The Case for Creative Recruitment

Whether by reducing costs, targeting new recruits more accurately or making you stand out from your rivals, a creative – or even better, gamified – recruitment campaign will give you an edge to hiring that rare pearl for your company.

By Adrien Bacchi and Rémi Canali


Let us warn you from the start – this article is not about gamification only. It mainly aims to make the case for creative recrutment, as announced word for word in the title.

This post paves the way for the exploration of a whole topic area that we will be discussing in our blog. We will propose some case studies of gamified recruitment campaigns, successful or not, emphasizing their advantages and disadvantages.

But first, let’s examine the whys:


Target a specific pool of candidates

Create a little game adapted to your target pool, like this “spot the errors” that will catch the attention of potential employees who would be a good fit for the job and dissuade those who would not.

This little game makes a first selection for you. I personally see 12 mistakes, so I couldn’t have applied.


Find highly skilled talent

The survival of the fittest: if you’re looking for profiles with very specific, complex or technical skills, a difficult puzzle is also a way to put aside the ones who do not fit.

This is what Google did, looking for maths-savvy people. A mathematical puzzle on a huge billboard led the ones who could solve it to a Google Labs page with this message: “Nice work. Well done. Mazel tov. You’ve made it to Google Labs and we’re glad you’re here. One thing we learned while building Google is that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for if it comes looking for you. What we’re looking for are the best engineers in the world. And here you are.


Go get your potential recruits where they are

The advertising agency UncleGrey was looking for a front-end developer. A scarce commodity, it seems. They published an advertisement in newspapers and industry websites but they didn’t find the skill set they wanted. They even tried to propose this job randomly in the streets. “Maybe we were looking in the wrong places”, they admit. An analysis of the target pool revealed that their dream employee was spending 8 hours a week on average on online video games. Especially on Team Fortress 2.

So UncleGrey proposed a sponsorship to some of the best players of that game. They had to include the url of the application webpage in their in-game name. They were also asked to display advertisement posters inside the game.

A completely in-game campaign that was successful. In one week only, they received 50 applications, among which they found their new front-end developer. All with a comparatively small-budget, but perfectly targeted, campaign.


Reach candidates out of your usual range

Instead of fetching your recruits in a game, why don’t you create one? A game in which people could test their capabilities and get used to their future work environment. My Marriott Hotel is a game developed by Marriott International where players have to manage the kitchen of a hotel.

The franchise wanted to reach a young audience outside of the United States. The game was thus available on Facebook. It also made more attractive an industry faced with some serious recruitment problems.

As for those who already wanted to work in this sector, they would probably appreciate more a brand able to recruit in an amusing and original way and assume it would be more fun to work for them than for the competitors.

In 2014, Marriott affirmed that there were active players from 120 countries at any given time. And that about one third of them clicked the button “Try it for real” that redirected them on the career page of the company’s website.


Test your candidates‘ skills in action

During a job interview, you can obviously have the recruit pass an evaluation. But in such a situation, the person will be prepared. They will be more reactive and more motivated than during a real workday.

To test a potential employee in their daily environment, Volkswagen sent damaged cars to repair shops and hid a job advert on the undercarriage. The ‘undercover’ recruiters who dropped off the cars got first-hand impressions of how the mechanics interacted with customers. What is more, the innovative approach earned the company huge free coverage and a place in all most creative recruitment campaign lists.


Smart headhunting

In the field of IT, good developers are never jobless for long. And when they are employed by a flourishing Silicon Valley company, it becomes very hard to poach them.

The staff of game developer Red 5 made a list of their 100 dream candidates and did extensive research about them on social media. Each received a custom-engraved iPod with their name and a message from the CEO of Red 5 himself, Mark Kerr, inviting them to apply.

When you’re cherry-picking recruits, make sure there’s a cherry on the cake you offer 🙂


Of the 100 recipients, 90 answered the message. And 3 of them apparently liked the approach enough to leave their jobs and join Red 5.


On top of all the advantages that it brings in terms of cost-effectiveness and accurate targeting, such a creative campaign will differentiate you from other companies. If you need a very specific profile, a rare pearl, keep in mind that you won’t be the only one. Show them what it will be like to work for your company. Show them how much cooler it would be than a job with your competitor. And even if you can’t get the person you want, there’s a big chance  they will talk about you in their circles. In some of the above-outlined cases, Marriott for example, the virality of the process significantly increased traffic to their website.


These were just a few examples of reasons and ways to make a creative recruitment campaign. It’s only a sample, but we will soon bring you some more specific case studies more centered on gamification.

See you soon!


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