How Enova programmers gamified recruiting

At Enova International, which Computerworld named to its 2013 Best Places to Work in IT list, it's the IT staff, rather than just recruiters, who are actively bringing in new talent. The financial service firm’s rapid growth has created a strong demand for IT professionals. CIO Fred Lee has responded by budgeting 5% salary increases this year, increasing the bonus budget by 25% -- and sending senior software engineers Trey Springer and Pete Brousalis into the field in search of new programming talent.

“Pete and I spend 20% of our time on recruiting-related activities,” says Springer. To attract students, the pair visit college campuses and recruiting events and host a hackathon event called No Limit Code'Em. Brousalis and Springer collaborated to develop a poker server that acts as “the house” for poker games. They challenge students to write a poker player program that can win in a match that pits them against the house as well as player programs developed by other individuals or teams. “Anyone can come. We provide pizza and they’ll sit for six or seven hours working on writing a poker player,” Brousalis says.

No Limit Code 'Em

At the end of the game, Enova awards prizes to the winners. “It’s kind of weird, but it’s been very successful for us. We’ve gotten quite a few recruits,” he says.

The initiative has also helped Enova meet its goals of finding and hiring top talent. “We have nine new developers starting and we’re looking for more. We can’t hire fast enough,” Springer says.

Sending developers out to find developers makes sense, he says, because they can make sure every hire is a good match for the team “We make sure we have the best quality people working for us,” he says.

While sending out software engineers to recruit does take away from time available for current projects in a very busy office, Springer says CIO Fred Lee is thinking strategically. “We still have a lot to do. But recruiting is a long-term investment [so] we’re willing to spend the time,” he says.

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