Virtual Recruiting: Meaning, Channels, the Impact on Business Organizations

Introduction

Jane woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, and turned on her computer to dress up her avatar (a computer user’s online representation of themselves), as opposed to her physical self, to attend an online job fair. At the same time, Deanna logged into her LinkedIn account and read an e-mail from a recruiter who had just reviewed her online profile and wanted to discuss a job opportunity with her. Both Jane and Deanna are top college graduates looking for new jobs at cutting-edge companies. They rarely open the newspaper to read classified ads; instead, they use the internet exclusively to conduct their job searches.

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Jane and Deanna are good examples of how the job search process has evolved in recent decades. Traditional channels of recruiting, such as newspapers and in-person career fairs, no longer effectively reach all of an organization’s desired talent pool. Virtual recruiting is a new and creative solution to recruit these candidates. The world has advanced technologically and so has the recruiting process. More and more people are using the internet around the world. In fact, it is estimated that consumer IP traffic surpassed business IP traffic in 2008.1 This has huge implications for organizations as they try to beat their competitors to find the top talent using virtual and traditional recruiting tools.

In the world, today organizations have become more creative and ever conscious about their competitors’ actions. This has led to stiff competition as every organization tries to scramble for a competitive space in order to survive. Consequently, the business industry has witnessed numerous chronological changes ranging from product design, organizational structure, service delivery; pricing strategies, human resource management, production, etc. This has also been fueled by the current global economic downturn that has negatively impacted almost all big economies of the world. Virtual recruiting has become a common practice in most contemporary organizations. 2

The essence of the existence of many business entities is to achieve profitable growth. This can only be possible through the adoption of modern technology. Virtual recruiting is one such technology. The economic environment has become unpredictable; many top managers are puzzled by constant uncertainties. With increased competitive pressure, it becomes very important that organizations devise new technological methods of production. And virtual recruiting is strategically positioned to achieve better economic efficiencies by reducing a number of personnel required to carry out recruiting.

What is Virtual Recruiting?

(VR) is a means of finding and soliciting job candidates using various creative online channels and tools. VR can help organizations be more efficient and cost-effective in their recruiting by:3

  • Allowing organizations to reach their candidates more easily – Organizations are able to meet candidates anytime and from anywhere in the world, saving thousands of dollars in travel expenses
  • Spending less money on advertising to stand out Organizations with smaller budgets have the opportunity to showcase their uniqueness online and be placed on a more even playing field against larger corporations as they leverage online tools to recruit talent
  • Reducing the risk of a bad hire – VR allows organizations to conduct easy additional screening of candidates as part of their recruiting process, either through preliminary pre-screen questions or virtual interviews, thereby reducing the risk of bad hires
  • Catering recruitment efforts to specific markets – VR can help organizations better target and reach specific areas of the workforce
  • Developing candidates’ perceptions of the organization – Organizations that use VR techniques for their recruiting needs portray an image as being tech-savvy and cutting edge.

Different Channels of Virtual Recruiting

While VR has many benefits, it is a broad term and covers various channels of online recruiting. Some common examples include:

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  • Corporate Websites: Organizations can build recruitment-related websites on their existing corporate website to provide information about the culture, the leadership, and the current job opportunities in the organization
  • Online Job Boards: Organizations can post their job openings on websites that deal with employment opportunities. Examples: Monster.com, Craig list, my jobs eye.com, brightermonday.com, Bestjobs.com, etc.
  • Social Networking Sites: Organizations can use websites that build online communities based on users’ interests, backgrounds, careers, etc. These sites connect people and build networks online. Examples: Facebook, My Space, Linked-In, and 6Degrees
  • Video Resumes: Organizations can allow/encourage candidates to make short video clips to stand out from the crowd and to showcase their skills and experience in a more creative way. Video resumes allow employers to better understand the skills the candidate has, such as creativity, confidence, communication skills, etc.
  • Online Job Fairs/Interview: Organizations can host interviews or job fairs virtually and meet potential candidates through their avatars. SecondLife is a popular website that allows people to interact with each other online as they would in real life
Channel Benefits Downfalls
Corporate Websites
  • Cheap and flexible
  • Complete control over visual and content of site
  • Organizations are able to create pre-screening questions to go up with their job posting to help weed out unqualified candidates, saving them time and money
  • Does not fully reach high-quality potential candidates
  • Many candidates might not be aware of the organization and therefore, would not know to go to their site
  • Flood organizations with under-qualified candidates.
Online Job Boards
  • Able to reach broad-based audience
  • Does not reach passive job seekers
  • Can be expensive
  • Flood organizations with under-qualified candidates.
  • There are many job boards out there – candidates are confused as to which ones to use
Social Networking Sites
  • Organizations can search for high-quality candidates online by outlining specific criteria in the search engines
  • Ability to access high quality, passive job seekers that are not accessible elsewhere
  • Organizations can set up interactive meeting places, as well as advertise on these sites
  • Job hunters are able to market themselves to organizations by setting up profiles, listing work history and specific skills online
  • Users can potentially misuse these sites by using fake identities or providing false information to potential employers
  • Privacy issues
Video Resumes
  • Video resumes allow employers to get a better feel for certain skills the candidate has, such as creativity, confidence, communication skills, etc.
  • Can be career limiters for candidates if not done tastefully
  • Organizations need to be wary of discrimination issues (race, gender, disabilities, etc.)
Online Job Fairs/ Interviews
  • Allows organizations to screen candidates as they would in real life and view the clips immediately online, saving time and money by eliminating the first round of in-person interviews.3
  • Can see another side of the candidate based on how they set up their avatar
  • Enhances company brand for being innovative and using virtual recruiting as a tool for recruiting
  • More targeted towards technical candidates (software engineers, etc.)
  • Potential misrepresentation of the candidate as they come as an avatar
  • Communication through the internet and online tools becomes equally difficult to study somebody’s mood through an internet message4
  • Virtual meetings are associated with big risks, this is because it may be very difficult to identify whoever is speaking, whether it is a stranger or not. This can plunge an organization into a big security risk. In the world, insecurity has become a major concern and its impact is largely felt in the business environment5

