Ep 114 – How Gap Inc. Uses Virtual Reality in Recruiting & Hiring

virtual reality, VR, VR recruiting, VR hiring, virtual reality recruiting, virtual reality hiring

Experts estimate that the virtual reality and augmented reality market will be worth $120 billion by 2022. Earlier this year we had technology expert, Robert Scoble on the Workology Podcast who talked about how virtual reality could change workplace collaboration and training, but what about recruiting? Universities like Princeton are already using virtual reality as part of their campus recruiting processes and I was thrilled when during my trip to Austin, TX for SXSW, I stumbled onto Gap and their virtual reality experience as part of the conference’s job fair. You might have guessed today we are talking about virtual reality or VR and how it can be used in recruiting.

Episode 114: How Gap Inc. Is Using Virtual Reality in Recruiting & Hiring with Nick Boyd (@nicholasaboyd)

Nick Boyd is the head of Talent Attraction Supply at Gap Inc. Nick walks us through the decision to use virtual reality as part of their recruiting and job fair strategy this year at SXSW. He tells podcast listeners that Gap is more than a retail store which is why their recruitment marketing efforts on focused on organizational storytelling. They want to attract top talent for their corporate and regional positions that don’t always work in a store. He says most people think of Gap, Old Navy, Athleta or Banana Republic and immediately think of the store. VR provides job candidates an opportunity to see Gap in a new and different way, giving them insights into working in the San Francisco and New York offices. Gap’s use of VR at SXSW was their first foray. The response was positive and he says they are expanding their efforts and focusing on virtual reality storytelling that engages and is customized to a very specific candidate audience. They are creating virtual reality content for emerging fashion designers for an upcoming event. Gap’s focus on VR is their content will be highly segmented and hyper-relevant in order to gain the most traction, develop strong candidate relationships and make a positive impression that leads to qualified candidates. I can tell you that having sat down and participated in their SXSW VR experience, it was extremely engaging and elicited a strong emotion response for myself which is typical of most people’s first reaction to VR. I think their approach will set them apart from other employers in the segmented markets they are targeting.

Nick’s background comes from working in marketing before moving into the recruiting and talent attraction side of the business. Gap Inc. and also his focus is on finding ways to creatively engage and storytelling. The overall mission of the TA team for Gap Inc. is centered around collaboration and bringing the different brands in their portfolio together. While the brands are known separately, Gap is focused on collaboration and developing content and stories that speak to the larger overall Gap Inc. brand portfolio but still provide insights into the uniqueness of each individual brand under the larger umbrella. I think this is a challenge that many organizations face especially those that have many brands and struggling for ways to engage candidates and share with them the benefits of working for the smaller brand that is part of a larger and supporter organization. This challenge in many ways mirrors many employers who are struggling with employees have individual personalized brands too. How do we work together while still being separate and drive organizational or departmental results?

What’s In Store for VR In HR?

Virtual reality for career fairs, conferences and events aren’t the only use case for VR in HR. Nick and I dish on the different ways that virtual reality can be used in HR including the obvious areas of learning and development and training. He talks in depth about how he sees VR allowing virtual teams to better connect and collaborate together. Other areas of interest that Nick is thinking about when it comes to VR at work are fitness, health, wellness and video interviewing.

Digital Recruiting That Drives Qualified and Targeted Candidates

Having just finished up speaking at the SHRM Talent conference this week, digital recruiting is certainly on my mind and organizations including Gap are looking at ways to better attract passive talent using career sites, social media, and the internet. Nick shares with me other exciting recruiting projects they are focused on. Gap has recently launched their Careers Blog which Nick describes as a combination between Buzzfeed and the Muse. The blog is designed to reach candidates in a fun and exciting ways sharing job search resources and career information combined with insights into what it’s like to work for Gap and the different job opportunities they offer. This goes back to Nick’s earlier statement in how VR is helping to educate and demonstrate how the company has many career paths outside of the traditional retail positions people often think about. I’ve included a link to their new career site in the resources section below. As someone who believes that blogs truly provide value in unexpected places and ways for businesses and organizations, I’m excited to see how their efforts increase their digital recruiting efforts.

Connect with Nick Boyd on LinkedIn.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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