What is a virtual job simulation?
With everything that has happened over the last 24 months, the term virtual is pervasive. Whether it be coffee catch-ups across a screen or cocktails at the iPad instead of the bar, we are increasingly entangled with virtual experiences. Enter ‘Virtual Job Simulations'. What are they? Are they also a COVID-19 anomaly? Our answer is, in a word, no. Virtual job simulations are here to stay.
These simulations are the new talent tool used by major employers like JPMorgan Chase & Co, Walmart and BCG - taking the real-life work, interactions, and experiences of an employee at an organization and convey it through an online platform. By distilling the workplace experience into a series of hypothetical tasks structured according to real-life chronologies of events, anyone, anywhere, regardless of their background, education or skillset, can experience the workplace.
So, what does a virtual job simulation look like? At Forage, we keep it simple. Our partners select an area of the business they’d like to showcase, and from there, we build a series of tasks to form the program.
For example, a simulation focusing on risk advisory consulting might have four tasks structured as follows:
- You’ve received an email from the manager asking you to listen to a voicemail from the client and summarize the key points that need to be resolved.
- You now need to research the client’s request, summarize your findings into a document, and include recommended next steps.
- The manager has asked you to complete the financial modeling on the potential exposure of the client if they don’t take the recommended steps. To do this, she has provided you with an Excel template with the modeling formula already developed.
- You are then asked to consolidate the recommended next steps and financial modeling into a PowerPoint for the client.
This can be daunting for participants who haven't experienced the workplace. That's why every time they complete a task, they can see the answer the organization would want to see in real-life (also known as the 'model answer'). This enables participants to compare their work and learn directly from the organization.
The beauty of virtual job simulations is that they convey not only the tasks themselves but also the nature of the organization. Our simulations contain videos throughout each task from actual employees that introduce the program and take the participant through the tasks. By creating that holistic experience, participants can 'work' at an organization in a way that, while not real, feels real.
At Forage, we believe that anyone anywhere should be given the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe-space environment. That's why each of our simulations include, in addition to model answers, supporting materials that allow the participant to complete the work without needing to rely on external resources, such as background readings, templates, or pre-prepared models (like our example above). Virtual job simulations should not be an assessment tool, but rather an enablement tool that becomes the conduit to experiential preskilling and career discovery.
Why you need to know about virtual job simulations
Virtual job simulations are no replacement for real work. Nothing is. But the reality is that studying a degree is vastly different from actually performing in a role. Further, there are certain preconceptions about roles or careers that can lead to mismanaged expectations about the reality of the work. I can attest to this as someone who, quite unfortunately, thought my (now former) legal career would look like The West Wing.
When participants are trying to find their career path or enter the workforce - the more opportunities for experiential preskilling, the better. Not only does this create more empowered participants, but organizations themselves benefit from better-prepared and high-intent employees, whether they're early in their career, transitioning back to work, making a career change or simply keeping up with the changing nature of their role.
This is why an increasing number of major employers worldwide like Citi, SAP and AON are turning to virtual job simulations as their talent solution. And they're working - for reasons that include (but are not limited to):
- Inspiring talent by demystifying their workplace through interactive simulated tasks,
- Engaging with a steady stream of talent through digitally scalable, always on technology,
- Hiring diverse, high-intent candidates that are ready to do the work before they even start.
We've only scratched the surface on what virtual job simulations can do for employers. You can read more about them here.