Deeper Dive into Social Networking Sites and Online Job Fairs/Interview

Due to the growing interest and trend towards companies using social networking sites and online job fairs/interviews for their recruiting needs, a more in-depth discussion of those tools and their implications are provided below.

Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites have been on corporation’s radars recently. With millions of users already signed up onto popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc., and a growth rate of 25%, organizations cannot miss the opportunity to leverage these sites and reach a large potential labor pool. The statistics for these sites are noteworthy.

Exhibit 1

Social Networking Growth by Worldwide Region

As seen in Exhibit 1, social networking continues to grow significantly around the world from 2007 to 2008, with the biggest jump in the Middle East at 66% and Europe at 35%.

Exhibit 2

Worldwide Growth among Selected Social Networking Sites

Exhibit 2 shows Facebook to be the fastest growing social networking site in the world with a 153% change from 2007 to 2008. HI5 is also growing quickly at a change of 100%, while the popular My Space site seems to have slowed down with only a 3% growth rate.

Online social networking is growing quickly. Facebook alone has had an average of 250,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007 and their number of active users has been doubling every 6 months! 6

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Second Life is also known to be a social network site. It is run by Linden Labs. There are however other sites like Entropia Universe. This is viewed more as a game than a virtual world. The reason is that the participants using the site do not create any content. The existence of Second Life is determined by the participants and hence the view as a virtual world besides being a video game. Any change that is made on the site by an avatar affects the existence of the site and the experiences of other participants in the site.

As compared to other virtual worlds, participants within Second Life enjoy more freedom. The site has more guidelines for its use but users have more freedom over what they are allowed to do unlike in such sites as There.com. Some of the sites without much for their users only attract users whose interest is in the protection of their intellectual property and conduct. Second Life is possibly the largest virtual world. It boasts a user population of about two million people across the globe and the figure keeps growing. Organizations have the ability to restrict access to the spaces allocated at the virtual world. This means that they can still enjoy their privacy within Second Life7.

There are virtual sites that are being provided by the software sites such as Fortella Systems, a company in San Mateo. In these virtual worlds companies like IBM can operate in private behind the company firewalls. Companies are now interested in virtual sites that will have significant value in the human resource departments. This is where recruitment comes in. Some companies have however found use for the virtual world in marketing. The companies that use Second Life for marketing purposes include Toyota, Circuit City and Sears.

Organizations have also joined social networking sites for presence in the online market and to advertise in this space. Many leverage the sites’ search engines to recruit high quality candidates online. By doing so, they are able to access passive job seekers that are not accessible elsewhere. Active job hunters are also able to market themselves to organizations by setting up profiles, listing work history and specific skills online. Organizations can learn more about the candidate through social networking profile pages than traditional resumes, which may be a good or bad thing for candidates. For example, personal photographs of candidates may or may not be appropriate. They could now be seen by potential employers. Organizations can set up interactive meeting places to meet with potential candidates online before bringing them in for an in-person interview. To fully take advantage of social networking sites, organizations need to ensure that they are part of and aligned with the correct social networks as this will impact the type of candidates they will potentially be connected to.

