Social networking | Who needs the real world?

second-life2.gif Following on from a previous posting, Working practices | How will the future of work look?, I was conducting research for upcoming blogging features, including a guide to blogging and a focus on social networking, when I came across the virtual world website Second Life, which describes itself as:

“A 3D online digital world imagined, created & owned by its residents.”

On further investigation, I then came across an article in the Wall Street Journal titled: A Job Interview You Don’t Have to Show Up For . The Wall Street journalist writes:

“It’s now possible to meet with recruiters without actually showing up for a job interview.

Some employers are experimenting with Second Life, the online virtual community owned by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, to screen prospective hires. The program allows job seekers to create a computer-generated image to represent themselves – known as an ‘avatar’ – and communicate with executives of prospective employers as though they were instant-messaging.”“A number of big companies put the new medium to a test last month, when recruitment advertising firm TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications LLC hosted a virtual job fair with employers such as Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Verizon Communications and Sodexho Alliance SA, a food and facilities management services company.

On Second Life, job seekers who are less tech-savvy are finding they can wind up shooting themselves in their virtual feet. When they start, some people have a hard time designing and controlling their avatars. Stephan Dowler, 37, a chef in Frederick, Maryland, US, went through an online training course offered by TMP before the recruitment event.

“I spent six hours working on the character and figuring out how to get around,” says Dowler, who applied for a job as an executive chef at Sodexho.

He named his avatar Estephan Dollinger. “I gave him a big nose and brown eyes like me,” he says. But he couldn’t figure out how to dress the avatar in a suit for the interview, so Estephan showed up wearing jeans and a pullover.

Dowler didn’t have any major technical problems, although during the job interview, he couldn’t figure out how to manipulate the avatar to sit in the chair – so he sat it on top instead (others at the event began floating in the air while doing their interviews). It sometimes became confusing when different Sodexho employees asked him questions at the same time, he says.

Mishaps aren’t limited to job seekers; company executives aren’t generally accustomed to interviewing in the virtual world either. At a Second Life recruiting event this spring, hosted by Bain & Co, the global management consultancy, a partner’s avatar slumped over by accident and looked as if it were asleep.”

Reading this article had me in hysterics. The article goes on to point out that while there may be some confusing technical glitches this can easily be laughed off between candidates and potential employers.

It seems that the virtual world is increasingly becoming more sophisticated and complex, and unless the business world embraces these new and fast-growing technologies, they will be left far behind.

I really believe employers and human resource management need to move with the times and start exploring the whole concept of blogging and social networking in the business community to keep up with new and evolving recruitment trends, to engage with passive jobseekers and focus on employer branding, while improving your rankings on Google.

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2 Responses to Social networking | Who needs the real world?

  1. Taran Rampersad 18 July 2007 at 1:01 pm #

    Frankly, if they come into Second Life and don’t learn the basics – they are dullards. Taking the time to make sure that one doesn’t look like an idiot during an interview is sensible. And one thing not mentioned in all of this is that corporate avatars have a tendency to look the same as one another because people don’t put the personal effort into it. Rather sad, actually.

  2. Adam 18 July 2007 at 3:26 pm #


    I’d suggest that the learning curve on Second Life is still quite steep, especially if you’re not familiar with the basic concepts of 3D games, where SL derives many of its ideas.

    But I’d agree that anyone who attempts to run before they can walk is something of a dullard.