Recruitment 4.0: Crowdsourcing, Gamification, Recruitment as a Profit Center, … and the Death of Recruitment Agencies!

Aug 10, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.


We’re only just digesting 3.0. But what direction are we heading in? Is it a coherent journey? Is there a clear destination/end goal?

4.0. What on earth could that include? How’s this?

  • Recruitment transitions from being a “cost center” into a “profit center”’!
  • The collapse and insolvency of many recruitment agencies.
  • Job boards stuttering and collapsing … and repurposing themselves
  • Companies hiring “through the sky” through external referrals and crowdsourcing
  • Exclusive/VIP/premium paid in-community content and paid mobile apps
  • Gamification shapes recruiting strategies and generates stickiness and virality
  • Companies rated globally by crowd opinions

Before anyone screams “unrealistic” or “utter fantasy” or cries B.S., let’s be clear that Recruitment 4.0 moves into the territory of vision. This is some years off. But by calculated hypotheses it is clear there will be a 4.0 and that it is a natural progression of 3.0 and builds sensibly on its foundations.

Let’s recap the different versions of recruiting.

Recruitment 1.0 encompasses traditional recruiting over a huge timeline, including good old-fashioned fax machines, print advertising, (post, spray ,and pray), and Rolodexes moving into traditional ATSs. Recruiters more focused on processes than end results. The basic any-bum-on-any-seat philosophy.

Recruitment 2.0 saw the move onto online and using technology for recruitment purposes, including the advent of online job boards & online CV searches. While the technology moved forward, the traditional methodology of 1.0 was prevalent, including online post, spray, and pray candidate attraction (aka the recruitment lottery of let’s hope the right-ish person looks at the online advertisement, at the right time and feels willing to go to the effort to apply).

Both Recruitment 1.0 and 2.0 were/are fundamentally focused on the active job seekers, (applying to vacancies, on agency books, and those watching job boards like a possessed predator).

Recruitment 3.0 is a huge leap as it moves recruitment out of its comfort zone. The beating heart of 3.0 is the non-active/passive individual and a focus on “best talent” and building predictable talent pipelines. In addition, the philosophy of “everyone is a potential candidate so engage them” is central. 3.0 takes us into building engaged, two-way, free-conversation based, transparent communities. This is anchored by things like employment branding, marketing, and PR. 3.0 is not only concerned with building communities but mapping key competitors and seducing cream-of-the-crop talent with your brand and in-house opportunities.

What is Recruitment 4.0?

Recruitment 3.0 is all consumed and focused on building communities. 4.0 is all about the value of those communities, both real and perceived.

Recruitment has traditionally been a cost center. It sucks money from the profit line like Count Dracula on a feeding frenzy in Transylvania, especially if agency fees are involved, coupled with advertising/job board fees etc. Add this up and it can be an overwhelming drain on resources.

Remember that many of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies are addicted to agency hiring and mass job board advertising like an alcoholic drawn to drink. Why highlight the Fortune and FTSE companies? Primarily they should have the advantage and resources to wean off agency addiction, source passive candidates far more easily than small to medium companies, (but funnily enough it is the small- and medium-sized companies who are far more fleet of foot and innovative).

Recruitment 4.0 sees recruiting move from being a cost center (a loss-making division) to being a profit center.

Reflect on that statement.

It’s huge and revolutionary.

Recruitment being a profit center.

“Impossible,” you cry.

Perhaps not if you reflect and apply some visionary foresight.

Recruitment 4.0 is some years off. But not as far as some may think.

Consider the world we live in. Value is defined differently. Companies like Zynga, Facebook, and LinkedIn have massive valuations, well above their profitability margins. Their reach and potential reach and the size of their mass following — an engaged following.

Our generation is living in the information age. The power lies in networks. Networks are data. Data is power. And data is money.

We all want data. Especially recruiters and marketers/salespeople.

So how does a community, (or let’s crudely call it data) = value = monetization = recruitment becoming a profit center?

There are several facets to recruitment moving to a profit center.

