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What Is a Virtual Job Simulation?

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Though a college education can help you land a job, it’s not the only thing recruiters and hiring managers look for. More companies are using skills-based hiring to assess candidates, prioritizing skills over formal education.

A survey by Test Gorilla found that 76% of employers use skills-based hiring to identify and recruit new talent they may not have found using more traditional talent identification methods. What’s more, the same survey found that 72% of employees hired using a skills-based method were happy in the job, compared to approximately 63% who weren’t hired that way.

But for college students and new grads, demonstrating they already have the skills employers are looking for can be difficult. Unless they completed an internship (or three), their application may not stand out in a competitive, skills-based hiring job market.

Fortunately, completing a virtual job simulation (or three!) can help job seekers demonstrate they have the skills employers want.

What Is a Job Simulation?

You may experience a type of career simulation as part of the interview process. This often takes the form of a virtual skills test or technical assessment, but it can also be a case study interview. Companies conduct these simulations to see whether or not you have the skills you claim to have and how you use them.

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The other kind of virtual job simulation is similar to these hiring assessments in that it’s  a way to demonstrate you’ve got the skills to get the job done. However, these virtual job simulations are done long before you apply for the role. 

In this version, you complete a series of tasks that are very similar to what you’d do on the job. And unlike in a job interview, if you make a mistake in this virtual job simulation, that’s OK. The whole point is for you to learn and grow your skill set and then talk about those skills during the interview.

>>MORE: New Collar Jobs: Why Companies Are Prioritizing Skills Over School

Is a Virtual Job Simulation the Same as an Internship?

No. Virtual job simulations are different from internships — even virtual internships.

A virtual job simulation consists of one or more tasks you complete on your own schedule. It’s a small taste of what it’s like to do the job. An internship — whether in-person or virtual —  is a much larger scope and more involved. In general, you work as an intern every day for several weeks, months, and sometimes years. The schedule is almost always decided for you, with employers making the call on when to offer the internship, if it’s full or part-time, and how long it lasts.

That said, virtual job simulations and internships are similar in that you perform many of the tasks you’d complete as an employee and learn more about the career path and company.

Why Should I Do a Virtual Job Simulation?

There are three reasons why you should do a virtual job simulation, all of which can help you with your career planning and job search.

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Our partner companies can see when you’ve completed their virtual job simulation and that could give your application a boost.

1. Helps Your Application Stand Out

First, completing a virtual job simulation can help your application stand out, especially if you think or know the employer uses skills-based hiring. While using the STAR method to explain how you’ll use your skills on the job can help you during the interview, you need to have the skills in the first place.

When you complete a virtual job simulation, you’ll be able to talk about the specific skills you used and learned. This will include your hard skills, like coding, working with spreadsheets, and forecasting. But many simulations also allow you to use and build your soft skills, like presenting and problem-solving.

>>MORE:  What Are Transferable Skills? Definition and Examples

2. Test Drive a Career

One of the fantastic things about an internship is that you get to immerse yourself in the job, the career path, and the company. During that time, you may discover that this is what you want to do after graduation. Or you might find that this is not the career for you!

Completing a virtual job simulation is also a fantastic way to “test-drive” a career and see if you want to go forward with an internship or job. However, a virtual job simulation requires less time than an internship. Instead of committing to eight or twelve weeks — or longer — to complete an internship, a virtual job simulation only requires a few hours of your time.

That’s not to say a virtual job simulation isn’t challenging. It is! You’ll take part in real-world tasks and that employees encounter daily and grow your skills when you complete them.

3. Low Barrier to Entry

Landing an internship takes a lot of work. You have to fill out the application, interview (possibly more than once), maybe participate in a superday, and then, hopefully, be selected for the program.

>>MORE: Ultimate Guide to Internship Application Deadlines and Open Dates

Virtual job simulations generally don’t have a prerequisite or application process. They’re open to anyone and everyone, and you can usually enroll in any simulation you want. That said, some are more advanced than others, so already having some basic knowledge of the topic may be helpful.

What Will I Learn in a Virtual Job Simulation?

That depends on the simulation.

Banking and financial services job simulations let you explore careers in commercial banking, investment banking, or asset management. The specific skills you learn depend on which job simulation you complete, but they will be the kinds of skills you’ll use in that line of work.

For example, in a commercial banking job simulation, you might improve your accounting and spreadsheet skills by working with a cash flow statement or learning how to structure a deal. But in an investment banking job simulation, you may learn how to identify a merger and acquisition target, then prepare a discounted cash flow valuation. 

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How Long Will a Virtual Job Simulation Take?

That depends on you!

Every virtual job simulation on Forage includes an estimated time frame of how long the entire simulation will take to complete, though your mileage may vary. And that’s the beauty of a virtual job simulation. Though the estimate may say it takes “between 5 and 7 hours to complete” you can spend as much time on each task as you like. If it takes you more or less time to get through the entire simulation, that’s totally OK!

And because there are no due dates or set schedules, you can complete the simulation whenever and wherever works best for you.

Virtual Job Simulations: The Key to Unlocking Your Career

Like everything about your job search, there are no guarantees that completing a virtual job simulation will ensure you get the job. But, completing the tasks can help you build the confidence you need to talk up your skills in your cover letter, on your resume, and in the interview. And with the shift toward skills-based hiring, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition.

Check out all of Forage’s virtual job simulations and get career-ready!

Image credit: Canva

Rachel Pelta is the Head Writer at Forage. Previously, she was a Content Specialist at FlexJobs, writing articles for job seekers and employers. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, The Ladders, MSN, and Money Talks News.

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