“The future of innovation has to include not only technology, bu economic viability.” – Dennis Muilenburg, Former President & CEO of Boeing
It was Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, who once said, “The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.” This is by far the truest reflection of where we find ourselves in this rapidly digitizing age. Technology and what is possible keep changing every single day. It is undeniable that nearly every aspect of our daily lives revolve around virtual space and the internet. Talent Acquisition is no exception to this fact. Talent acquisition and the global technological landscape are currently gearing up for the next great evolution – the metaverse!
But what is the metaverse? How does it fit into the recruitment and talent acquisition world? Why is it so important? These are some of the important questions that we will be addressing in this article. So, without further delay, let’s dive in!
The term ‘Metaverse’ was first coined in author Neal Stephenson’s book, Snow Crash (1992). It refers to a virtual-reality space where the users interact with a computer-generated environment as well as with other users. Think of it as a virtual playground or room. It has also been described as an immersive world where people can work and socialize together through the use of digital avatars.
If we were to simplify, it could be framed as the sum of all virtual worlds. Do you know how we have Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)? Well, the metaverse is like having both of those combined into one convenient package and put on the internet to reach a global audience.
Before we contextualize how talent acquisition and the metaverse fit together, let’s look at the overall scope of its importance. Our lives are already an amalgamation of technology and consumerism.
The metaverse is just the next step in that path. We have gone from traditional human interaction and integrated hand-free devices and even VR as a concept. The metaverse offers us a more in-depth and immersive look into that world, literally!
It is an interesting factor to consider. It is a given that there will be an audience for this. For those companies looking to cash in on this and reach a niche audience, this is a young-enough concept to consider investing in and technologically sound enough to make it worthwhile.
It’s a near certainty that there will be many advances and changes to come to the talent acquisition industry, both in terms of the technology as well as the ecosystem as a whole. We are already seeing subtle shifts wherein businesses both big and small are investing in metaverse technologies and are looking to roll it out in the near future. If we were to list out all these changes, one article would not be enough space, but here are the highlights you need to be aware of.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguisable from magic.” – Authur C. Clarke
Microsoft Teams launched Mesh for its Teams app in 2022. Though the function was only rolled out in mid-2022, there will be more improvements to it as time goes on. As of now, it has been presented as a virtual 3D room that enables people to experience the metaverse of a corporate office setup. It also offers branded virtual conference rooms for talent acquisition teams to conduct interviews in.
While the initial version has avatars that interact on behalf of the user, future versions might have the person’s actual face in the virtual setting. This same concept will likely expand to career fairs, assessment centers and even hackathons down the line. We know what you’re thinking, it sounds like a lot of guessing, but here is the thing, there is already proof of concept!
In September of 2021, Samsung used an online platform called Gather Town to conduct a metaversal career fair. Candidates met with the HR and other hiring managers using virtual avatars. The process lasted a whole week!
Remember how job descriptions evolved from paper-based formats like the classified to online job postings like LinkedIn? Well, now with the emergence of the metaverse, job descriptions will be much more immersive. So much so that it will give the candidate an experience of the job before applying. This could be a factory walk-through for those in the skilled trades industry or an intro to the corporate office if the candidate is someone like an IT specialist.
While we’re on the subject of these different industries, it may not be particularly geared towards the skilled trades industry like the millwrights and electricians. Rather it might be more oriented towards the IT crowd who might access it regularly. Demographic-wise that may make more sense in the long run.
Having said that, there is no saying what this technology can do – the sky’s the limit. It could be a great means for talent acquisition teams to reach people in the skilled trades sector and engage them in new and innovative ways. This could very likely change the recruitment game as a whole!
Let’s talk about remote onboarding/work for a minute. While platforms like Zoom allow companies to reach their potential candidates, they do have their fair share of drawbacks. For one, it lacks that much-needed human interaction or a sense of reality. At the end of the day, it’s just another screen.
The Metaverse and the concepts we have explained so far could provide a whole new experience for candidates in terms of engagement, recruitment, onboarding and so much more. They could interact with a visualization of the organizational structure or the layout of the office building. In unprecedented situations like the pandemic where the real thing might not be possible, this workaround comes in handy.
When all is said and done, this approach is still rather new in terms of implementation and technology. What this could mean for the world of recruitment five or ten years down the line is anyone’s guess. Having said that, for the immediate future and maybe a little further down the road, this seems like the next logical step, especially considering the whole pandemic situation. And this way, companies are not only preparing for another lockdown scenario but also innovating their entire approach. As the saying goes, “Two birds, one stone.”