  1. Reduction of recruiting costs to a minimum, (agency usage close to zero, less need for mass job board advertising, reduction in number of in-house recruiters employed).
  2. This depends on building and nurturing a “qualitative” community, a strong employment brand, vibrant social networks, mapped competitors, and putting in place a predictable talent pipeline for key hiring channels.
  3. The community itself evolves into a self-service community, where recruitment can be executed by crowdsourcing, and by hiring managers becoming more engaged into pipeline generation and hiring. Everyone can use LinkedIn. Why not hiring managers?
  4. Value in the community is identified by both internal and external advertisers/marketers that allows for revenue for recruitment.
  5. A sense of increased value is attached to belonging/being part of that community, hence VIP/exclusive areas/content that people are happy to pay for.
  6. Gamification principles create more engagement and sense of belonging and stickiness to sites, hence driving potential of more opportunities for monetization.
  7. Actual games/cartoons/content that people subscribe to have repeat value.

Let’s look at some of those in a little more depth.

Traditional advertising is failing. The days of successful, targeted TV and print advertising are long behind us.

Ways to communicate, once limited and restricted, are now numerous and disperse.

Looking at TV, the former medium of choice for mass communication, now diminished, as people are now hungry for choice and happily spread their viewing over a diverse and numerous multitude of TV channels. If an advertiser manages to define a great TV slot to advertise to reach their target audience they are thwarted by the fact that people can now record and Tivo, hence skipping ads. TV advertising then is a busted flush.

Print advertising? Again, some national newspapers and magazines are spiraling downward from their heyday readerships. People tend toward reading the latest news online 24/7 or from niche web sites. They don’t want to wait the next day for old news. Print has had to be more salacious and do what it can to get the best scoops to get whatever sales possible. Online, people not only digest news, but have the benefit of posting comments and engaging in discussions.

So traditional messaging vehicles are struggling.

This coincides with a time when recruiter networks are expanding. Combine a recruitment database (with some companies having in excess of ½ million – million names), with social media networks, a targeted mass of names, email addresses, with perceived affinity to a business or product, and a growing realization awakens that this has a marketable value.

A marketing department does not have this scale, (or quality), of information on its database.

Recruiting does.

Now the first step is for recruiting to cross charge its marketing division to advertise to its database and community. Why not? Many marketing departments don’t see or understand the value of recruiting databases. They’re a potential goldmine of information and data … and potential business opportunities.

Taking this a step further, why not allow specific external companies the opportunity to advertise to your community? (Mindful of data protection and ensuring a community buys into contact by third-party advertisers). You remain in charge of the names and not divulging data, but certain advertising is safe to your community and could be revenue-generating for recruiting.

As this thought sinks in, revenue potential opens up.

The Death of Recruitment Agencies

At the same time, savvy companies will be seeing their recruiting costs decreasing.

As companies build their databases of talent, via sourcing, identification through LinkedIn, talent mapping, and coupled with their valued online communities, the need and reliance on recruiting agencies, both contingent and retained, will dramatically lessen.

This will also coincide with less of a need for corporate in-house recruiters. Hiring managers are more than adept at searching on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is greatly expanding its offering and making recruiting easier for everyone. Initiatives like ‘Genome’ from LinkedIn will radically lesson the need for dedicated in-house recruiters in the future. Coupled with your community recruiting on your company’s behalf (crowdsourcing of talent), the need for recruiters will lessen and hence accelerate cost reduction.

The very future of recruitment agencies depends on their ability to adapt to the new realities that companies are waking up to the need to break out of the active candidate pool and identify and attract passive candidates. If we take as an approximation that of the 100% of candidates qualified for your job, only 10% are active with agencies and job boards, then it’s the 90% who are more attractive to companies, and the agencies need to identify, attract, and present those candidates.

Contingent recruitment agencies, especially the large ones, are in the business of competing to be the first to present the CV of that 10% active pool, all trying to Bolt out the blocks. Unless they start to adapt by attracting and mapping out the 90% non-active and building their own communities, their model will face extinction. Now is not the time to rush and buy shares in traditional contingent operators as a long-term investment.

Even worse, the business model of traditional retained search and selection companies, as we reflect on it in this modern age, is founded on the delusions of lunacy. A client pays a 30% fee for first-year guaranteed compensation (or even just basic salary only), split into thirds, a third for commencement of the project and a third for presentation of a shortlist — the risk all loaded on the fee-paying client. Certainly, cost models will change toward loaded placement fees.

