Archive for June, 2007

Second Life and recruitment – trailblazers, fast followers, and cynics (Part 2)

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

This post continues from Part 1, with a focus on the very interesting proposition of recruitment (whoops “Vecruitment”) in Second Life (SL). Part 3 (coming soon) will explore recruitment in SL even more, by looking at what some of the recruitment agencies are doing.

Hey, got a spare US$15,000 - $25,000?

Apparently that’s how much it cost some big-name companies to get a spot on SL’s TMP Worldwide Island. The inaugural virtual job fair called Network in World (NiW™) ran on the island from 15 – 17 May and was the brainchild of recruitment-advertising firm TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications. On offer were ‘first life’ jobs in areas such as financial services, engineering, information technology and sales, and executive management positions across six participating companies: eBay, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Microsoft, Sodexho, T-Mobile and Verizon.

future

hp

Unfortunately I missed this event, but one of my friends in job search mode decided to give it a go. He was attracted by the opportunity to meet directly with internal recruiters and to chat with hiring managers. This person was new to SL but TMP offered him online training to make him comfortable with the basics of SL before the event. In hindsight he regrets not taking up this offer. Before the event he emailed his ‘first life’ CV and preferred interview times to a few companies and one in particular was interested in meeting up in SL.

He spent the time before his appointment refining the appearance of his avatar. Should he look like himself? Should he wear a suit? Should he don a pair of angel wings just to look angelic? By the way, TMP reported after the event that some jobseeker avatars neglected to put on any clothes, one came as a Troll and one as a mermaid. My friend decided to morph his avatar to look as much like himself as possible – the extreme-makeover edition of himself that is. He didn’t know how to source an Italian suit (or any suit) for his avatar so instead wore smart-casual attire.

The interview:
On the day of the appointment my friend didn’t feel as nervous as he would have if he was readying for a first-life interview. He logged into SL and turned up at TMP Island 5 minutes early. He was then welcomed to the Island and teleported via the interviewing company’s “telehub” to their virtual offices on the island. He was then welcomed by a company representative and taken up the stairs to the interview space, where a company recruiter was waiting.

Recruiter: Welcome, please take a seat. Oh, you don’t seem to be able to sit down.
Candidate: I’m trying, honestly. I don’t know how to sit in SL. Do you mind if I hover [fly] above my seat whilst we talk?
Recruiter: No, that’s fine.

Once over this initial embarrassment the interview went really well. My friend enjoyed using Instant Messaging, which actually gave him time to think of his responses and provide specific answers without those embarrassing silences that can happen in a first-life interview. He did find that the line between his two lives blurred – for instance, both his avatar name and first-life name were used. He did feel less intimidated in SL and commented he could be more candid and ask questions that he may not have asked in his first life. It was more fun, he said, and a bit like chatting to a friend. He also “met” some employees during the process and as a consequence he felt he got probably a greater feel for the culture of the organisation.

The outcome:
My friend didn’t progress to the next stage in the process, a meeting in first life. Out of the 749 job seekers who requested NiW interviews, 209 were scheduled and only 150 actually interviewed. Apparently some job seekers who were scheduled for virtual interviews were confused about when they were supposed to attend, because they live in different time zones. Many ended up missing their time slots, but it has been reported that the companies followed up and conducted SL interviews after the event.

Most of the comments from TMP and the representative companies have been favourable and it seems to have been a learning experience for all. I get the feeling that for TMP and some of the representative companies it has been a branding exercise – it helps them be seen as technology savvy and cutting edge.

TMP says it will host another virtual job fair in August. I predict there will some fast followers who will emulate this type of event.

Companies doing it by themselves: hal

There is a smattering of recognisable multi-nationals with a SL presence. Many are doing innovative things to try and engage with jobseekers, like running events to attract traffic. It’s a smart move because one of the problems I have noticed is that many SL recruiting offices look like ghost towns.

desk

In Part 3 (coming soon) we will cover some of the other recruitment agencies I put in this trailblazer category.

Paul Jacobs
Engage

Second Life and recruitment – trailblazers, fast followers and cynics (Part 1)

Friday, June 8th, 2007

second life

I guarantee that you are going to hear a lot about Second Life (SL) in the years to come – be it good, bad or ugly. Even if you haven’t heard about SL before or don’t care much for it now, you may find yourself hooked before long.I’m going to put my cards on the table. I was rather cynical about SL a few months ago. Do I really have the time for this virtual world of virtual land, people, communities, products and services? I’m busy enough in my first life – I already have a MySpace and Bebo presence, and I had to wonder if I have the bandwidth for another venture. The hook for me was the apparent commercial opportunities in having a SL presence. I was also interested in whether any companies were using SL for hiring staff and if any recruitment agencies had set up shop. Hey, it wasn’t that long ago that I heard some clients say, nobody will ever apply for a job online. Who do you believe? I was drawn to investigate.

Becoming a resident

I am now a SL ‘resident’, much to the dismay of my friends and family. I designed my own stunningly good looking, very successful ‘avatar’ (my online persona / characterisation) and started teleporting and flying (yes, flying) around this virtual world. I was now a pixellated being and could change my appearance and life at any time.

Initial impressions

My initial impressions of SL were mixed. I thought the functionality on offer was mind blowing and the streaming 3D graphics very impressive. It was like being in my own cartoon or operating my own flight simulator. However, it did take quite a while to get my bearings, and to learn the art of movement and the ins and outs of how this foreign world worked. Some places I visited were conspicuously empty of avatars, whilst on one occasion I was bombarded with flying x-rated body parts. I met some interesting avatars, from all around the first life world (but mainly first life Europeans). You meet a lot of new second lifers – they are the ones that bang into objects, go for walks on the ocean floor or just stand aimlessly looking into space.

Marketing and commercialism

After every visit to SL I come away thinking about the commercial opportunities. Would my avatar like the latest Nike shoes, a tattoo, designer jeans, the latest hairstyle, ray bans, a new house with a swimming pool and sea views, my own tropical island, a Ferrari, or to learn a new language? I use the SL currency, Linden Dollars – converted from my first life currency. While I’m in shopping mode, maybe I will get those latest Nike Air Zoom’s sent to my first life letterbox.

I notice that a food island has recently emerged, where you can share recipes, have cooking lessons, and buy at the supermarket 24/7. Some big name brands are behind this, building a community of loyal followers and providing a niche service. NZ-based Harcourts has set up a virtual office in SL, where you click on a screen displaying listings that take you to the first life Harcourts website. Harcourts have also made some deals buying and selling SL property and are in island buying mode with the intention to subdivide.

coke

Many global brand names already have a presence in SL or are in the process of launching – live music events seem to be a popular way to draw in the avatars. I find some of the stores and kiosks for some of these brands to be placed in destinations that I wouldn’t have thought necessarily matched their brand values. However, I have heard that the branding of some brands like Coca-Cola have been copied and used without permission. Having a mega-brand in a destination seems to legitimise that area as a hip place to hang out. I’m not quite sure whether some businesses are there for purely money-making purposes or for building their brand, or a combination of the two. I think it is early days and some businesses are taking a suck it and see type approach.

What about recruitment in SL? This space is really starting to heat up. Check out Part 2 coming soon.

Paul Jacobs
Engage