e Tru Files
@BillBoorman and Martin Lee
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ATTENDEES BIG IDEAS
USING GAMING TACTICS
TO ATTRACT TOP TALENT.
IT’S NOT NEARLY AS
CRAZY AS IT SOUNDS.
LADDERING AND REWARDS
Gamification in the recruiting industry isn’t really about building
gaming apps (though it’s been done). Rather, more and more
recruiters are interested in how they can borrow user experience
tactics from gaming to create better incentives, entertainment
First a look at why gaming’s so red-hot: Gaming is the most popular online activity. In 2012,
consumers spent over $20 billion on gaming in the US alone.1 A study by mega-publisher
Random House found 56 percent of smartphone users spent over 30 minutes playing a phone-based
game per day.2 Contrary to popular opinion, women are also avid users, making up
45 percent of all gamers.3 And far from being an anti-social activity, 62 percent of gamers say
they play games with others, either in-person or online.
All this matters to recruiters because it is shaping the way individuals expect to consume
content online—particularly the under-30 crowd, where gaming is much more prevalent.
Let’s review some of the gaming tactics businesses are using to make digital content more
entertaining and memorable.
LADDERING AND REWARDS
Knowing how difficult it is to acquire new customers, many digital
content sites are using laddering—a well-established gaming
tactic—to win customers’ attention and allegiance over time.
For example, Glassdoor.com gives users a simple task to complete (e.g. download an eBook)
to “unlock” the first level of content on its site. With each visit, a new step on the ladder will
present itself, and at each step the customer unlocks a higher level of access or reward.
The principle works because consumers are hesitant to give over too much personal
information all at once, but are open to a more slow-to-unfold relationship. Using a methodical
progression—and rewarding users at each step—digital content companies like Glassdoor.com
build confidence and trust with customers.
Laddering and rewards also work well to document stages in the recruitment and application
process. Companies like CERN and Sodexo use a laddering process to signal back to applicants
exactly where their application is in the hiring cycle. Given how frustrated job candidates feel
when they hear only radio-silence after submitting an application, a clearly communicated
application ladder, including visual cues to show exactly where in the process a particular
application is, helps job candidates feel they’ve not been forgotten. (And it cuts down on
queries from applicants.)
Want to create the ultimate reward? Consider whether your target
market would be interested in some form of digital currency—the
ultimate reward for gamers.
For example, three years ago a technology company realized it had to become much wilier to
attract top-tier students from elite universities (i.e. the same students every company is vying
to hire). Recruiters at this company realized students spent a lot of time on Facebook, and in
particular, playing Facebook games like FarmVille, CityVille and Bejeweled.
The company began by targeting these students with Facebook ads. They offered to give
students a FarmVille cow in exchange for joining the company’s talent community. The cow (for
the uninitiated) had major social value because it let players sow the field with corn and earn
more points. And the hiring company spent a fraction of the price on a digital cow than it would
spend on a hokey giveaway like a stress ball or coffee mug. What’s more, the click-through rate
on the offer was extremely high because it was so unusual.
In the next stage of the ladder, the company hired three interns to play online games with these
students and get to know them more closely.
By the time the company arrived on campus for a career event, they had an established, warm
relationship with students.
Hand-in-hand with laddering and rewards, companies should
consider using some type of recognition methodology—particularly
for any site that includes a directory or community component.
For example, under a user’s profile you may show years of membership, number of connections,
level achieved, and even a special color or symbol denoting a user’s status on the site. It’s a
clear way to define the rules of the site, and show how users are successful using it.
One recognition tactic used pervasively in gaming is badges—and the idea is quickly gaining
acceptance in the recruiting space. Badge icons are now used extensively by training and
development organizations to offer a fast and easy visual verification of skills.
WONDERING HOW BADGES WORK?
If you are interested in badges
as a way to recognize skills and
areas of expertise within your
organization or beyond,
Open Badges is fast-becoming
a pace-setter in the field.
Open Badges is a free program
offered by Mozilla that relies on
an open technical standard any
organization can use to create,
issue and verify digital badges.
Dozens of organizations have
joined Open Badges to date,
including top-flight universities,
professional associations and
Badge icons are now
by training and
organizations to offer
a fast and easy visual
verification of skills.