However, organizations need to be wary of users who potentially misuse these sites by setting up fake identities or providing false information to potential employers. There are also privacy and discriminatory issues that organizations should be cognizant of when using social networking sites as part of their recruitment strategy since some candidates’ information may now be online that would not normally be available in traditional paper resumes. For examples, personal facts about the candidates such as their favorite TV shows, membership to ethic communities, and photographs of themselves are now published and can be viewed by organizations.

Example of an organization that has successfully used social networking for recruitment

Dow Chemical Co.

Dow has created an in-house social network for recruiting and connecting its employees. Within 5 months of operation, Dow had over 5,300 Dow employees, retirees and former employees sign up onto the network. Because 40% of Dow’s workforce is set to retire in the next 5 years, this in-house network has been successful in helping to recruit employees as job postings are accessible by current and former employees through the site.8

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Job trends

The graph below displays the percentage of jobs in the virtual recruitment world. It shows the trend that has been taken by virtual recruitment between September 2007 and February 20099.

Job trends

Within that period of time, virtual recruiter jobs decreased by 33%.

On the other hand, the trend in the various recruitment sites as shown reflects an increase in the use of the virtual social network sites10.

Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Social networking job trends

Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Social networking job trends

The graph clearly mirrors percentages of jobs between September 2007 and February 2008. Within this period, Jobs that were netted through the site called Myspace increased by 5 percent, the least percentage increase considering that Facebook hit an increase of 567%, proving to be the fastest popularizing site for recruitment. Facebook has been showing increased use from the increase in users across the globe. Linkedin on the other hand increased by 261% within the six months while Social Networking jobs saw a 116% increase.

Online Job Fairs/Interviews

Sites like Second Life, where actual people operate in a real-world-like environment online through avatars, have gained popularity recently. In fact, organizations are finding themselves setting up operations in the online world to reach some of their targeted candidates. Organizations are opening employment offices on Second Life and to recruit candidates through online job fairs. This has huge benefits for them:

It allows organizations to meet with and screen candidates as they would in real life and view interview video clips immediately online, saving time and money by eliminating the first round of in-person interviews.

  • It allows organizations to meet with and screen candidates as they would in real life and view interview video clips immediately online, saving time and money by eliminating the first round of in-person interviews.11
  • Organizations are also able to see the candidate in a different perspective based on how they set up their avatar
  • It creates a more relaxed atmosphere for candidates so organizations can get to know candidates better
  • Organizations get a sense of presence in these virtual worlds that may be missed in a telephone screen12 For example, the organization can arrange their interview setting and dress up their recruiter avatar as they wish. By the same token, the candidate can dress and present themselves as they feel is representative.

Online job fairs are a fairly new concept but thousands of candidates are visiting them and many large companies, such as Microsoft, T-Mobile, Venison, EBay and Bain & Company, are starting to test them out.13

In using online worlds like Second Life to fulfill their recruitment needs, organizations should be wary of potential misrepresentation of candidate as they come as an avatar, something that they create as they wish. Also, there is only a limited talent pool that is aware of and comfortable using this channel. Therefore, this is targeted towards younger generations and those who are generally more technically inclined candidates such as software engineers, graphic designers, animators, etc.

Example of an organization that has successfully used online job fair for recruitment

TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications

TMP is the world’s largest independent recruitment advertising agency. It recently set up a TMP Island on Second Life where recruiters will be able to network with prospective candidates, host events and conduct employee presentations. In its first host online job fair in 2007, big companies such as Sodhexo, eBay and HP participated in the recruitment event and over 60,000 unique visitors attended. The job fair was so successful that TMP plans to hosts many more events like these in the near future.14

Making it in virtual interviews

Some scholars have compiled tips on making it in a virtual interview. A candidate needs to take advantage of information provided on how to go about the job fair. One has to know how the process works before venturing into it. Videos and instructions manuals are especially helpful. In addition, the candidate should take it upon themselves to know who is attending the interview besides making a choice on who to talk to before attending the job fair.

A candidate attending a real interview only needs to wake up and dress. There is more to it in the virtual recruitment. A candidate will need more preparation. Creating an avatar takes more time and s not like dressing up. However, to note is that a candidate should prepare for a virtual interview the same way that they would for a real interview. Before preparing, a candidate should read about the company with which they are attending the interview, their initiatives and leadership and culture. It would work best to talk to people who already work for that company so as to get the most concerning the organization. It would also help to make mutual connections with an employee of the particular company.

Differences and similarities with the real world interviews

Most of the rules that are applied in the real world job interviews also apply to the virtual interviews. One fact is that whether it is a virtual of real world, the candidate has to put it in mind that they are attending an interview for a job that is real. This means therefore that the candidate has to be professional in handling either. On the virtual interview, it is possible to be creative with one’s appearance unlike in the physical interview. At times though, candidates tend to overdo it and therefore end up losing a chance at a job15.

