The effectiveness of using games as a tool to attract talent is a mixed bag, say recruitment experts who explain that games can help employers stand out in job advertising or facilitate candidate screening, but may exclude certain demographics or paint inaccurate or unrealistic work expectations.
Rolf Bezemer, managing director of Southeast Asia and Australia at talent management company Lumesse, told ZDNet Asia that games can complement the recruitment process in attracting, screening and qualifying potential candidates.
The economy, organizations and talent pool are not growing at the same pace in the current tight labor market, and using games during the recruitment process can be a "differentiator" to expose and market a job vacancy to interested or potential candidates, Bezemer explained in an e-mail.
In addition, he said games can help test, screen or filter suitable candidates that fit certain profiles or show preferred behavior or qualities, such as speed, service-orientedness, or creative, out-of-the-box thinking. These can work better than boring applicants with lengthy questionnaires or application forms, he added.
The downside to using games in recruitment processes is that it might "scare off" certain demographics who may be just as highly-skilled and "perfect for the job", but are "less equipped" to participate and connect in online games, for instance, older generations or more introverted people, Bezemer pointed out.
Dhiren Shantilal, Asia-Pacific senior vice president at recruitment agency Kelly Services, noted that unless the employer is a games company and the game itself is a branding tool to attract game programmers and designers, using games in recruitment is "rather limiting".
Shantilal explained: "Gaming is a leisure activity to entertain and engage. Using it as a recruitment tool will inadvertently cause some manner of actual work to be embellished as 'entertainment'--not exactly the best way to manage work expectations."
He told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that using games in recruitment can go both ways. An entertaining simulation that effectively engages a player may translate to an interest in a particular job, but can also backfire if the portrayal is "unrealistic", resulting in candidates having "overtly fun expectations" about the company, he said.
On the other hand, a "badly-designed simulation" will not capture the nature of a pleasurable work environment for potential candidates to take notice, he added.
Ultimately, Shantilal pointed out, the relevance of games as part of a recruitment strategy is at best a marketing tool. Attracting talent is only the first component of recruitment and that is where games stops short, he said.
"No game can replace human interaction, branding awareness and actual industry knowledge", he emphasized.
Tapping social trend
Global hotel operator, Marriott International, recently integrated games as part of a massive recruitment drive and developed its own social game on Facebook.
Officially launched on Jun. 7, My Marriott Hotel lets players manage a "virtual" hotel kitchen such as shopping for ingredients and cookware, taking customer orders, and hiring staff on a fixed budget.
Susan Strayer, Marriott's senior director of global talent acquisition and employer brand, told ZDNet Asia that the company decided to use a social game to attract the talent it needs for its "aggressive" growth plans, which will see the addition of 95,000 rooms worldwide over the next three years.
It also wanted to use the game to educate potential employees about the company's brands and career opportunities, particularly those in growth markets such as Asia where hospitality is "not always seen as a admirable or aspirational profession", Strayer explained.
During discussions with associates and employees, Marriott realized that social media was a big part of the conversation and in many countries, it was also the "number one activity outside of work", she said in an e-mail. Hence, it was natural to consider social media options such as networking sites as well as online games as part of the company's recruitment strategy, she added.
Furthermore, the swell of popularity in games made it clear it was a growing and important trend, she noted.
According to Strayer, employee referrals are the number one source of new hires so a social game "takes advantage of the social nature of that [hiring] process".
"Our employees have tremendous pride in the company, their jobs and the service and experiences they provide for guests," she said. "It's only natural that they share this pride with friends and family. The game is a great way to help strengthen such conversations."
Games relevant in social media age
Strayer also noted that organizations will continue to explore creative ways to attract talent online as the popularity of social media increases, and companies that do not embrace such platforms will fall behind.
Agreeing, Bezemer from Lumesse said recruitment processes have evolved rapidly over the past decade and today's recruitment is about "attracting, engaging and sharing working experiences" with candidates.
"Games is a powerful complement to build a relationship with a candidate, socializing the company whilst exposing the requirements for the job," he said.
Introducing games in recruitment could differentiate organizations amid a crowded market for the best talent and would appeal to new mobile generations entering the market, Bezemer added.
A spokesperson from Singapore-based banking giant, DBS Bank, said while it currently does not use online games as part of its recruitment strategy, it remains open to exploring appropriate games or other media channels that meet its recruitment needs, and generate "more interest in financial literacy and in the banking industry".