The irony is that search firm marketing is based on its peerless reputation as the ultimate Rolodex of all the golden names in the industry. Their network is the goldmine that we are seduced to unlock. If their databases are that peerless and they have done hundreds of similar searches, why then does it take four to five weeks for a shortlist? Perhaps that question is not raised enough.

The zealots will cry that the search agency is peerless in assessment and interviewing. But is that not we do in house? Why am I paying two-thirds of a fee without a placement? It’s even more laughable when the shortlist of contacts is most likely generated by a fresh graduate on $40,000 a year in the back room of the search agency, who then passes all their lead generation to the search consultant.

Alternatively, a growing trend is using a new breed of company that is engaged in market mapping, talent pooling, and recruitment research solutions — hence providing a company with a mapped market of qualified talent, with contact details and candidate profiles that the recruiter then follows up on. Not every company can afford internal sourcers, and this is the next best thing, and significantly cheaper/more cost effective than a full search.

However you cut it, the future is not bright for contingent and retained search and selection unless they adapt to changing new business realities. Not many currently have that foresight as they focus on short-termism. Hopefully agency CEOs have strong managers in their crow’s nest who are prepared to shout “iceberg ahead” before disaster strikes.

Job Boards Faltering

Coupled with the death/decline of agencies will be the faltering and restructuring of the large job boards.

As companies build their own recruitment databases and even more importantly their own communities, they can use creative ways to source talent.

Communities themselves will evolve around certain disciplines/careers/industries and hence negate the use for paid job boards. Why pay for a large job board in the active pool when we can reach passive candidates in a free community?

Job boards will have to look at community-building themselves and earn their revenue through product placement advertising rather than paid-for job advertisements.

Companies have always embraced the concept of internal referrals. Why not the reverse? External referrals — even better through crowdsourcing using their communities.

Naysayers will point to the rewards attributed to internal referrals, generally through monetary bonuses, and hence the difficulty of applying this externally as companies don’t want to pay for talent they would have got anyway.

But recent times have showed the power of recognition and “public reward” through games like Foursquare. People love the status of being the Mayor of a local curry house.

Why not take this principle into recruiting and reward referrals from crowdsourcing: Public recognition and rewards in the community, (badges, leaderboards), on a sliding scale to reach actualization of  “real” rewards, be it monetary bonus, vacation, or a PC or iPad?

External Referrals through Crowdsourcing

Recruitment can learn a lot from crowdsourcing.

This term was arguably defined by Jeff Howe in the June 2006 issue of Wired magazine.

Howe states:

Simply defined, crowdsourcing represents the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.

Howe further drives this home by stating that “it’s only crowdsourcing once a company takes that design, fabricates [it] in mass quantity and sell[s] it.”

In laymen’s language, a company posts a problem online; a vast number of individuals offer their opinions and ideas as to how to solve it; the winning idea is rewarded in some form; and the end result is the company adopting the idea for its own benefit.

Some great examples of the power of crowdsourcing exist on Wikipedia: (the following are all directly quoted from Wikipedia).

  • In 2005, launched the Amazon Mechanical Turk, a platform on which crowdsourcing tasks called “HITs” (Human Intelligence Tasks”) can be created and publicized and people can execute the tasks and be paid for doing so. Dubbed “Artificial Intelligence,” it was named after The Turk, an 18th century chess-playing “machine.”
  • Cisco Systems Inc. held an I-Prize contest in which teams using collaborative technologies created innovative business plans. The winners in 2008 were a three-person team, Anna Gossen from Munich, her husband Niels Gossen, and her brother, Sergey Bessonnitsyn, that created a business plan demonstrating how IP technology could be used to increase energy efficiency. More than 2,500 people from 104 countries entered the competition. The winning team won $250,000.
  • The Democratic National Committee launched FlipperTV in November 2007 and McCainpedia in May 2008 to crowdsource video gathered by Democratic trackers and research compiled by DNC staff in the hands of the public to do with as they choose — whether for a blog post, to create a YouTube video, etc.
  • Facebook has used crowdsourcing since 2008 to create different language versions of its site. The company claims this method offers the advantage of providing site versions that are more compatible with local cultures.
  • General Electric organized a multimillion dollar challenge to find new, breakthrough ideas to create cleaner, more efficient and economically viable grid technologies, and to accelerate the adoption of smart grid technologies. The winner will be announced on Nov. 16, 2020.
  • The Vancouver Police Department has put up a website entitled Hockey Riot 2011, informing people about the VPD?s investigations into the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot. It also asks people to contribute any pictures or video that they may have taken during the riot, with the goal of identifying people who may have participated in the rioting. The site also reminds people to not use social media to take justice into their own hands, instead leaving it to the police. As of July 1, 2011, 101 arrests have been made.
  • IBM collected more than  37,000 ideas for potential areas for innovation from brainstorming sessions with its customers, employees, and their family members in 2006.
  • L’Oreal used viewer-created advertising messages of Current TV to pool new and fresh advertising ideas.
  • Pepsi launched a marketing campaign in early 2007 which allowed consumers to design the look of a Pepsi can. The winners would receive a $10,000 prize, and their artwork would be featured on 500 million Pepsi cans around the United States.
  • Unilever has recently decided to drop its ad agency of 16 years, Lowe, and has turned to the crowdsourcing platform IdeaBounty to find creative ideas for its next TV campaign. Unilever has worked with Lowe on the snack-food brand Peperami since 1993, but has decided to submit its brief out to the public, rather than a small team of creatives.

