Virtual job fairs on SecondLife net Sodexho recruits

Virtual job fairs on SecondLife net Sodexho recruits

GAITHERSBURG MD. Sodexho USA [3], and being able to fly like a bird didn’t hurt his pitch. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

As a participant in a job fair Sodexho hosted on the social-networking website SecondLife.com [4], Giordano concluded the online session by flying his computer-generated self-image, or avatar, down a virtual flight of stairs—landing a chuckle from his interviewer and a live interview with a hiring manager. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Social networks have become the new cyberspace frontier in the search for talent, with such foodservice operators as Sodexho joining high-tech companies in taking their recruiting efforts beyond Internet job boards and company Web pages. SecondLife.com is just one more method to add to Sodexho’s recruiting tool kit, said Arie Ball, the Gaithersburg-based company’s vice president of sourcing and talent acquisition. Sodexho, which hires about 2,500 external candidates a year, has more than 160,000 employees at its foodservice and facilities management venues nationwide. Its foodservice business alone has more than 6,000 contract locations. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“We’re always looking for ways to reach out to talent,” Ball said, and the advent of networking websites “posed a great opportunity to do something really creative.” —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Going online also saves companies travel costs and time, and they can reach applicants from all over the country. Recruiters do not need to set up or staff a booth at a job fair. Companies pay social-networking sites a fee to create a virtual “building” in an online job fair. It’s much like creating a Web page, Ball said. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Sodexho’s advertising agency, TMP Worldwide, already owned an “island” on SecondLife.com and had invited Sodexho and other clients, such as Verizon Communications, Microsoft Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., to participate this spring in a virtual job fair. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Ball said. “It was very cutting-edge. But it struck us when we toured it. It’s a three-dimensional site and it was very engaging, much more so than just viewing a website. It was much more interactive.” —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Ball said she had recruiters on her team vying for the chance to participate. They split up shifts to cover the four-hour-per-day fair over its three-day run. Recruiters and applicants had to create avatars. They communicated through instant messaging, and, though they had pseudonyms for their avatars, recruiters knew applicants’ real names and had their resumes. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

The job fair was by invitation only. Recruiters prescreened applicants who signed up. Of the 75 who applied to Sodexho, about 50 were invited. Of those, 14 were impressive enough in the interview that recruiters followed up with telephone interviews. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Giordano was the first to get hired. The former Marine cook started working last month as a resource chef for Sodexho’s health services division on the West Coast. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

To prepare for the interview, Giordano, then a chef in Las Vegas, went on the site the day before to learn how to navigate it and create his avatar, which he named Bellagio chef. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“I made one that was tall, dark, handsome, muscular, hourglass waist and lots of hair,” he said. “My sons thought I had bought a game.” —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Giordano moved to Las Vegas in 1993 after leaving the military. He became a chef at the Bellagio Hotel, and later at the neighboring Wynn Las Vegas resort. He heard that Sodexho had openings in California and learned about the SecondLife.com job fair. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

What he found was a form of interaction that was more relaxed than a conventional job interview, Giordano said. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“When you are face-to-face, your guard is up and you are a lot more nervous,” he said. “Doing it on SecondLife, you are watching your character. Your guard is down, and you are a lot less stressed. They are not looking at you; they are looking at your character.” —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

The instant messaging also gives a candidate a little bit more time to think about how to reply to an interviewer’s question, Giordano said. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“I know all my answers were better answers than I would have answered one-on-one the first time,” he said. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Ultimately his real-world experience and willingness to travel helped him advance through the interview process, Giordano said. As a resource chef, he travels to nursing homes and other health care facilities in California. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

Ball said Sodexho officials were impressed that the job fair attracted applicants with experience ranging from five to 16 years. The company had expected to see younger, Generation Y job seekers, who generally are considered more computer-savvy. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

“We had more people like Ray, who, when they heard about [the website], spent a couple of days learning how to use it, so they would be prepared for the interview,” she said. “It showed us people who were willing to try something different, to take a risk.” —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

SecondLife.com , less known than such sites as Facebook.com [5] and MySpace.com, claims more than six million members worldwide, although a reported fraction of that number use the site each month. The website was launched four years ago by Linden Lab of San Francisco. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant

After a positive experience with the first job fair, Sodexho planned one for its facilities division. The company also is considering doing another job fair in December that will target college students graduating next spring, Ball said. The site also may have some application for hosting mentoring meetings with Sodexho interns, she added. —Chef Ray Giordano made a good impression in his employment interview with a recruiter for contract giant