Gamification has really come into its own in the recruitment process, and even has its own name, ‘recruitainment’. This global phenomenon has been embraced by French postal service Formaposte as well as the U.S. Department of Justice and according to Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company based in the US,  more than 70% of top global organisations will use gamification in some form in 2014.

Attributed with changing the language of recruiting, gamification has also been credited with saving time and money in the candidate selection process. But significantly, it has also been seen as a divisive process. This is especially true within the demographic that does not speak ‘gaming’, which is typically, but not exclusively, older candidates.

Designed to create engaging and relevant content to test skills by tapping into the competitive spirit of a candidate through the medium of a game, gamification tools for talent acquisition make it easier to source and select the right candidate. Firstly, gamification has been cited as a solution to attract more candidates to positions and companies, and importantly away from the competition. Secondly, by providing a clear overview of what the job entails, candidates can get to experience what it would be like working in the role and the employer gets a preview of how well the candidate copes within this ‘real’ scenario. This also addresses issues such as high dropout rates of new hires and bad hires, reducing related losses significantly.

We’ve discussed in a previous post that when it comes to apprentice and graduate recruitment, many organisations are not searching in the right place for the talent they need. Games by their very nature are social and competitive, which makes them desirable and easy to share across the many social channels that apprentices and graduates commune and compete on. The average young person racks up 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21, so ‘recruitainment’ is a natural extension for them, making it a ‘must-have’ tool in an employer’s toolbox.

The question has to be asked, however, if this model of recruitment, even when used in addition to traditional recruiting methods, does not inadvertently or intentionally marginalise good candidates. Not everyone finds games or social media intuitive, many hailing from a different era and having to play digital catch up, others just not interested in gaming even though they may be digital natives. To relegate these candidates could cost a company in the long-term, especially within industries that seek a specialised skill set.

Gaming could also be used to deliberately exclude older applicants who find the concept too alien and inaccessible because they do not have the necessary technical skills or devices. This could open up a Pandora’s Box in terms of employment law if it excludes older candidates who want to. Employers wanting a specific demographic could rely on the gaming barrier being too difficult for some to overcome. This would be a shame on a number of levels, but mostly in the lost talent that gamification might engender.

Gamification is here to stay, but like social media before it, the tools and methods used to attract candidates need to be part of a wider recruitment process chosen to suit the profile and communications needs of the type of candidate required.