US State Government recruits from Second Life

Second Life.
The 3-D virtual world Second Life.

In an innovate move to tackle its ageing IT workforce, the state of Missouri has recruited its first IT employee from an internet-based virtual world.

According to a Government Technology report, Missouri last year launched a recruiting site and job fairs in Second Life, an online 3-D community where ‘residents’ can participate in various social and economic activities. 

During a job fair, an online avatar expressed his interest and the state government put him in the Department of Natural Resources as a web developer.

“He came to our job fair as a tiny cat with a red bow tie on and expressed interest. That was followed by an in-person interview,” Missouri chief information officer Dan Ross told Government Technology. “He is a computer engineering graduate from a Missouri college who wanted to stay in the area, so it just seemed to be perfect match for us."

Since its opening in 2003, Second Life has been appealing to particularly technology-friendly young generations. The site now has almost 10 million residents and an increasing number of corporations are flocking into the virtual world to interact with the demographic group.

Mr Ross said the state also saw the recruitment potential in the site, as it faced a looming shortage of IT workers, with almost half of the current workforce expected to retire over the next 10 years.

He said while Second Lift alone would not be the solution to the skills crunch, it would be a useful and low-risk platform to attract young candidates.

Missouri's activity in the virtual world is expected to expand, with its plans to use the site for online training courses and communicating with young citizens.

“For me, as state CIO, the challenge has been to get out in front of that and create some ground rules and a process for establishing an avatar and conducting business as the state of Missouri in Second Life,” Mr Ross said. 

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