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Would you turn over the keys to your social networks to your employers for them to scan for new hires? Alright, look at it another way: What if your employer offered you rewards – cash, vacations, events – if you brought your friends to come work with you?

That's the simple premise of Careerify, a startup from a young Waterloo engineer that's attracted some big-name corporate clients. Careerify wants to gamify, as it were, the recruiting process by asking corporate employees to refer friends from within their own social network lists.

"Recruiting is hard," says Harpaul Sambhi, Careerify's founder, who graduated from Waterloo in 2009. "What we do is go into the employee's social network and make every employee a recruiter."

But part of the idea is that, in an age when everybody and their dog has five hundred Facebook "friends," including the Facebook friends who are dogs, it can be hard to remember who's doing what offhand. So Careerify gives a digital assist by sifting through an employee's contacts for them.

If an employee chooses to participate, they will let Careerify access their contact lists on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, much like any other web-based app would. Careerify's algorithms then cross-reference the job openings in the company's existing HR backend with what it can discern about their friends, based on their interests, education, location, and even factors like how often they appear to travel, and where they check in from.

Recognizing that the algorithm will only go so far, Careerify only uses this process to winnow down a shortlist of candidates, which it presents to the user. The user can then proceed to recommend that any of the friends in question go ahead and apply for the job; the software sends the recommended friend a message, linking them back to the job page on the company's HR software. (Harpaul says Careerify integrates with a number of enterprise-level HR applications.)

In exchange, the software lets employers structure incentives for employees to take part, be they cash bonuses or activities. Harpaul says one client, Microsoft Europe, offered employees trips to a racetrack where they could drive Lamborghinis and the like.

Of course, for this to work, companies have to entice their employees to sign up for the scheme in the first place. To do this, Careerify targets employees based on their existing social networks in the company. If your co-workers are using the service, it will target you too. "Our systems will name employees around you," says Harpaul. "We want you to see the names of your colleagues, and talk over by the water cooler."

Launched in 2013, the service has four full-time employees and has been accepted into the OneEleven accelerator program that's being run by OMERS Ventures. Already, however, Careerify has snagged clients like Deloitte and Blizzard Activision, and licenses on a per-seat basis. It's a win-win for companies who can pay steep recruiting fees and employees alike, Harpaul says.

"Companies are reducing their cost-per-hire and increasing retention," he says. "Not only do you get a cash or monetary compensation, but you get to work with your friends."

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