In 2007, there was a lot of publicity around recruiting in virtual environments, especially Second Life. Since then “real life” employment events have been held in Second Life, but the concept hasn’t exactly taken off. So the recent announcement of an Amazon Job Fair in Second Life was newsworthy.
But all in all, there seem to be some significant barriers to the development of recruiting in a complex virtual space like Second Life. For one thing, the number of Second Lifers is shrinking, and they are the folks more likely to attend an event or connect with a recruiter on SL. For those not already into Second Life, there’s a significant learning curve involved with attending an event, especially with the less tech-savvy. And the general idea/ambiance of Second Life is not appealing to everyone.
On the other hand, Sgt. STAR–the “virtual recruiter” at GoArmy–is user friendly and might have real appeal, especially for the Army’s younger target audience. Also, it’s a good fit for their “new Army” message. The whole idea of a virtual recruiter works well in a situation like this, where visitors may not want to interact with a real person, but will appreciate the illusion of a personalized connection.
There’s a very nice example of a businesslike virtual guide (a “real” person, not an animation) on the website at Shaker Communications, a company that offers an array of virtual options for recruiting advertising. Meet her on the “Who We Are” page.
Shaker also creates virtual job fairs, and with some success apparently. A recent event they produced with CTJobs “drew over 1,800 job seekers from across the state, with 14 local companies exhibiting and recruiting for hiring opportunities.” And their exclusive event for Allstate attracted a similar number of attendees. According to Allstate, “the virtual environment made it easy for candidates to submit their resumes for opportunities that matched their qualifications, have a live chat with our Allstate recruiters, or set up a phone interview.”
None of these instances seems to indicate a virtual recruiting boom on the horizon–but it’s still true that the possibilities seem interesting, especially for certain types of employers and certain target audiences. So the space is at least worth watching.
(Thanks to Pathfinder Linden for the snapshot of a panel discussion hosted on June 23, 2006 in Second Life by the Berkman Center at Harvard University.)
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