Still not sure how these work in enterprise? Consider how The Nerdery—an interactive design
and production company—uses recognition and badges. Each employee profile includes a
list of certification and achievements, days with the company, and projects completed. And
while the presentation is intended to be humorous, it shows off each employee’s skill base and
The Nerdery’s profiles
of employees are part-fun,
They use recognition
points and badges to
show off in a quick,
highly visual format.
Just as gamers identify with certain gaming cliques, so too your organization should try to find
groups of potential job candidates that seem part of a tribe or defined social group. Hard Rock
Café, for example, needed to hire staff for a new restaurant, and needed to do so quickly.
The company realized that among their current workforce, most were die hard rock and roll fans
and that most (90 percent) satisfied their passion for music with a Spotify account. Reviewing
data from Spotify, Hard Rock could see current employees shared an ardent interest in a small
group of artists. To drive up applications for their new location, Hard Rock featured ads with
music from those bands—and earned unprecedented click-through rates compared to earlier
Hard Rock campaigns.
And tribalism can come in even simpler forms. Starbucks realized potential job candidates
enjoyed CityVille, so they placed a virtual store inside the game. (Inside jokes or a sly nod
among tribe members earns extra points!)
The real beauty of successful
gamification, no matter
the tactic, is the immediate
feedback loop. Do this.
If you’re considering
methodology in your
remember the following:
Don’t be too strict about
how you apply gaming
to your recruiting efforts.
You’re not actually aiming
to turn what you do into a
game, but rather offering
opportunities for users to
return and re-engage.
Design-in rewards programs
where you can. And rather
than offer big rewards
smaller rewards more often.
Again, it’s about drawing
Rewards are always better
when they include some
sort of status or visual
badge. Users love getting
stuff (e.g. the FarmVille cow),
but they adore bragging
about it too. Give them a
chance to show off some
token or badge that proves
they’ve reached a new level.
Study where your audience
hangs out online. The
example of the company
using FarmVille cows as
currency only worked
because the company
understood their audience.
Be sure you know which
games and social networks
your audience likes most,
and how you can share their
interests as part of the
THE #TRU STORY
I first discovered the Unconference concept when I led a track at #RecruitFest in Toronto in
1999. I was taken aback by the way discussion flowed and how different the format was to a
traditional conference. I led a track all day under a tree and learnt far more than I gave.
Two months later and back in the UK, we ran the first #truLondon at Canary Wharf in November
2009. Today, we’re running dozens of #tru events a year across Europe, North America, Africa
and the Asia-Pacific. Thousands of recruiters, HR leaders and providers come together in an
informal spirit of information sharing and networking.
#tru is based on the BarCamp principle, which means that everybody can be an active
participant instead of listening to speakers and watching presentations all day. The emphasis is
on communication and the free exchange of ideas and experiences where the participants fuel
POWERING A WORKPLACE REVOLUTION
Gamification – using gaming tactics to attract top talent – may be a relatively new trend in
the recruitment industry but, if done well, could power a workplace revolution. Put simply,
gamification harnesses people’s desire to play online games or be tested in a way which
benefits them and their employer. But the power of gamification is that it’s a fun way to enhance
employer branding, improve employee engagement, recruit top-notch workers, and win
Recruiters are now interested in how they can borrow user experience tactics from gaming
to create better incentives, entertainment, education and ways of attracting candidates.
Gamification in practice revolves around the basics of laddering, rewards, badges, digital
currency and tribalism. It could involve offering digital game rewards to attract new recruits, or
turning an internal re-branding operation into a workplace trading card competition. It’s also a
more fun way to get workers’ input than an all-staff email or a boring intranet page.
One technology company used popular Facebook game Farmville, to recruit elite university
students, offering students a Farmville cow if they joined the company’s talent community – a
much better give away than a branded coffee cup.Ultimately, successful gamification is all about
offering users opportunities to return and engage and targeting where your audience hangs out
online. But like any strategy, it has to be done well.
To learn more about the future of recruiting download the TRU File e-book Gamification
Vice President (VP), Head of
Sourcing and Research for
EMEA and Asia-Pacific
Martin is responsible for all
sourcing activity within the
EMEA APAC regions, including
sourcing strategy, process,
implementation and ongoing
enhancement. He also works
with Kelly clients to advise them
on the most innovative sourcing
and recruitment solutions
available for their business.
His expertise spans the following
areas: Advanced and Direct
Sourcing Techniques, Boolean
Searching and Search Engines,
Data Mining, Competitor
Analysis, Recruitment Research,
Social Media, Talent Pooling,
Sourcing from Social Media,
Market Mapping and the