If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the
game, the stakes, and the quitting time.
As the proverb above admonishes, you are wise to make an investment in understanding any game you are getting ready to play. Knowing the rules, the stakes, and the quitting time is useful because it helps prepare you to play, to form your strategy for the first few moves, and to evaluate your strategy's effectiveness as the game evolves. This is true for the career game, as well, although we offer a slightly revised proverb. Certainly rules, stakes, and quitting time are relevant in the career game. When it comes to getting yourself ready to play, however, the most important features of the game to study are information asymmetries, player incentives, and risk. These three factors together underpin the career game. Our first goal in this chapter is to outline a schema to help you build just such an understanding. Then our second goal is to describe how that effort can lead to the specific considerations players must entertain before making any moves: the conditions of the playing field, the actions a player needs to undertake to be ready to play, an assessment of the other players, and the time structure of the game.
PLAYER INCENTIVES, AND RISK
As we noted, an information asymmetry exists when one player knows something another doesn't. Asymmetries are a result of the information structure of a game and often can be leveraged to the knowledgeable player's advantage. Consequently, players who feel at a disadvantage are encouraged to take steps to learn what they must to level the playing field in terms of information. Take as an example a classic job search situation involving three players: an employer, a candidate, and a retained search firm. Each has information that might