If you ask 10 people to define the metaverse, you’ll likely receive 10 different answers that vary wildly from some sort of virtual haven to an Orwellian nightmare. While large swaths of big tech have already signaled their intent to help shape this digital landscape—look no further than Zuckerberg playing space poker—what exactly the metaverse turns out to be and, more importantly, how we use it, is still anyone’s guess.
While this immersive digital world may still be in its infancy in both development and understanding, it’s clear companies with footprints of every size have already turned an eye to how it could potentially impact employee engagement, retention, and attraction. The pandemic era has undoubtedly accelerated our adoption of virtual recruiting, with the simplicity, efficiency, and safety of tools such as Zoom or Slack largely replacing in-person interviews. So, it’s natural to assume the metaverse will simply be the evolution of our virtual methods to find, gauge, and onboard talent.
As Joel Baroody, head of recruiting at fintech startup Brex, recently shared at the first-ever metaverse hiring event and career fair:
“The last two years have gone by really fast, and we’ve forgotten some of the pains pre-pandemic what interviewing was like. We were thinking through the mess that it was to find conference rooms, the mess that it was to coordinate schedules and to get people into Ubers to find the office. We were flying people from all around the country and spending thousands of dollars on airfares so someone could come into the office for two to three hours. So the immense efficiency that virtual recruiting has provided, I think it’s here to stay.”
Here’s what can job seekers do to best prepare themselves for this new frontier of recruiting, and how they can continue to put their best virtual foot forward during an ever-evolving hiring process.
Communication will still be king
Even in a virtual environment, communicating your experience, qualifications, and skill set clearly and presenting yourself articulately will continue to be paramount. In fact, in a space where you’ll no longer be physically in front of a hiring manager and avatars aren’t advanced enough to depict complex, subtle body language, there may be even more room for ambiguity or miscommunication. You are your own biggest advocate, so if something is unclear, ask for clarification. This starts by approaching any interview (in the metaverse or not) with a pocket full of research on the business, the specific role you’re applying for, and even the representative you’re speaking with. Bring tailored questions that get to the meat of salary/compensation, work culture, direct reports, daily responsibilities, short-term KPIs, and anything else that’ll help you make an informed decision.
What the metaverse looks like today will be incredibly different three, five, 10 years down the road. Will it be a singular, interconnected realm à la Ready Player One, or a series of closely aligned but separate platforms? Who knows, but if the progression of the internet and social media tools have given us any sort of roadmap, it will grow into an easier, more productive, aesthetically functional space. Graphics will improve (think Wii or Sims versus today’s CGI) and services will expand that will make interactions more comparative with a real human-to-human experience. For now, job seekers should recognize the functional limitations of this early version of the metaverse and understand there will be growing pains when it comes to the hiring process within it.
Reduce unconscious bias
One of the greatest challenges in the larger hiring space is that of unconscious bias, which is forming a judgment of a candidate based on something other than their professional credentials. In the metaverse, there’s potential for this bias to be reduced through avatars or other digital representation where virtual characters can look like whatever you want. That said, while a job seeker interviewing in the metaverse may be able to so in their lucky Metallica T-shirt from the Summer Sanitarium tour, that’s not to say your avatar should rock it, too. Your avatar is a representation of you and should be dressed/styled appropriately for the role, sector, and business you’re applying to even if they look nothing like you.
Keep up with trends
Just as any job seeker should do a tech check before any virtual interview, the same goes for the metaverse. Before you immerse yourself in a particular platform for an interview, familiarize yourself with it. If you’re logging in from a laptop, make sure you know the keyboard controls to customize your character and navigate the virtual space appropriately. If you’re using a virtual reality (VR) headset, like Oculus, give it a trial run to understand its nuances and see if you get motion sick. Most importantly, keep up with the latest metaverse news and trends. The more comfortable you are interacting in the metaverse, the more confidence you’ll be able to project during an interview in this space.
The metaverse will continue to expand talent pools exponentially that will benefit both companies and candidates. Job seekers, once restricted to single geographic areas, can meet with any company, anytime, anywhere instantly. As more businesses embrace the demand for remote roles and greater work flexibility, the metaverse will allow candidates to still have comprehensive, immersive interview experiences for positions on the other side of the country, or world, from the comfort of their own homes.
Stephanie Lovell is the head of Marketing at Hirect.