For the past few years a number of high profile global corporates have invested considerable sums of money in releasing free online games and apps in order to help drive recruitment efforts among a younger demographic. These games are usually based on a simulation of the work environment or industry and try to provide a reflection of real life scenarios, while also remaining engaging and entertaining to a player audience. For example in Trust from Danone you build a dairy, hire a team, produce dairy products and then market them in different parts of the globe.
Corporate games like Trust usually seek to:
- Raise awareness of brand and career options for recruits
- Develop engagement with corporate brands to make potential recruits more likely to apply
- Target particular groups, for example in specific markets
- Drive potential recruits towards recruitment information usually on the career website
- Give potential recruits a taste of organisational culture and activities
Some games go a little further and actually play a part in the recruitment process. Below are eight ways which global organisations are using games to drive recruitment.
Attract millennials and Gen Z
At the most basic level corporate games with a recruitment objective tend to be designed to increase brand awareness and engagement with a younger demographic. There will usually be a call for action to find out more information about careers and training – somewhere there will be a link to the careers website.
Back in 2010 when Reckitt Benckiser launched its Facebook game poweRBrrands, RB’s Head of Comms Andrea Dawson-Shepherd said in the press release ““It is not a direct recruitment tool, but is a great way to introduce students and early careers sales people and marketers to our culture – and we hope that some of them may look further to our website and other career information.” The game simulates climbing up the corporate ladder from a marketing executive to global President and is aimed at 18 to 30 year-olds.
Engage a specific demographic
A high profile social game from Marriott International is a Facebook game called My Marriott Hotel. Inspired by the success of Farmville and others, the game simulates running a virtual hotel and kitchen. It was specifically designed as a recruitment tool for Marriott, giving younger people a taste of what a career at a Marriott Hotel might be like, but also trying to attract younger talent in developing countries like India and China where Marriott was expanding, and struggling to find the right people.
The game was designed to attract a very specific demographic of 17 to 24 year olds in these developing markets and was based on market research. The choice of the locations where users can “set” their game helps to engage very specific target groups.
In some games from the process of registering, playing through to scoring it is also possible for a company to identify talented individuals who may be suitable candidates. L’Oreal are one of the pioneers of using games for recruitment and have already been running their international Brandstorm marketing game for over two decades. Their entry into wholly online gamin, called Reveal, follows a new product launch process at L’Oreal.
The game was designed with input from psychometric experts to allow players to test their suitability to roles across five different departments. Not only do Brainstorm and Reveal drive engagement among potential recruits with very healthy numbers of players, the identification of top talent helps to bring in about 250 new graduates per year, 100 of these through Reveal.
Use as part of the physical interview
Another way in which games are used to identify talent is as part of a physical interview or event. Dutch law firm Houthoff Buruma have developed a simulation game which is also available as an app. While the game seeks to engage graduate trainees, it looks like it was originally developed to be part of an original student recruitment day where teams take part in a simulated multimedia exercise and are observed on how they cope and work together.
Appeal to schools and universities
Companies often work closely or even in partnership with educational establishments to encourage recruitment on to training schemes. A well-designed simulation game can help facilitate links or be used at events with schools and colleges especially if it has an”educational” aspect in showing what it is like to work in an industry in an appealing way. Maersk Oil’s Quest for Oil is a simulation game which shows what it’s like to work in the oil industry. Maersk have tended to emphasize the educational aspects of the game and even provide additional materials to encourage its use in schools.
Jeanne Meister wrote an interesting article for Forbes about using gamification for HR processes. In that she describes how PwC in Hungary developed Multpoly, a game to help candidates experience business scenarios based on PwC’s values. In the article PwC Hungary’s regional recruitment manager says candidates who have played the game seem better prepared for interview and even for onboarding because they have had a little immersion into PwC’s values. While I don’t think that it was necessarily a designed outcome of the game, it’s a very interesting (and positive) by-product. Well-prepared candidates are clearly going to be better performers.
Screen candidates for a specific role
While some companies have used games to identify potential top recruits and built some processes around that few have actually built a game as a defined step in the application process. However UK telecommunications company O2 did just that, using a game when it was seeking candidates for a new group of in-store “technical gurus”.
All candidates applying had to play an online game which involved simulations of situations with customers. Those that did not pass this stage could not pass through this stage. This filtering stage filtered out over a third of candidates (saving 126 man days in reviewing CVs) which produced good ROI for the company in terms of time saved, but it also improved the success rate at the face-to-face interviews was 40% compared to 25% before the game was launched.
Extend deeper brand engagement
It’s probably a little unfair to compare the US Army’s online video simulation game, America’s Army with other corporate games used for recruiting. It was first launched in the early noughties and has the financial muscle of the US government behind it. The game since has gone on to be released in multiple versions. The last major release was in 2013 with “Proving Grounds.” .
A simulation of combat is also clearly going to appeal more to a gaming audience than say a simulation of something like delivering corporate tax advice. While clearly the US military evokes both strong engagement and antipathy in equal measures, it’s fascinating to see how the game has become a brand in itself and has extended even to a comics series. Over the years this must have helped extend the engagement with the US Army’s “brand” by drawing a younger interested audience in a deeper and longer lasting way than most other games have been capable of.
The game also delivers positive messages (or propaganda depending on your view) which helps to make turn gamers into potential recruits. There is, after all, a prominent link to the Careers site on the homepage. Interestingly the game is also used internally for training, and at physical events for recruitment and engagement.
More research needed
While online gaming to attract recruits, particularly through mobile apps, looks like it will continue there is little research to show the overall success of this approach. This is a fascinating topic. I’d be grateful for any thoughts or examples of where games have been successful or unsuccessful for recruitment.