Ironically, Wikipedia is itself a successful example of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing, as a concept, lends itself perfectly to recruiting.

Posing the question to your community, “We are looking for a dynamic Product Manager, with x/y/z experience … any ideas/recommendations?” will soon become a normal sourcing/name generating activity for recruiters.

The key is how to incentivize/inspire/motivate the crowd to do your recruiting.

LinkedIn gets it. It’s already making headway toward this goal, aiding a company’s ability to use employee networks and matching up people who are connected to our employees who closely match our job specifications.

But what about the wider crowd? That’s where attention will turn next.

Premium Paid Content

Recruitment 3.0 recognized that recruitment is fundamentally boring. People tend to only visit corporate careers pages when they are looking for work. There is no engaging “repeat visit” content that drags them back for more. Many companies are using social media as a replacement job board and listing jobs with hyperlinks back to the job site. It’s hardly the most engaging content.

Recruitment 3.0 involves building “engaged” communities. The key is compelling, rich content, creating a destination that people want to go to on a frequent basis. That is not a list of jobs.

Remember again that recruiting is not about “bums on seats”; it also encompasses nurturing a strong employment brand proposition, attracting and seducing those not familiar with your brand, and taking them on a journey to either apply to work for your company or be an active brand ambassador in your community.

As communities build up in 3.0, underpinned by engaging content, and when those communities reach a critical mass, the next step is starting to grant VIP access and exclusive content to community members. If communities are engaged, they will be, by definition, happy to pay to be part of the VIP area, and we will see the monetization of these communities and a potential revenue stream for recruiters.

Aggregating all your social media feeds — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube content, and your blog — is the first step. This could and should be aggregated both on your corporate careers site and your mobile phone app (for those who want to be part of the community on the move). A one-stop shop for people to engage and follow your company encourages repeat visitors.

This content on the social media sites needs to feel personalized and humanized, giving exclusive access behind the scenes of your company and the individuals behind it.

But what else?

Understand the public pulse. There is no better place than the Apple Store. This shows what content keeps people coming back and is most popular to download. And guess what that is:

  • News & Information (knowledge and exclusive access news)
  • Games (fun games but also including quizzes)
  • Comics & books (The appeal of an ongoing story that people want to follow)
  • Photography/photos/videos (uploading and sharing)

This content often focuses on getting people involved, something to do with your friends, and brings that “global community” together.

Each of these is “sticky” and keeps people coming back.

Why can’t recruiters use these same concepts as part of their community building but adapt them for their own companies?

Recruitment Embraces Concepts of Gamification

Gamification is the latest buzzword. What’s funny is that some well-known commentators are rushing to speak about this subject but end up mirroring granddad at the disco trying to throw “cool” shapes to the latest bangin’ tune but instead look rather doddery and completely out of touch.

People love to be entertained. Gaming is huge. Not just “serious” video console games like the Call of Duty’s, FIFAs, and Battlefields, or the PC games like World of Warcraft, but the spread of casual gaming whether on Facebook or on mobile shows the power of people of all ages wanting interactive entertainment.

