In each case, he did the work. He looked at the careers of chefs he considers role models and figured out the path that would get him to where he wants to be at 45. Then we talked about some of the decisions he's making now: How instrumental is an undergraduate college degree to being where you want to be at 45? Not that instrumental. How instrumental is culinary degree? That's tricky. Some chefs have it; some chefs don't.
By asking these questions, he got a sense of what his career path needs to look like and the moves he needs to make now in the context of his larger career game.
Not everyone's career proceeds on a smooth trajectory. Careers can take unexpected twists and turns. How does game theory take into account career setbacks, or does it?
I'd argue that the better you plan, the fewer setbacks you ought to encounter. I don't think you're worse off because you had a plan. In fact, I think the work you've done to develop the plan ought to make you more aware of all of your options. If someone's career is a cork floating down a river, and all of a sudden their path gets blocked, they don't know what to do. But if someone has planned, when an option gets blocked, they have the ability to quickly switch gears and consider their other options.
People who apply game theory to their careers make better decisions in the first place and are better equipped to deal with disruptions along the way.
Can applying game theory to career management help a person avoid getting caught in a layoff?
The game theory approach is about helping you understand your competitive advantage as an employee-what do you have, and what do you offer that others don't? That is a much more useful thing to know if you want to try to avoid downsizing [than what you like and where you fit]. You can find ways to tell the story about what it is you offer the company that others don't. Just as that helps you interview for a job, it ought to help you hang onto a job. And, if you do the analysis and you find you have no competitive advantage and your labor is a commodity, then that ought to suggest that it's time to make some investments in yourself.
How does applying game theory give job seekers an edge in today's job market?
Just as you can use this game theory approach to shape the way you think about your career, you can also use it to understand what other people are looking for. When a company is looking to make a hire, they're looking for someone who can help them win in the marketplace. Game theory can help you convince that hiring company that you understand better than all the other folks competing for the job how to help them win.