snakes and laddersYou can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation – Plato

Do you ever remember that film The Last Starfighter? It was a science fiction about a video game geek, stuck in a dead end small town life who finds that the space game which he has playing in the local video arcade has been placed there by aliens and is actually a recruitment device for an alien defense force. The lead character, Alex Rogan (AKA Beta Alex), is the best player of the game on the planet and this qualifies him for a rushed interview and immediate recruitment as a defense pilot in the Alien Nation’s intergalactic war, (with no life insurance benefits).

Farfetched right? Yes, we all know its just science fiction. But, as I watched the film as a child, I would never would have imagined that 30 year’s later, earth based companies would actually be using games in this way to find and recruit people for real. Yes, thanks to exciting new technological advances employers are treading carefully into the territory first introduced in the Last Starfighter. Some of the biggest brands in the world and some of the smallest, most innovative companies are building online games through which participants can be attracted to or recruited to their organizations.

Its definitely in its early stages – and there isn’t much data around on its effectiveness and usage – but ‘gamification‘ as it is known is predicted to be being used by over 70% of global 2,000 organizations in the next two years – that is according to Gartner. So, with this new gamification phenomenon set to transform the recruiting process, I thought it was time to take a serious first glance at the game based recruitment campaigns that are being used today.

1. Mymarriothotel

Being similar in nature to Farmville and Cityville, the Facebook recruitment game, My Marriot Hotel, is the Marriot Group’s initial foray into using gaming for recruitment. Players can install the app on Facebook and then they get to juggle all the responsibilities of a hotel kitchen manager in a virtual environment. In doing this, users get to learn all about the industry, and they also earn a range of virtual rewards which encourage them to continue with the game and also help to promote the hospitality industry. You can play the game in five languages, (English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Muslim), and it is meant to target more millennials in growth markets outside the US and attract them into the hospitality sector.

Having been wooed by the game, interested applicants can click on the ‘Do It For Real’ link and then they are taken to the Marriot Careers page.

2. Upstream

Upstream is a marketing technology company with offices in over forty countries and a partner for fortune 100 clients, so it’s a pretty big player. Upstream have created a game to attract and pinpoint potential Marketing Campaign Managers and they call the game The Challenge, which is their way of “finding the right people for this very demanding and highly strategic position. The Challenge consists of 7 missions, and lasts an hour. Each mission consists of a set of questions based around various aspects of marketing analysis. At the end of The Challenge you can invite others to take the challenge by sharing through social networks. Upstream can then select the cream of the candidates based on their performance in the game.

3. Citerus

Citerus is a Swedish software development company who were finding it increasingly hard to find programmers through traditional channels. They decided to gamify their recruitment process and they did this by organizing a coding contest – The Hackers’ Night Crazy Snake Edition – where people must design the best artificial intelligence snake. They invited people to participate via twitter, RSS and mailing lists. Within hours, they had hundreds of visitors and in the end they attracted 13 teams who came together to allow the artificial snake-intelligence compete on a virtual arena.

They attracted a lot of potential recruits to their firm with much less spend than their traditional marketing channels.

4. Uncle Grey

When Uncle Grey, the Danish agency of the year, found they were having problems hiring digital staff through traditional channels, they too began to use gamification to try and attract staff. They found that their target group of employees spent a lot of time playing online computer games, especially, Team Fortress 2. To target these employees, Uncle Grey contacted the best Fortress team players and negotiated a sponsorship deal with them so they would represent the agency when playing the game. They would become ambassadors for Uncle Grey and help them recruit talent while playing in the game. They would do this placing posters up in the game linking to the Uncle Grey Careers site and by adopting a game name which was a URL linking to the careers site. Using this approach they got 50 applications in the first week and found their new front end developer.

This is just a small sample of some of the gamification methods that are being deployed in the world of recruitment. While it is far from mainstream, I think that gamification is an opportunity for employers and organizations to connect with potential recruits in a far more engaging and stimulating way, which can yield superior results than more traditional means of online recruitment.

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