Gaming educates us about the dynamics of engagement. (Some would take this further to addiction.) What a great game does is ingrain itself into the conscious and subconscious of the player. You think about it and love the roller coaster of emotions that the game takes you through. You may pull an all-nighter, or get up extra early to get in an hour or so before having to venture off to deal with humdrum reality. Escapism is the new drug of the austere Tens.

But what else can we learn? Casual games are the key to the door of mass/mainstream and that elusive community engagement via compelling content that we all seek.

Casual games are those that embrace all demographics, are simple, fun, accessible, and from which users get an instant form of gratification. This is different than “serious games” that are deeper experiences and are perhaps less accessible due to the time invested and the barrier of controllers/complexity of purpose.

Farmville on Facebook is a classic example of community-building and demonstrates some key buttons in engagement theory (in a social context). Farmvile has been such a success for a number of reasons. First, it recognized the unbridled thrill of “gifting.” When you first visit your farm, you don’t go straight to it but to a page with a list of gifts. Many games ask you to spam mail your buddies to play the game. Farmville cleverly goes further by allowing you to send a gift of an animal or plant/crop to your friends. Of course, when we receive gifts, we also like to give them back, starting the spiral of interaction.

Part of this psychology also encourages you to help your friends by reminding them to harvest their fields and to weed their farms. It’s very community-friendly stuff.

These gifts also have a perceived value. The whole point of Farmville is to build a busy and profitable farm and maintain it. But to do this, you need to build and grow the farm, which is time-consuming and takes a while to buy plants, crops, and trees, etc.  But luckily your saving grace is your friends as they help out by sending all these valuable items for your farm. Hence my farm looks better with more content so I will invite more of my friends to play, give them gifts, and expect/request gifts in return.  It’s a clever use of personal psychology and satisfaction of wants.

Farmville also gets that the game has to be accessible and simple. There are no extra levels; you just keep on growing the size and scope of your own farm. The only limitation is money. But having lots of friends gets around that.

Now the clever part kicks in. The game keeps you coming back. Certain crops you plant require harvesting at certain times. Some crops will die if you don’t come back. Strawberries mean you come back every four hours. That locks in an engagement and repeat visit. “I must log back in at 2 p.m. or my crops will die!”

Farmville also cleverly gets the whole concept of one-up-manship and competing to have the bigger farm, the more money, the latest gadgets 00 and that’s where monetization kicks in. Someone can pay to get ahead of their friends, and for many that is a key driver. “I must have the biggest farm and the latest items and be ahead of my mates!”

Hence Farmville teaches us there are three things to making social games huge viral successes: getting users to invite their friends (virality); getting users to return frequently (stickiness); and people competing to win/be ahead of their friends (showing off).

Interestingly, one of the first to understand these dynamics was the Hotel chain Marriott, which has released a Facebook game designed with the goal of introducing potential employees to life in the hospitality industry. MyMarriottHotel gives players the opportunity to “work” in various hotel roles, including hospitality manager. You can start by working in the hotel kitchens and gain points for excellent customer service and profitability. The game is geared to raising awareness among millennials to job opportunities around the world (cleverly available in five languages).

Critically for recruiting, the MyMarriottHotel Facebook game includes at the top of the game a banner shouting “Do It For Real” that hyperlinks to Marriott’s jobs site. Marriott’s goal is to fill 50,000 positions at its hotels around the world, helped by this game raising awareness, (predominantly outside the U.S.).

So what is gamification, and how can it be applied to recruiting?

Gamification is using game mechanics/methodology to inspire engagement in activities that otherwise would be considered boring or routine. Recruitment certainly sits within that definition.

Key concepts of gamification that recruiters can learn from when developing communities and building compelling, repeat visit content, include:

