- I attended a metaverse hiring fair called “Hired in the Metaverse: The New Frontier of Recruiting.”
- The metaverse makes hiring more accessible for some and less accessible for others.
- It can be a great tool for hiring in the tech industry, but it won’t fit every sector.
On February 17 I attended a startup hiring fair in a large conference arena. I walked between interactive displays about different startups, spoke with employers looking for new hires, and listened to guest speakers discuss entrepreneurship in the pandemic.
And the best part was I didn’t even have to leave my couch.
I attended “Hired in the Metaverse: The New Frontier of Recruiting,” a hiring event hosted by the chat-based hiring startup Hirect. Venu, a virtual-reality events company, served as the meeting place. The goal was to glimpse the newest form of hiring in the metaverse, a virtual 3D space where avatars can interact.
Some experts have lauded the metaverse as the next big technology innovation — the dot-com boom’s next act. A recent Grayscale report said the metaverse could be a $1 trillion annual revenue opportunity. And Meta (formerly Facebook) is hiring 10,000 people to help build its metaverse.
While the hiring fair gave me some trouble with setup (and even caused a bout of motion sickness), some aspects genuinely seemed like improvements over an in-person event. Here were my big three takeaways.
The setup process isn’t for everyone yet
The event had a series of main-stage sessions and speakers followed by a networking segment where attendees could mingle. To attend the event, I donned an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. Quest 2, unveiled in 2020, is Meta’s newest device.
I received my Quest 2 and instructions for joining before the event. But changing the settings on my headset, downloading the different platforms and software, and connecting my headset to my laptop took me more time and assistance than I expected — especially considering I am the digitally native Gen Zer this technology is often marketed toward.
Picturing someone like my twin sister, who doesn’t know how to connect a computer to a printer, let alone to a VR headset, made me think that for some industries the advantages of using the metaverse over Zoom may be offset: This new-age technology could weed out talented applicants who don’t have the time or skills needed to adapt.
As of 2019, about 14.5 million people in the United States didn’t have reliable high-speed internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Americans on that side of the digital divide almost certainly won’t have the resources needed to use a VR headset in the way I needed to for this event.
The interactive elements were the best part
I was skeptical going into the metaverse. I had a dystopian, “Ready Player One” vision of what networking in the virtual space would be like. I imagined attendees entering an expansive virtual universe where they eerily ate, drank, and spoke with more passion than they did in real life.
And yet I found that I enjoyed the interactive elements of the event. Features such as the “request meeting” button on startups’ displays were efficient and added something to the experience that couldn’t be accomplished through a video call.
Hirect’s event was intended for startups and for job seekers looking to work at startups, so holding it in the metaverse felt like a perfect marriage.
The event featured about 50 startups, including online marketplaces, enterprise software companies, and firms focused on exploring the applications of VR.
“Candidates today expect a flexible, virtual experience. But in a competitive job market they still are looking for genuine human connection,” Theresa Klaassen, a cofounder of Worksphere, one of the attendees, told Insider in an email. “I was surprised at how seamless it was to make those quick, personal networking connections at the career fair.”
However, industries such as finance, food services, and marketing probably won’t benefit from metaverse hiring as much as these tech-savvy companies.
Additionally, for the first hour and a half of the event, I found myself thinking, “This could have been a Zoom call.” I would have preferred to see human faces rather than avatars speaking during the stagnant presentations.
If you’re like me, you may get motion sickness
The most unexpected damper on my day was that I felt so much motion sickness during the fair that halfway through I had to switch from my Quest 2 to my computer. I had used a VR headset only once before and was unprepared for the over-two-hour experience.
VR can create what’s known as simulator sickness, a combination of nausea, dizziness, eye strain, and disorientation. When I researched my symptoms later, I found that, ironically, the better the VR gets, the more likely you are to feel sick, since the motion becomes even more realistic.
Ultimately, while VR headsets may make hiring fairs such as this one more accessible for people who can’t travel because of cost or limited mobility, in their current state they seem to make hiring less accessible for those who can’t afford the devices or are limited in their tech know-how.
The metaverse may not be a one-size-fits-all replacement for in-person and Zoom events, but if you’re a tech-savvy Gen Zer or millennial in search of work (and needing a break from Zoom), a metaverse hiring fair could be the perfect event for you.