Recruiting Agency Plans Job Fairs, Interviews in 'Second Life'

For some job seekers, a trip to a virtual world may hold the key to an actual job.

Interactive advertising agency TMP Worldwide, which specializes in recruitment, said on Monday it will allow corporate recruiters to hold job fairs and interview potential employees via TMP's space on the "Second Life" virtual world.

"Second Life" is a virtual world with more than 3 million registered users, as well as its own economy and currency. Dozens of real-world companies have established a presence there, including Reuters, IBM (IBM), General Motors (GM) and Circuit City (CC), in the hopes of engaging with its technology-savvy users.

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But TMP is the first company to set up a real-world recruiting service on "Second Life," said Louis Vong, TMP's vice president of interactive strategy. Until now, recruitment in the virtual space was limited to virtual jobs.

"A lot of companies spend money on job fairs at convention centers or hosting at hotels," Vong said. "We're saying we can do all this inside 'Second Life.'"

TMP's "island" within the virtual world will allow clients to host recruiting events and build virtual replicas of their offices.

An avatar — or online character — of a real corporate recruiter will interview avatars of job seekers, using instant- messaging technology.

Privately-held TMP, until last year a division of Monster Worldwide Inc. (MNST), said it would pre-screen candidates before scheduling an interview to make sure people are who they say they are.

A company gets real-world resumes, names, e-mail addresses and a chance to promote its brand to a digitally-sophisticated audience in the coveted 18-44 age group, TMP said. It may also get a skilled staffer to do real work in a real office.

The potential new hire can even get a parachute. A visitor to T-Mobile USA's (DT) section on the island might come away with a virtual cell phone to use in "Second Life" — or an invitation to sky dive off TMP's virtual 20-story building.

The skydiving experience fits the adventurous image T-Mobile wants to project, while the (virtual) parachute is yet another opportunity to display the (quite real) corporate logo.

"We'll shoot you way up above the island and out pops the T-mobile branded parachute," said TMP's Russell Miyaki.