An interview in the virtual community is not in any way an alternative for a interview in person in the real world. The virtual interview in like an instant message to another person or like phone interview carried over the phone. With this in mind, it is obvious that the hiring teams as well as job seekers are still trying to discover new ways to go about the job recruitment process as well as interact with each other. For this reason, what one would think is so easy in the virtual recruitment may not be so. Schneider gives the case of a candidate who offered an interviewer a glass of beer at a virtual interview in the place of a resume. This would not take place in the real world. In a virtual interview, the people involved are real. They are also having actual communication. All the parties involved need to do is become comfortable in the environment they are in so that the conversation they have will be like any other people in the real world would hold16. With time, the candidate forgets that they are in a virtual environment and take on a normal stance.

On the part of the recruiters, the interview requires looking for the same qualities one would look for in a real interview. Such qualities include skills, ability to take on the job and knowledge relevant for the job. The candidate should fit in the organization’s culture.

Second Life is one of the virtual sites use by recruiters to conduct their recruitment processes. The environment is a bit relaxed at the site than it would be at the real world recruitment environment. This is despite the fact that the job being sought is real and the stress is of equal magnitude to think that one is being interviewed for a job. The biggest advantage for the candidate is that a candidate can hit the back button, something interviewees in the real world only wish they could do. The candidate can do this when they begin to answer a question in the interview. This is not possible in real life.

Most organizations that use virtual recruitment strategies are interested in looking for candidates who have up to date skills in the new technologies. The Vancouver Police Department is one of the companies using the Second Life site to recruit such talent. This will help them to fight cyber crime as reported by17. The real world recruitment may not be of much use in doing this as most of what is looked for is not in technological knowledge.

Implications of Recruiting Different Generational Groups

Up and coming VR tools like social networking and online job fairs are very effective for recruiting Gen Ys and Gen Xs because these groups are more technologically inclined than the older generational groups (Baby Boomers and Veterans). The impact of VR on each generational group is discussed below.

Gen Y (born 1982-2005)

Because Gen Ys are very technologically savvy, using various interactive media would be most effective for this group. Research shows that nearly 70% of young alumni (those who have graduated in the last 5 years) post their resumes on the internet, 53% prefer online networks to keep in touch, and 83% would use an online career center.18 VR channels such as Internet banner advertising, job boards, e-cards, social networking sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, and other non-traditional media such as text messaging, are other creative means to attract Gen Ys. In fact, 84% of social networking members are between the ages of 14 and 26, so to achieve the highest possible ROI organizations should tailor their brand to this age group.19 Interestingly, Gen Ys do not use virtual worlds for job searching, compared to Gen Xs. 18-24 year olds accounted for only 23.3% of the avatars and 15.7% of the hours in Second Life virtual world.20

Gen X (born 1961-1981)

Gen Xs are in the middle of their careers but, similar to Gen Ys, they are technically inclined and often use online mediums for their job search. They are willing to visit sites like Second Life to attend job fairs and to join online social networking opportunities. In fact, 25-44 year olds accounted for 59.2% of the avatars and 63% of the hours spent on Second Life21 and more than half of Facebook’s users are outside of college and their fastest growing demographic is those 25 years old and older.22 In addition to these VR tools, other interactive and alternative media are useful ways to reach this group. Examples include: job boards, Internet banner ads, RSS feeds, blogging, text messaging, streaming video, flash e-cards, e-mail marketing, splash pages, mobile media, radio, cable, coffee cup sleeves, and sporting event and/or program advertising.23 Organizations should pick and choose VR mediums that are relevant and specific to Gen Xs in order to effectively recruit them.

Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960)

Baby Boomers are less technologically inclined compared to Gen Xs and Gen Ys. While most have full knowledge of computers, they tend to use it for simpler applications (e.g., send and receive emails, quick budgeting, etc.).

Exhibit 3

Select Online and Mobile Activities of US Internet Users

As seen in Exhibit 3, only 13% of 55 to 64 year-olds are social networkers. Although younger Baby Boomers are slowly moving towards using online communities (such as Facebook), using VR tools may be less effective in reaching this group as they prefer to use traditional channels (e.g., newspaper ads) for their job searching. Older Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face interaction over having remote conversations using technology.24 They find technology to be impersonal.

