Gamification in Recruiting

Applicant Tracking Systems For Small CompaniesRecruiters need gamification. No, I don’t mean they need to play more games. What they should do is use the concepts from games that make them so involving and constructive to better recruiting processes. But wait, does that lead to more game playing to understand what makes games involving and constructive? Probably, and that’s a fun prospect. Don’t play games with your recruiting efforts and start using Recruiteze today. Recruiteze is the number one applicant tracking systems for small companies and it’s free!

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is a cool-sounding term for taking concepts and actions from games, particularly video games, and applying them to the rest of life. We all know how involving video games can be, from personal experience or from hearing about other people’s experiences. But it’s more than grabbing and holding attention. Games also provide unique creativity encouragement and mental exercise. Like video games, gamification builds problem-solving skills, creativity, mental acuity, desire to achieve, and good old-fashioned interest.

It’s Been Around Forever

Gamification techniques have been all around us without us even realizing it. When airlines offer frequent flyer rewards, credit cards offer rewards for purchases, and companies use loyalty cards to earn free things for visiting, they are utilizing the goal-designation and pay-off aspect of gamification. This is very gratifying, sometimes even addictive, in gaming, and can prove very useful for businesses and recruiters.

Gamification was even used back in 1942 when the Daily Telegraph printed a crossword puzzle to secretly discover code breakers for the Bletchley Park code breaking division. People “came” for the fun and those with the skills wound up getting an invitation to a job while Bletchley Park sourced and selected candidates the easy way.

The Successes of Gamification

Many companies are proving gamification pays off for recruiting.

Tech services company, Bluewolf, uses gamification to bolster their marketing efforts by offering consultants rewards for completing tasks designated by the company that are all geared toward sharing information about the company. The technique has given Bluewolf a 68% increase in social traffic and 153% boom of blog contributions.

Google has employed more than one gamification technique for their recruiting efforts. In 2004, they created a billboard to attract only the top candidates for an engineer position by featuring a url in the form of a math problem. Curious and skilled mathematicians would work the problem and be the only people to find the website to apply to the job. The other has been a code writing competition called Google Code Jam that gets people to solve rounds of algorithmic puzzles for a chance to win prizes and get noticed by Google. Kind of like reindeer games. Google is clearly succeeding, so I think their tactics are working splendidly.

French postal service Formapost tackled employee retention issues with their Jeu Facteur Academy where potential candidates would play a game set in the life of a Formapost postal carrier. Candidates could feel what it would be like to deal with practical, day-in and day-out aspects of the job like getting to work on time and doing their postal duties to the management’s expectation. Enterprise Gamification Consultancy says, “the number of dropouts went from 25% down to 8%, plus the candidates were better informed and had better questions for the trainers.”

Umbelmania is a game created for Umbel that has coders playing a first-person fighter game where people fight by coding. When you win points, you get further along in the hiring process, helping recruiters effortlessly weed out candidates for a hard skill. It also gets interested candidates pumped about Umbel’s mission, which is to make data a visual experience. Umbel has been named one of the top places to work, so again, cred.

PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC)’s Hungarian division utilized a 12-day Facebook game called Multipoly to give candidates a chance to live the life inside their company. It was intended as an employee branding tool that became useful as a candidate selection aid. The Hungary division’s recruitment leader Noemi Biro said, “78% of students surveyed over the past four years said they wanted to work for PwC after completing the game. 92% indicated they had a more positive view of the firm. The game has also contributed to a significant increase in the number of job applicants.”

Many companies and entities also use gamification to provide ongoing training to employees. For instance, the Department of Defense uses games for initial and continuous training for projects that are too dangerous, complicated, or expensive for training exercises.

BunchBall says, “IHG needed to connect 900 hotel reps from 90 countries. With gamification, the company could improve knowledge of industry sectors targeted for meeting sales, increase meetings revenue and encourage cross-property and cross-geography collaboration and knowledge sharing.

‘None of these sales professionals are required to complete this training – they’re doing it to improve their knowledge of how to sell to specific types of customers. And yet, we’re finding that users are staying very engaged and are very motivated to attain Expert status,’ explained Ingrid Quimby-High, IHG’s director of meeting sales strategy. ‘We credit the gamification experience for a large part of that.”

The Arguments Against Gamification

Applicant Tracking Systems For Small CompaniesAnyone who has played video games or online games, knows that the gaming world is hit and miss. Some games captivate huge numbers of people and become household words to even people who don’t play because so many people are hooked while others just don’t ever take off. It is possible that your gamification tactic could end up being more irritating and off-putting than attractive.

Gamification is also best likely to give you a good ROI when it properly addresses your goals. It might be tempting to jump into creating a game for your retail store with a day-in-the-life feel, and it might be fun and it might help some. If you don’t have a clear problem to address, such as poor retention or less-than-stellar customer service, or a strategized vision of what to teach, instill, encourage, or test with your gamification, it may not do all it could and you could give up on it.

How to Address the Problems

To address the fun versus irritating issue, try one or more of the following:

  • Think of games you like
  • Keep it on the shorter side
  • Make sure things run smoothly
  • Make it creative
  • Give people options
  • Put your passion and/or your corporate culture into it

To address the goals issue, we present the following examples.

Nike created an athletic app that tracks fitness performance and helps users reach their fitness goals. This app helps them bolster their employer and consumer branding by providing a unique experience: encouraging users to reach their own goals rather than setting goals for them. Fortune says, “it currently boasts more than 28 million users who return regularly.”

Amex created a game with Badgeville to increase bookings. According to Fortune who shared info from Amex’s vice president of business services, they achieved a “7 percent increase in bookings with preferred airlines, a 12 percent jump in the number of travelers reserving their ticket with advanced purchase pricing breaks, and a 3 percent increase in hotel reservations booked at the same time as a flight.” Despite this improvement, she said, “We’re going to skeptical because we need to be.” The main takeaway here is to not jump onto the gamification bandwagon without strategizing.

Karl Kapp, who wrote Gamification of Learning and Instruction, suggests that any gamification initiative should tap into the addictive quality of games, i.e. the satisfaction of reaching goals and a desire to move on to another step. Most of this engagement also involves interacting with other people, whether through team-building or healthy competition.

The main point of gamification is that games foster our basic need for competition and success. Well-executed gaming strategies make accomplishment, learning, competition, team-building, and creativity not only easier but addictive.

Other Ways You Can Use Gamification Techniques

Recruiters might use gamification techniques to:

  • Reach clients’ gender equality and sustainability targets
  • Improve on-boarding procedures
  • Motivate themselves to reach their own goals
  • Encourage cooperation between recruiters and hiring managers

These are just some things. In reality, the sky is the limit. Any goal you want to reach can probably be achieved with gamification. So, play around with it, as long as you have a goal and get creative.


Gamification is taking over how businesses hire, train, sell, brand, and provide customer service. Recruiters can use it in many ways to improve their hiring and retention numbers. While it may not be 100% foolproof right now, it is here to stay and will only improve. Best of all, it is easy to implement. Check out gamification experts like Badgeville, Bunchball, and Games for Business.

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