How to play a game and get a job

The San Francisco-based company is now gamifying the job search for its 4 million users. Identified has incorporated game-like features to encourage users to continually bulk up their profiles and add just the right elements. Co-founder and co-chief executive Brendan Wallace said “Generation Y is nearly invisible to employers, so this technique is key.”

Recruiters have started to practice “social recruiting,” perusing Facebook profiles for young potential applicants. But generally there is not enough relevant information gleaned from reading someone’s “About me.” Identified provides a Facebook app where seekers and recruiters can meet and have a more meaningful interaction. 90 percent of Identified users are under 35, so this is great for recent college grads looking for that first “real job” or the next step forward, but it’s also a gold mine for recruiters looking to hire young talent.

To use Identified, you connect through Facebook to start building up your short form resume, and game-like rewards provide an incentive to outline more detailed information and build up your profile. Then you get an Identified “score” that measures how desirable you are to employers. was founded by Wallace and Adeyemi Ajao just two years ago, but the company has grown considerably in the last 6 months and so far has raised $5.5 million from venture capitalists. (

>On the Identified blog, an infographic entitled “Play A Game, Get A Job” outlines the evolution of gamification and its practical, real-world applications such as online dating, fitness programs, energy consumption, and the hiring process. (

Identified isn’t the only one gamifying the job search. Guy Krief of Upstream designed a competitive test that could identify people with a special blend of skills that would be difficult to discern from a normal resume. The “Upstream Challenge” is open to anyone who would like to try it and includes seven timed exercises featuring mathematical problems, matching emotions to hypothetical work scenarios, and other challenges to measure a candidate’s qualifications. Facebook itself has posted complex programming puzzles to test large numbers of applicants, and the practice has indeed led to hires.

According to Gabe Zichermann, gamification is just getting started. “It is not about making a literal game. More often it’s about taking elements of games and repurposing them.” A December 2011 study by Gartner, Inc. predicts “70 percent of the world’s top 2,000 companies will use game techniques as a behavioral motivator to recruit, train, and enhance employee performance, as well as to encourage new ideas, improve employee health, or build customer loyalty, among other goals.” (

At this point, the possibilities for gamification are beyond what we can even imagine. Creative uses of gaming like this one will start to pick up, and we’ll begin to see even more intriguing applications. What the job search model has going for it is it takes something boring, something most people pretty much dread and would rather put off until later, and makes it more fun — as well as more lucrative.

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