  • The key word when engaging in social media and community-building is remembering the key element, often-forgotten, is social
  • Keeping activities/content simple, fun, and interactive. When people read your blog/social media, is it light, carries pictures, short, informative, stimulating, or even entertaining to read?
  • People want to know what other people are doing, especially their friends. Can people see what their friends have been doing? People love engagement and giving their opinion, be it by rate-this-page, commenting, oropinion polls. These are all interactive elements that engage.
  • As people interact, degrees of personalization and humanization help, such as the uploading of avatars and/or people’s pictures. People prefer engaging with “perceptibly real” other people. Avatars aid that.
  • Are you encouraging sharing content/activities with your community? Are people rewarded or recognized for sharing content?
  • Inspiring members of your community’s “friends” to get involved and get their friends engaged, i.e. virality, sending community growth viral.
  • “Gifting.” Can content be shared amongst friends/can someone get something in return?
  • Keeps em coming back for more. Certain times of the day/week that the community has to be there. Prizes/giveaways ingrain this activity. Some companies do specific content “reveals” at certain times of the week. Live webcasts also encourage set-time attendance.
  • Competition against friends/leader boards. It could be quiz-questions about your company, the most referrals of job seekers, or the most comments made in your blog/social community. Leader boards keep people coming back to chart their progress and see who is on top, and if they are ahead of their friends.
  • “Easter Eggs” — those intentionally hidden features that people can’t find. Especially cool for college sections and can be used to encourage people to find about more about your company and unlock exclusive content.
  • Enabling unique experiences/personalization. Can people create their own unique user account, personalize their landing pages, and personalize their experiences?
  • Progress bars. People are addicted to completion, and progress bars are often used in online shopping as you are guided to place things in the shopping cart and progress to the checkout. Progress bars fit nicely with job application processes of a series of tasks that people will want to complete. “Completism” is a natural human psychological compulsion.
  • User-generated content, and games like LittleBigPlanet have showed us that people love creating their own content and sharing that content with the community. Can your community do the same, involving uploads to your blog/corporate careers site?

These concepts can all be applied to corporate career sites, which are purely a repository of information overload and fundamentally dull, and of course to mobile apps. People, bored sitting on the train, plane, and bus, want content to engage them.

Some corporate sites already include games and other challenges — almost always in the Careers section — and some companies have added game elements to the recruitment process.

Some are asking, “Is this expensive? How can a recruiting department make games? But at minimal cost there is a thriving development community and graduates studying at colleges who would love the opportunity and exposure that creating and publishing a game on a corporate site brings them. Development time on games for mobile is minimal but the key is fun (look at games like Doodle Jump and Flick Football, massively popular but simple to develop).

Many recruiters are currently using Empire Avenue as a way of engaging with communities and making new contacts. Some are even using it as a sourcing tool to recruit from. For those who don’t know, Empire Avenue is fundamentally a stock market simulation social network game that encourages users to buy and sell shares of people and websites. Players have their own portfolio in a virtual economy and earn money, called Eaves, by investing in other people. This sees your own net worth rise by encouraging friends and community members to invest in you. What is cool is that when all accounts are linked together, including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs, your net worth rises based on the content you either create or share. What’s cool about this approach is that it combines simplicity with what we do on the web every day: creating and sharing content. Interestingly, Empire Avenue mimics the other sites as it’s also a social network itself. It’s allows opportunities to connect and debate with others by finding affinity groups (“Communities”) within Empire Avenue. Clever engagement mechanisms at play.

Concurrently, Google is also on the move with its Google News Badges. We all read the news, and applying the above theory — let’s call it gamification methodology — Google has created “Google Badges.” Google News users in the U.S. can earn different pins for reading the news, starting with bronze and moving up to Ultimate. There are more than 500 badges available to suit all types of interests, such as “stock market,” “Harry Potter,” and U.S. elections. These “Google Badges” follow closely on the heels of Google launching its own social network, Google+, and is increasingly trying to get people to share content via its network of services in a similar fashion to Facebook.

This will sound very similar to users of Foursquare. Foursquare is a location-based social networking website based on mobile phones. Users “check-in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging, or a device-specific application, and select from a list of venues that the application locates nearby, e.g. restaurant, library, pub, house, etc. Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges.”

The first time a badge is unlocked on Foursquare, be it an easy achievement (like the “Superstar” badge for 50 check-ins), or one that comes as a surprise (“Douchebag Badge,” which is unlocked after checking into venues tagged with “douchebag,” or the “Don’t Stop Believing Badge,” awarded for checking in to three venues tagged “karaoke” in a month), the game keeps people engaged with rewards that makes members want to use the system even more and compete with friends. Especially those who live or work in close vicinity of each other as they compete to be the Mayor of a location.

Why is gamification so important?

Interestingly, to give more credence to this area, Gartner, in research published in April 2011 stated: By 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. By 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay, or Amazon, and more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application.

