So far this year a trickling of well-known multi-national recruitment agencies (eg Semper International, Manpower, Kelly Services, Sapphire Technologies / Vedior Asia Pacific) have established a presence / built an island in SL.
Beyond the hype of the agency-initiated press releases, it is interesting to see how each of these agencies brand themselves to a SL audience.
For example, on Kelly Island you enter a world that is more like being in an episode of the Simpsons than a traditional corporate setting, not too dissimilar to the branding used in the Kelly Jobs Expo that was recently hosted by Kelly Services Australia. This is not meant to sound by any means like a negative. Maybe the look isn’t to everybody’s liking, but one gets the feeling that Kelly Services is trying to create a fun and relaxed environment. Past events have included live jazz, blues and country concerts by SL residents - such events are a good idea to draw the crowds. On their website they mention that the Island will “…provide in-world residents an on-line, interactive gaming experience where avatars are able to participate in a range of job-scenario adventures”. Great concept, and although I feel their job-scenario adventures need a bit more work, I can see what they are trying to achieve. Thanks Kelly for the free gifts for my avatar!
In comparison to Kelly’s Island, Manpower Island has a more First Life look, with very funky designer furniture in the lobby. As soon as I teleported I was approached by a staff member. Trust me, it’s a novel experience to be approached in such a proactive way. Interestingly, I found Manpower Island to be less about jobs and more about engagement - Manpower were engaging my avatar in relaxed conversation and building up a profile, via a variety of methods, about who I was - without once asking for my CV or sitting me down in a meeting room. Quite possibly Manpower are using their Island to tailor their SL offering over time once they have built up a profile of their visitors. If you are new to SL one option is to take their obstacle course, as again staff were on hand to show new residents the ropes. As you can tell I was impressed by the staff presence.
Sapphire Technologies, part of the Vedior Group, is the first specialist IT recruitment company in Australia and New Zealand to establish a SL presence. Sapphire Technologies SL HQ only launched this month but even so I still feel that it is a bit of a work in progress. In saying this all Vedior company logos are on show as well as a number of features, such as vending machines offering free t-shirts for one’s avatar. If you want to do something recreational, you can create and take away a virtual object from their sandbox. The main building looks modern but quite office-like. According to a press release I should be able to play pool in the penthouse of the main building, listen to podcasts etc. Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to get inside the building. It may be a silly query, but I sent an instant message requesting some help - a week or so later, I’m still to receive an answer. I will cut them some slack as they have just started out. On my first visit during NZ and Australian office hours I was the only avatar in sight. On my second visit there were a few more avatars around, so things are probably picking up. It is interesting to come across ‘rules’ as you enter a virtual business - damn, I will ensure I put clothes on my avatar next time I visit or in fact attend any job interview, even though this may not reflect my personal brand. My avatar is temporarily wearing a bright green Sapphire t-shirt with pride - I’m spreading the brand on my SL journeys.
Semper International claims to be the first staffing company to open a SL employment office - see related 1 March 2007 press release. I like how they have listed their SL office under the Contact Us page of their website alongside their First Life locations. They are using their site to recruit people in the creative / print / graphic arts industries. They have been testing the waters with their target audience via hosting events and presentations in SL recently. The advantage of being an early adopter is that you can trial things I guess.
Are you ready to jump on the bandwagon?
Overall, I believe if you are a company or agency and you want to start up a presence on SL then think about what brand you want to portray, who your target audience is, and what are the best ways to connect with the passive or active jobseeker. Think about your strategy. Your SL brand may be different from your First Life brand. Do you plan to have your recruiters spend all or much of their time in SL, or would you rather rely mainly on having drop boxes for CVs, telephones, etc. Just having some pixels on a page and calling it XYZ Island doesn’t necessarily warrant a press release or constitute a working model. How is your SL presence going to enhance your First Life business? Will setting up shop send the message you desire to your clients? Also understand the SL residents - do they want to play games or come to a party at your place? What is going to make them visit and visit again? Or should you go and seek the jobseeker out in high traffic areas - similar to the approach Yell have been taking in the UK. Or, to throw the cat among the pigeons, maybe SL isn’t for your business and you should instead think about online social networking.
There are advantages to being a trailblazer or fast follower in SL. It is still relatively early days and being a little bit of a cynic is OK. I think it’s best to have a foot in all camps - I can see the benefits and the reservations, and I wish the early adopters all the best. The companies and agencies that have used SL for recruitment have claimed some success and learnt some early lessons. I look forward to reading future press releases on the topic.
P.S. a message to all SL recruiters - please don’t offer my avatar a coffee and hors d’oeuvres in your plush SL offices - come on, what’s the point? Can’t you tell my avatar doesn’t eat and doesn’t want to ruin their figure?
Paul Jacobs Engage