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Recruitment in the metaverse: will it become a (virtual) reality?

Since Facebook’s widely publicised rebranding to ‘Meta’, the metaverse virtual world has been garnering attention as the next step in the technological revolution.

Over a third (38%) of respondents to an HR Magazine poll of HR professionals on LinkedIn said the technology is suitable for business and that they’re excited to use it.

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The metaverse is pitched as an alternate, virtual, reality where avatars, or representations of the self, take the place of physical bodies, and people from different sides of the globe can meet in the same virtual room.

The technology, as publicised, is reliant on virtual reality (VR) technology and users need to wear VR goggles.

Some companies have eagerly adopted the technology, hoping to break down historical barriers, such as geography, within the workplace.

Korean electronics firm Samsung and motor company Hyundai both held job fairs in a metaverse program known as ‘Gather Town’ in September, and professional services firm PwC has been experimenting with the technology.

Jeremy Dalton, head of extended reality (XR) for PwC UK, told HR Magazine that huge opportunities are being created as companies around the world experiment with the technology.

He said: “For recruitment, we are already using a metaverse platform, Virtual Park, to interview job candidates and offer them the ability to meet our people and find out more about our culture, values and opportunities. 

“We’ve seen great success in using this platform to connect with high school leavers and graduates in particular and, to date, have welcomed over 17,000 students to PwC’s Virtual Park.”

In this way, virtual reality has helped PwC reach a wider talent pool than it might otherwise have been able to.

Dalton added: “Virtual worlds such as this enable us to reach a wider audience and, in some cases, makes an event even more accessible than it would be in the physical world as not everyone is able to travel to specific locations on specific days.”

To some, he added, meeting people in the metaverse is more comfortable than speaking over Zoom or the phone.

He said: “From speaking to candidates personally, they’ve expressed that they feel more at ease in Virtual Park as it is neutral digital territory and they can present themselves through a digital avatar that they can customise to their liking.”

Others however, are reluctant to adopt the metaverse within business.

Nearly half of the poll’s respondents said the metaverse was unsuitable for business, with 77% of those against it saying the technology would be impractical or too costly.

Alastair Gill, founder of HR consultancy Alchemy Labs and former head of people at telecommunications company GiffGaff, told HR magazine that adoption of the technology could be a double-edged sword when it comes to inclusion.

He said: “Obviously the more options there are to participate, the better. You have to move with the times and fish in new ponds with new tools.

"At the moment, however, the costs are a little high, so it could exclude people if it becomes something recruiters rely on.”

Currently, a VR headset costs from £300 to above £1,000.

Gill added: “I would suggest: tread carefully, experiment, offer it along with other options, and gather feedback.

“Personally, I’m more excited about VR and the metaverse from a L&D and group meeting perspective; maybe that’s a safe place to try it out before expanding to recruitment.”

HR magazine polled 244 followers on LinkedIn, between the 11 and 12 January 2022.