Online games

Games: A job recruiter's new best friend?

April 10, 2012: 10:42 AM ET

Businesses that at one time might have considered gaming a major waste of time are finding that game mechanics can identify talented candidates they often overlook.

By Elizabeth G. Olson, contributor

FORTUNE – Recruiters can certainly poke around a job seeker's Facebook or LinkedIn profiles to weed out undesirables, and plenty do. But some companies are finding that using online game techniques to recruit and screen applicants is a more productive, faster route to scouting out stellar hires.

Businesses that at one time might have considered such games a major employee distraction are finding that using competitive, and positive, screening tools can help pinpoint potential hires who may lack the obvious pedigree, but have the skills to succeed. Since young adults often play online games in their everyday lives, they are open to embracing competitive screening approaches

Such "social recruiting" can also expand brand awareness and encourage interest in working at lesser-known companies. People clamber to work for star companies like Facebook, which has posted programming puzzles that have attracted significant participation and has led to some employee hires.

Jockeying for top talent has gotten more intense as companies look for more varied and sophisticated skill sets from candidates, according to a survey by Deloitte Consulting. The survey, which was released last month, found that 25% of corporate human resources professionals were worried about skilled worker shortages, up from 16% last year.

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Even so, companies still hew to traditional resume screening, interviews, and reference checking, tasks that are time consuming and often fail to produce the right match. These conventional methods were not working for Upstream Systems, a mobile marketing firm based in London and San Francisco, which struggled to find global marketing managers with the right mix of analytical, marketing, and technology savvy to work with its clients in 40 countries. More

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