Veterans (born 1925-1942)

Veterans are either retired or close to retiring and are unlikely to use online tools, should they be looking for a job. There would be negative implications in using VR to reach Veterans. As seen in Exhibit 3, Veterans, or 65+ year olds, have the lowest online and mobile activities out of all the age groups. In fact, only 4% use online social networking sites. Veterans prefer a direct and one-way communication channel, such as using the radio or television technology.25 As such, they may find VR practices overwhelming. Organizations risk veteran recruits self-selecting themselves out of the talent pool due to lack of strong computer skills. It could have an adverse reaction to recruiting this segment.

The Future of Virtual Recruiting

Recruiting is becoming more aggressive. This has been brought about by the fact that labor market has continued to become tough and employees are now demanding a higher remuneration to compensate them for the world’s occasional inflations. This trend is likely to persist for the next six to ten years. Recruitment today has gone a complete cycle of revolution. This is evidenced by the fact that long before recruiters used to trace candidates from colleges and universities, but today this trend has changed. Instead of employers looking for people it is the candidates looking for employers. 26

The employment market has become more competitive, this has compelled more employers to recruit or sub-contract new but prospective firms who will not be deterred to achieve their final results to the company. Different recruiters especially in the hospitality industry have now resorted to poaching their competitors’ best performing employees. Other firms even search for undergraduates who are still continuing their studies and virtual recruiting is being altered to match the changing trend. These include dry hiring, stealth hiring, and deep hiring.

Stealth hiring refers to secret recruitment of employees by another firm to build its talent base without the competitor’s knowledge. This kind of hiring is seen as a strategy to maintain its competitiveness and industry positioning. Dry hiring refers to taking a candidate through the normal elongated conscription and assortment procedures but not actually completing the process. The reason behind is to identify the growing talents in specific candidates. While deep hiring implies a process where organizations are opening and filling the vacancies which have been long overdue during recessions. Indeed the modern recruitment has changed.

The process of recruitment of staff can be very hectic for the recruit team at any organization. It can also be intimidating as well as stressful. The recruits are surrounded by other candidates who also want to have time with the recruit team. Most of the time, one spends time on the queue waiting for a chance at the job they want. With the stress of the wait, the nerves are not helped especially when one’s turn comes to face the recruiters.

Virtual recruitment saves both the recruiters as well as the recruits the hustle and bustle of the whole process. It gives one the chance to talk to the firms and organizations instantaneously. The virtual job fairs provide one with information about the organization they are interested in. They also allow application for particular jobs and communication with the recruit teams through instant messages.

Cyber recruitment is not very common currently. However, it is quickly moving into the market. An example of companies that have made it through virtual recruitment is KPMG27. The organization held a global career fair in 2008 online and established about 600 job bids from the fair. The interested candidates had a chance to watch the fairs live on the web. They paid visits to a virtual exhibit hall which had booths from across the globe and communicated with the managers and recruiters through instant messaging on the spot. With the virtual career fair, the recruits were able to learn about the available jobs and make applications for the jobs that suited them.

Second Life is, for instance, a popular recruitment site for most companies which use virtual recruitment. Interested parties visit virtual sites where they learn about the organizations of their interest, the operations and way of life. The virtual sites also make it possible to have face to face interviews with the hiring managers. These are called avatar to avatar interviews28.

At the moment there are only a small number of companies recruiting through such sites as Second Life. Second Life, for instance only has about twenty five companies using it29. In the future though, it is likely that more and more companies will resort to this method of recruitment as the virtual community attracts new people and the community gets useful in various more ways.

It is possible that companies will in future hire through the on-demand recruitment software and not they way they have been hiring for years. The future is changing with the rapid change in technology. A lot of things are therefore changing to keep in pace with the changing technology. For this reason, people applying for jobs through this recruitment software should be aware that they are competing against a lot of other applicants and should therefore make an impression to the software before making an impression to another person in real life.

Krell writes that organization managers should not allow their organizations to get into the virtual community without first considering what they are exposing themselves to30. There are potential serious risks which should be looked into. The medium is good for as it opens up opportunities for potential employees as well as employers. However, unless an employers ventures into it with eyes wide open, then it is possible to run into unpleasant situations and characters.

Virtual worlds will be significant in serving roles in companies in conformity, corporate authority and management of business stability. Since businesses run under risks, it is possible for a business office to close down. Under such circumstances, a virtual office would come in handy in ensuring that an office maintains business presence and goes on running.

Should Organizations Use Social Networking & Online Job Fair Tools?

Social Networking Sites

Because of the growing popularity of all generational groups joining and using social networking sites, all organizations should begin using social networking as a recruiting tool, if they are not already. These sites are inexpensive to join and relatively easy to navigate. If organizations do not participate in social networking sites, they are not only losing marketing presence online against many of their competitors who are already signed up on those sites, but they are also missing out a huge opportunity to tap into a very qualified labor pool there.

