Jagex stands as the UK’s largest independent games studio employing over 550 skilled professionals. This achievement requires a state of the art recruitment strategy and a recruitment team ‘hard-wired’ in to the global talent pool.

We believe that our world-class online representation through social media channels, a comprehensive global events calendar, our refined and personable careers site and our highly trained industry specific recruitment team have made us one of the pioneers of truly successfully direct talent sourcing.

During 2012 Jagex Games Studio recruitment team faced a number of difficult challenges:

  1. Recruit the world’s best games development talent for the next technological advance of a Guinness World Record breaking MMORPG – “RuneScape” with over 215 million subscribers (Java, C++, low poly 3D Artists, UX Designers, RPG specific games designers)
  2. Quickly grow an internal development team behind a Hasbro IP backed online shooter, “Transformers Universe” with its own completely separate technical skill requirements. (C#, C++, Lua Scripters, Hard Surface 3D Artists, Project Managers, Web Systems Developers)
  3. The creation of a third party publishing team to allow Jagex to move in to the games publishing domain and establish itself as the premium games portal of choice in the UK (External Producers, Publishing Directors, Product Managers, Senior Designers)
  4. Complete all of the above with absolute minimum agency expenditure as quickly as possible whilst ensuring no sacrifice in quality.

Recruitment agencies cost you time as well as money

There’s no doubt that a well-considered and specialised PSL can be a great asset to your recruitment strategy. It’s even true that having a number of quality agencies at your disposal can improve your direct sourcing and help improve your brand; however, a quality service such as a recruitment agency you can trust can come at a great cost.

During our 2012 recruitment campaign, time became our most valuable commodity – interfacing regularly with over 40 internal hiring managers each with specialist demands, Boolean searching a host of CV databases, engaging with candidates via social media, building talent pool projects in LinkedIn Recruiter, all within the time constraint of a normal working day, and then the phone rings……whether it’s an agency on your PSL or not they are specifically trained to keep you on the phone as long as possible, to qualify every inch of the job specification you have posted on your website and to establish their best chance at making a fee. Agencies work with a portfolio of clients to ensure consistent revenue.

What implication does this have on the service they offer you? Firstly, their clients will tend to fill a certain sector or specialise in a certain technical area, Java for example. So it should come as no surprise that the candidate they find for your Java role will also be interviewing with a number of other clients in their portfolio. Say you work with them at 15% and another client operates with them at 20%, where do you think the agent will focus on placing the candidate? Remember that you’re working with a KPI driven service where you’re only as good as your last deal. Can you afford to waste time reaching this point in the process only to lose the perfect candidate due to a hard sell on the other company’s behalf?

You are the best promoter of your brand

You should live and breathe the company you recruit for and be able to communicate its core values and future aims with genuine passion and enthusiasm. We have the benefit of recruiting for one of the most exciting companies in the UK right now. Pioneering the F2P Games market, delivering a product with over 215 million registered users and developing tech created by some of the greatest minds in the country. Compare this pitch to that of an agent who may read something along the lines of “yeah, they have a pension and free fruit I think”. It’s clear who you want to sell your brand – the people inside.

I can count on one hand the list of agencies I trust with selling our company values and vision and even then, how can we ultimately be sure that this information does not become diluted? If you plan to rely on agencies you will find yourself constantly keeping them informed and repeating the same information over and over again, but how much of the important stuff actually reaches the candidate? You should become a subject matter expert on your company and thus, its most effective salesperson.

Invest in the best tools – track results and respond to changes

There have been a number of recent online articles stating that the challenge of finding candidates has been removed due to the use of social media and people’s expanding digital footprints. This couldn’t be truer in the games industry; we’ve been leading the way users communicate, share content and connect with each other on the internet for years. That being said, games developers can be a somewhat unsociable lot, often hiding away in the far reaches of the internet in very specialist, ultra-technical discussion forums.

Staying up to date with the most advanced search tools on the market will certainly help you here. At Jagex we invest in LinkedIn Recruiter, a state of the art ATS, a number of social media aggregators and an extensive and global events calendar. Although these people are easier to find than they would have been 10 years ago, you’re still going to have to turn over a lot of stones in a number of strange places to find that star candidate. Also remember that anyone can invest in these tools; it’s becoming world class experts in their usage that will allow you to source the very best and stay ahead of your competition.

We’re a firm believer in always being able to improve what we do and so we have set up solid metrics and feedback forms allowing us to view and evaluate our performance almost daily. This helps us see where we are and what we can improve on. We are also able to make a call on whether we should continue doing certain things including which agencies have performed the best for us and what job boards we see the best return on investment from.

The candidate experience should be flawless

Everyone is a potential new employee to the organisation, whether now or 3 years from now and we understand this. The candidate experience for us starts off even before a candidate has applied for a job here, via social media channels and our own careers site.

We integrate social media into our daily activities by keeping our followers engaged and updated via a host of social media channels such as: our personal LinkedIn accounts, the LinkedIn careers page, Facebook and Twitter. Each social media channel’s message is tailored to the audience and covers a mixture of everything from game updates, interviews with staff, social activities and the food in the staff canteen, to key tips on how to get into the games industry and pictures in and around the studio. By doing this, we are humanising the brand and making people feel part of the “Jagex family”, allowing outsiders to gain an insight into the inner workings of the studio.

Once they arrive at the studio for an interview, all candidates are given an in-depth studio tour by a member of the recruitment team who fully understands the core values and mission and by this time, has a personal relationship with the candidate. This allows the candidate to get a feel for the environment they will be working in and the people they will be working with.

Successful candidates currently residing outside of a reasonable commuting distance are offered support both financially and non-financially. This could include a relocation allowance, tailored guides on where to start looking when moving to Cambridge as well as a “local secrets” guide to where the best places are to eat, drink or activities that are a must locally and much more.

Everyone is a recruiter – incentivise the brand ambassadors

Jagex is a firm believer in “Everyone is a recruiter!”

Candidates who receive a positive experience with Jagex will go on to tell people of their experience. Thus prompting the brand and encouraging people to want to explore opportunities with the organisation further. This is one of the reasons why the candidate experience is really important to us. We incentivise employees within the business by encouraging them to recommend people they feel would make a great addition to the “Jagex family”, offering “recommendation bonuses” to all successful hires.

To summarise, by humanising the whole recruitment process and being the biggest ambassador for your brand as well as investing in the right tools with a large social media and event presence, you too could reduce your cost per hire to record breaking levels.

Authors: John Chalkley and Sara McNaught are Talent Acquisition Specialists at Jagex Games Studio

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