That’s a big statement. 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

Many commentators see that naturally fitting in the corporate careers site.

Perhaps gamification will be taken more seriously among current recruitment leaders moving forward.

Global Community Rating of Companies

People trust each other and members of their community far more than they do advertising or company communications. Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers, talked about the impact of social media. One of his key points was that 78% of consumers trust each other more than they trust advertising — which is why they read blogs and go to chat rooms.

There are many examples to back this up, particularly when we go on vacation. The holiday industry has had to get far more authentic and responsible in its communications. No more fantastic ratings of restaurant food when it is tripe; no more “the beach is in walkable distance” … but only for those who are happy to walk for two hours; and no more “great local entertainment” when it is two people playing spoons. Why is that?

Many people now check out Trip Advisor and read how people have voted/rated their vacation/hotel en masse and then read through some of the commentary. Real. Authentic. Trustworthy. No hidden agendas, just shared experiences.

Companies value their placing on “best companies to work for” and “great places to work” lists. And these are a mix of internal questionnaires of employees’ experience and then a specialist evaluation of policies and internal structures by a panel of experts.

Glassdoor is the closest to a trip advisor for recruitment. Its bias is more U.S.-focused and needs to hit that critical mass to be held in the same esteem.

As we head to 4.0, those principles behind Glassdoor will see job seekers trust the crowd, and companies will value that authenticity far more than traditional manufactured best-places-to-work lists.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Some reading this will rightly raise the question of whether this is all this scalable. Cynics will openly proclaim there will always be a need for local agencies to hire receptionists, builders, joiners, hairdressers, admin assistants, and hosts of other roles. Screams will be heard:

Job boards will never die!

This was all predicted 10 years back and it never happened!

How can a small company generate its own community?

Many criticisms/protection of vested interests will emerge in this debate.

They’re fair points to discuss. Interestingly, when Hard Rock Café wanted to open a new venue in Florence, perhaps the initial reaction of many recruiters was to advise them to go to local “high street” agencies, or place an ad in the local press, even on a job board. The Hard Rock took a different approach and used Facebook to reach out and recruit. It built a community around the new venue opening. Hard Rock needed to hire 120 staff across eight categories from waiting staff, barmen/women, to accounting. It was inundated with responses and was able to interview 600 candidates for the roles and whittle down to the 120 needed for opening.

Whatever the size of a company, all the concepts here are relevant. It may be that a company does not have the time to build its own community but will be able to access other communities and groups, be they local or discipline-specific, such as hairdressers, and crowdsource their vacancies.

Technological, access to information, and communities know no boundaries. That’s the difference the past 10 years have made and why jobs boards and agencies have to adapt, or else.


Recruitment 4.0 is a long way off; yet, many of its concepts are resonating today and being built upon and planned. Some early adopters are even implementing some of the component parts. 4.0 is a natural progression from 3.0. It takes the community concept to the next level.

While some will be initially shocked at the radicalism involved at suggestions of recruitment transitioning into a profit center, crowdsourcing talent, and entertaining/gamification, with a period of reflection it makes sense as a natural strap-on to 3.0 communities.

Many of the recruitment leaders in place today are not ready for 3.0, let alone 4.0. They have been schooled in traditional recruiting techniques that will soon be outdated and detrimental to their business. Many more are worried about process than end results. Where does your leader stand?

Imagine those recruiting leaders who can go to their CEO and demonstrate that they have been able to map out competitors, and identify and build relationships with cream-of-the-crop talent. Leaders who have helped shape and who have put in place engaged communities with positive two-way communication social media channels, thus enhancing employment brand attractiveness, (with a positive spinoff for the consumer/product/service brand), and have hence been able to slash expenditures on recruitment and are now coming up with proposals of how to turn recruitment into a profit center.

Compare that to your current recruiting leader. Are they shaping your future in this direction?

Who do you think your CEO would prefer as a recruiting leader? The one described above or your current one?

There is plenty above to chew on and debate. Agree or disagree, what is certain is that exciting times lie ahead for recruitment.

And before someone asks, will we see an article on Recruitment 5.0 anytime soon? Not from Autodesk. We’ve got to focus on delivering 3.0 and 4.0 with the great team at Autodesk. There’s lots to do and achieve.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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