Do whatever you need to do to land that job (within reason). Work on resume building, expanding your network, and apply for jobs like crazy. Eventually, someone might come along and help you out -- especially if you're putting out good karma and helping others. But in the meantime, help yourself.
2. Look in the dark corners.
Lara Croft knows to look in the dark corners for treasure, supplies or a lurking bad guy.
You need to remember to look for jobs in less obvious places. Of course, you checked Monster.com, but did you ask all of your friends about any opportunities they might have heard of? Did you look on social media sites to see if people are mentioning openings at their companies? Have you been focused on a job such as IT technician, but not thought to expand that search to more generic IT jobs, or switch out "technician" with another keyword?
You never know where you might find that hidden treasure of a job, so look everywhere.
3. Upgrade your skills ASAP.
If your Lara Croft wants to be better at hunting or fighting, you sit down at the campfire and upgrade specific skill trees. But to be the best at hunting, you target those skills first. Or fighting, or whatever your preference is.
When you are applying for jobs, focus on which skill tree you want to upgrade/focus on. What story is your resume telling? If it's not telling a story, were there certain aspects of your last position that you could better highlight to fit the job you are applying for?
Maybe you don't have the skills now, but try looking at your target job and working backward. What skills and experience would that hiring manager likely want to see on your resume? Consider remote or in-person internships to add experience, or classes/certifications to add skills.
Max out your skill tree, but in a focused way so you can easily point out to a hiring manager why you are the perfect candidate for the job. And don't forget the Military.com skills translator!
4. Kick major butt.
At the end of the day, Lara Croft is just awesome and knows how to kick major butt. You have to struggle to survive in the job market. It comes easily for some of us, but for others it feels like you're fighting an ancient samurai who's five times bigger than you (as in the "2013 Tomb Raider").
Know that you'll have to roll up your sleeves and start throwing metaphorical punches so that mentally you're prepared for the struggle that finding a job can be.
Good luck, and enjoy the process! Don't feel guilty about playing video games in the meantime, because they help put your head in the right place.