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

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.


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

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