Online Job Fairs

The concept of using 3D worlds, such as Second Life, for recruiting purposes is still in its infancy and many organizations are just starting to test the waters in this arena. Job candidates who use virtual worlds for their job search are usually those who have a good grasp on technology and are more creative in nature. As a result, not all job candidates can be found through this medium and it is more reserved for organizations who are specifically seeking tech savvy, innovative individuals. It is especially helpful when organizations are trying to hire for technical positions like software engineers, graphics designers, etc.

Pros and cons of virtual recruiting

For most people, finding a job is one difficult task, just as is attending an interview for a certain job. On the other hand, employers think that the most difficult thing is finding the right person for a particular available job. Of certainty is that finding a job, attending an interview and finding the right workforce are all very challenging tasks. Employers who are looking for specific skills however have an option with on-demand recruiting now. The software for on-demand recruiting is available for those employers whose interest is in specific qualities in their potential employees. There are nevertheless many advantages and disadvantages of the process like in any other task.

Cyber recruitment has a lot of advantages. In the present global world, technology has made it possible for people to communicate online. People tend to use this mode of communication more than they communicate in person. Online communication allows candidates and their recruiters to get to the nitty-gritty and gather the information they desire to get. In addition, virtual recruitment is fast and makes the recruitment process and interviewing speed up. Unlike physical interviews, this one allows one to submit an application one day and be interviewed the next hour without the hustles of traveling or having to make big preparations.

There are virtual social worlds such as Second Life. These are referred to as IBM. The virtual worlds are also called participatory media or even massive multiplayer online role playing games. It is also the 3D Internet. According to IBM, the virtual world’s maturity is a long journey.

In this world, the participants often create online characters called avatars. These are what the real person uses to interact with other avatars as they explore the virtual world. The recruiters and employees interact through these avatars. A candidate is a t liberty to create an avatar of their choice to represent them in an interview in a recruitment process. Hiring managers should pay attention to vital characteristics on the virtual world. One is that the degree of the content of the online world which is created by the user. The other is the degree of access to the virtual world which is either private or public.

Unlike the physical recruitment of employees, virtual recruitment is an advantage to the recruits. The recruit team makes judgment on a candidate based solely on the presented qualifications. In an office recruitment and interview process, some factors could play a major role in determining whether one qualifies or not. Such factors include ethnicity, disability and fluency. These factors are not significant in virtual recruitment as hiring teams focus more on the candidate’s knowledge and experience.

Virtual recruitment improves the performance of employees, employers and the company and is also very cost effective. The recruitment software is available and does all the work for the employer while the employer sits and waits for employees. The organization is therefore saved the task of hiring other people who will be involved in the hiring process. The organization is also saved from using its present workforce to recruit and hence taking away workforce from other important duties. The activities at the company go on uninterrupted. This is the cost effectiveness that virtual recruitment provides. With software capable of doing the recruitment work, organizations are saved a lot of money for every new hire. The software is very precise too. The organization sets out requirements that have to be met and the software takes only those who qualify.

Most organizations have found out the benefits of using virtual world to conduct business. One of the organization managers, a PA Consultant analyst attended a recruitment exercise in the company’s Second Life offices. Alex Kingsbury was the product of the recruitment session and joined the firm several months after the session. Alex had created an avatar which impressed the recruitment team because of its wit and sharp questions to the PA Consulting staff. The recruitment session had taken place about 1300 feet above the Second Life offices at the firm. The number of recruitment staff attending the session was more than could attend any interview in a real world31.

For Alex, the experience proved to him that PA Consulting firm was more innovative and state-of-the-art than he had actually thought. He was able to relate with a number of the PA Consulting employees in an informal environment. He was hence in a position to ask all sorts of questions which he wanted answers for and he got real answers fro real people without fear of anonymity.

A company like IBM uses the virtual world not just as a recruitment tool but also as a collaborative space for employees; both the present and those that have already left the organization. For the organization as well as other organizations, there are meetings which take place in the virtual world while some take place in the real world in person.

One person who knows the advantages of the virtual world and specifically Second Life and wishes he knew it before is Elchoness. He previously worked for Qwest executive managing the company’s telecommunication information technology outsourcing relationships. The company required a lot of offshore business. There was therefore constant need for people to be sent out to meet partners in person, an expensive venture that separated people from their families. He wishes he had Second Life at his disposal as this would have eased work for him. People would have met in a more convenient way. Elchoness says that virtual worlds “can be a tremendous team-building tool”32.

