Using greed to find candidates: an all American solution

Any job board operator will tell you that one of the toughest things about keeping your site running well is ensuring that you have a steady flow of the right kind of candidates. What exactly is the ‘right kind of candidate’? Well, this would a candidate that is qualified for a particular job AND responds to that job. If you have enough of these candidates, your employers will be happy and they will pay to use your site.

Problem is, finding these candidates is easier said than done. The time-honored technique of driving up your site traffic in hopes that a percentage of visitors will be the ‘right kind’ is – at best – wasteful. It wastes your resources (why bring janitors to your site when you wanted aerospace engineers?), and it wastes your employers’ resources (by having cull unqualified candidates). Niche sites in particular have been more inventive, promoting themselves wherever they find their candidates gathering – or even creating a gathering place for the candidates (i.e., the proverbial ‘career hub’). Some partner with professional associations, or appear at industry trade shows. These are all good techniques. But I recently saw two examples of a new method for finding the ‘right kind’ of candidate.

Top Prospect tackles the problem by focusing on the friends of candidates. You sign up (using their LinkedIn and/or Facebook login) in order to: a) help your out-of-work friends by finding them jobs, and b) making some cold hard cash when one of your referrals is hired. Top Prospect conducts some behind-the-scenes technical work to match your LinkedIn and Facebook friends to various open positions – then they tell you about the match. You decide if you want to make the referral. The hiring party doesn’t know you referred the candidate – just that it came from Top Prospect. If they’re hired, you get money.

This has the potential to work well if: a) there are enough open positions that at least a few of them will match up to your friends; and b) if your friends are the kind of people an employer might want to meet. If your personal network is loaded with buddies from prison and the fast food place you worked in during high school, you may not get your referral dough.

A similar model is being used by Job Fox with its Boost service. It allows recruiters to build ‘networks’ of contacts based on their specific criteria – but if you’re lazy, JobFox will ‘autobuild’ a network for you from its database of 7 million candidates. Boost includes a ‘spiff’ option that lets recruiters offer cash for referrals.

In a way, you could say that Top Prospect and Job Fox have tackled ‘job matching’ by using the most powerful software available – the human brain. If you have a big enough network and are willing to spend some time, you can earn a little spending money for matching your friends to their jobs. Wait - did I say ‘a little spending money’? Ahem. Top Prospect talks about $20,000 a match. Even if you take that with a shaker full of salt, I’m betting that the average fee is at least a few thousand dollars.

Greed (and of course the desire to help friends) can be a powerful focuser.

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