Virtual offices make it possible to hire the best people for the best vacancies in spite of the location of the candidate. This is despite the fact that one loses most of the casual conversation. Such conversation if available would possibly produce good ideas or even a new way of doing things at the organization. [email protected] Week for instance had the recommendation for an editor in Dallas, an executive director in Chicago while the production operation was on Long Island. The reporters and writers were got from all over where only the best could be got. The people, though they did not work from the same place had no reason to feel isolated despite the geographical dispersion and the publication did not experience any hitches. Such kind of operations leads to satisfaction among employees and they become even more productive. The real office can at times be intimidating. The venture however requires a lot of effort and commitment. Employees are also required to be constantly aware of the goings on at the organization33. More to this is the fact that employees can be got especially in areas where the demand for workers is big. Telecommunicating is a big advantage to companies.

On the other hand, there are also cons to the virtual recruitment. The candidate does not have a big chance to showcase their personality or even allure. There is no personal side to the software. Online interviews make it easier to be brief and abrupt. This could be interpreted as rudeness on the part of the hiring team and therefore works as a disadvantage to the candidate. The virtual candidate is therefore required to be on toes at all times to avoid instances like this. The candidate at a virtual interview can only make up for their lack of experience. This is attributed to the candidate’s enthusiasm to learn something new.

Face to face communication has always been the best form of communication. While the virtual world allows that recruitment takes place from wherever the recruit is at, it requires that they constantly pick up the phone or rely on the internet. This demands some extra effort on the part of both the hiring team and the potential employee. Sometimes getting information back and forth is not so reliable. It would only work well if the parties split between the real and the virtual world. This provides a chance to meet the people one is dealing with and know exactly what they look like and who they are.

The flexibility of a virtual office is also critical. Employee retention is an issue to face with the new technology getting people out of their jobs to greener pastures. Technology allows people to work from anywhere. Location is not an issue. Women are especially advantaged as they can split their time between their family duties and the office. The technology however does not allow for creativity, growth of team work or interpersonal skills.

The virtual recruitment sites have some sort of digital divides. To begin with, the software download is heavy besides the fact that there are also issues to do with bandwidth and lag. One also needs to have an excellent graphics processor. It would be helpful to use the virtual sites for recruitment but one would also need to give candidates an option for real in person interviews. With its ability to save lots of money for the employers, the virtual recruitment software’s shortcomings are being overlooked as its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Virtual worlds are business opportunities that have such attractive qualities as fun and gaming. However, the same features that make these worlds attractive could also be a risk to the participants. There is the possibility that participants attending job fairs are attending in disguise. Employees are likely, as Benjamin Duranske, an intellectual property attorney, writes, to think that since it is not real life, the rules that are applicable in real life will not apply in the virtual recruitment. For this reason, they could possibly attend in disguise thinking that this will be impressive to the recruiters. They think they are in a different world34.

Benjamin advises companies to take caution when using the virtual world for recruitment of staff. He says that the same problem is faced whether it is an interview or it is reference provision for an anonymous person. There are risks both ways.

The virtual world does not have any in-world system where employment agreements can be enforced. This means that since the recruit and the employer are both represented by avatars, if an avatar fails to show up for work, the company has little it can do about this. This is if the company does not have any formal contract that was signed in the real world. This is a matter of caution for the companies that exclusively use the virtual world to conduct recruitment exercises.

The risk is not just for the hiring company. An employee getting into the virtual world for the first time runs the risk of encountering distasteful images or conduct. Benjamin is a witness to this. He says that as he conducted his representative avatar through the Second Life property, he came across some two avatars that were engaged in vulgar behavior on a nearby rooftop35.

The risks involved in the virtual world are numerous. It is the possibility of risks that drove IBM to adopt some guidelines to operate in the virtual world. The guidelines were established through a shared process all round the organization. All employees were involved. One may wonder whether the guidelines set up for a virtual world would be the same as those that would operate in a real world. The guidelines can be applicable in a real world or not depending on the nature. The virtual guidelines mirror, gear to and point to the guidelines for the conduct of an organization’s business. They however have some specific direction on for instance the appearance of an avatar and its behavior and the protection of intellectual property.

The Impact of Virtual Recruiting on Business Organizations

Virtual recruiting has transformed businesses into a paperless environment where the transactions are carried out through the internet. This has created a cost saving avenue and virtual recruiting has increased speed and effectiveness in the organization’s quest to meet its core objectives. 36 The long traditional filling system and the consequent employment of filling personnel have been eliminated. Virtual recruiting has turned the world into a global village where recruiters can hire different employees from across the world. This has opened up more marketing opportunities for companies to employ the candidates that they believe have the necessary required qualifications. This has eventually contributed to astonishing performances in the business sector.Virtual recruiting has contributed to creativity and innovation in the business environment as businesses adopt different methods of carrying out recruiting. This has spirited a tough campaign to radically alter core business activities. This has also contributed to some organizations gaining new competitive edges. Virtual recruiting again has made the business to appear its highly automated. This is evidenced by exclusive use of online tools and software. 37

Conclusion

Although virtual recruiting is effective and useful to assist organizations with their recruitment needs it does not replace the value of in person interviews to build rapport and evaluate potential candidates.

In addition, virtual recruiting is still largely a U.S.-based technique. Although business development networking sites are strong in some emerging markets, social networking sites geared specifically to recruiting are relatively uncommon.

Virtual recruiting requires a heavy capital investment with surged infrastructure that will form the basis on which such online recruitment procedures can be carried out. Most countries in the world do not have the funding and are ill equipped to use social media tools. This makes virtual recruiting to be unpopular in some parts of the world. Most job seekers are still limited to using the traditional recruitment methods and therefore technology like virtual recruiting may still be irrelevant to them.

Government, corporate organizations and other related agencies should take the lead in mobilizing citizens and the business environment towards the modern technological world. There seem to be a paradigm shift from the industrial world to the knowledge based economy where business organizations depend on software to create a competitive advantage rather than the hardware components.

Organizations should be flexible enough and accept to adapt to any environment. Flexibility would ensure that organizations move with speed to take advantage of the prevailing circumstance. Responsiveness to market needs can only be achieved through flexibility. Learning organizations will acquire new technological inventions like virtual recruiting to establish outstanding competitive advantages when competitors are still in the shadow of bureaucracies.

References

“Job trends for virtual recruiter.” 2009. Web.

“Job trends for social networking sites.” 2009. Web.

Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. FindArticles.com. 2009. Web.

Posnock, Susan. The pros and cons of a virtual office. Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, Oct, 2000

Schneider, Avie. Q 7 A: Adventures in virtual recruiting. 2009. Web.

The interview of the future: Virtual career fairs. 2009, Web.

Footnotes

  1. Joseph, David, Meeker, Mary, Thaker, Anant, Presentation: “Technology Trends”, Morgan Stanley, 2008.
  2. Thite, M. (2001). Help us but help yourself: the paradox of contemporary career management, Journal: Career Development International, MCB UP Ltd, 6(6).312-317.
  3. Job shot. (2009). Online recruitment survey. Web.
  4. Agarwal, A. (2009). Internal Recruitment – Advantages And Disadvantages Explained. Web.
  5. Owyang, Jeremiah, “Social Network Stats: Facebook, MySpace, Reunion (2008)”, Web.
  6. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  7. Engish, Eric. “Dow taps online social network to recruit, communicate”, MLive.com, 2008. Web.
  8. Cullen, Lisa Takeuchi, “It’s a wrap. You’re Hired!”, Time on the Web, 2007. Web.
  9. Huffhines, Aldon, “Recruiters find success in Second Life”, SLNN.com,  2008. Web.
  10. Schneider, Avie. Q 7 A: Adventures in virtual recruiting. 2009. Web.
  11. Schneider, Avie. Q 7 A: Adventures in virtual recruiting. 2009. Web.
  12. Schneider, Avie. Q 7 A: Adventures in virtual recruiting. 2009. Web.
  13. “Winning the War for Talent: The new model for online recruitment sources qualified candidates more effectively by tapping exclusive online communities”, Affinity Circles, 2008.
  14. “Social Networking Demographics”. 2007. Web.
  15. Quirk, Peter, “Recruiting for diversity in virtual worlds”, Web.
  16. Quirk, Peter, “Recruiting for diversity in virtual worlds”, Web.
  17. Owyang, Jeremiah, “Social Network Stats: Facebook, MySpace, Reunion (2008)”, Web.
  18. “Social Networks: The Latest, Greatest Recruitment Tool?”, Web.
  19. Dornbrook, James, “Baby boomers aren’t a homogeneous group”, Kansas City Journal. Web.
  20. Alvarez-Holmberg, Ana, “Online Features Using Generational Perspectives At Work”, Media Communications Association. Web.
  21. The Adler group. (2005). Are Passive Candidates Becoming More Passive. Web.
  22. The interview of the future: Virtual career fairs. Web.
  23. The interview of the future: Virtual career fairs. Web.
  24. Schneider, Avie. Q 7 A: Adventures in virtual recruiting. Web.
  25. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  26. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  27. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  28. Posnock, Susan. The pros and cons of a virtual office. Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, 2000.
  29. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  30. Krell, Erik “HR challenges in virtual worlds: manage the risks when employees join virtual communities”. HR Magazine. Web.
  31. Managing change. (1998).creating a culture of communication. 2009. Web.
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