Recruitment firm pays candidates for interviews

Attracting passive job-seekers is the goal

US recruitment website has upped the ante in the hiring stakes by allowing potential candidates to calculate a price for which they will agree to interview with prospective employers.

The company, which officially launched last month at the DEMO 08 conference in California, says Yahoo, Google, Barracuda Networks and others have signed up to use the online service, which is free to job seekers.

Job candidates sign up for the service, create a profile and calculate their interview price (usually between US$300-$600, or NZ$389-$778), based on their skills and experience. Prospective employers can search the profiles and make offers to the candidates. If the candidate accepts and goes on the interview, the site collects the interview fee and transfers it to the candidate.

The site allows users to import their LinkedIn profile to use as the NotchUp profile and then to hide their name and contact details until a prospective employer agrees to schedule an interview. Users can permanently hide their profile from their current employer.

According to the NotchUp website, an average recruiter in the US charges up to 20% of a candidate's first year salary. NotchUp, on the other hand, charges an average of US$500 per interview. At that price, a company could interview 10 people for a job with a US$100,000 salary using NotchUp and still save 75% compared to using a recruiter.

Companies get their money back and the candidate is not paid if they don't show up or arrive late for the interview, fail to take the interview seriously or have lied on their profile.

"NotchUp will force companies and candidates to rethink how they find their next opportunity," says Jim Ambras, NotchUp CEO and co-founder, in a statement. "The Holy Grail for professional talent search is to identify the happy employee who is open to new opportunities, and the candidate who is seeking a specific professional challenge. NotchUp provides the missing link in this discovery process."

Erick Schonfeld, a blogger at TechCrunch, says "If you are a star manager, chances are your employer knows it and is treating you well so that you don't even think about leaving," he noted. "NotchUp tries to lure talented but complacent workers and managers into its recruitment pool by turning the job search on its head. Instead of desperate out-of-work employees going hat-in-hand to companies begging for a job interview, on NotchUp, the companies have to pay to interview you. This is supposed to bring out those passive job seekers every company really wants to find."

The NotchUp model has been questioned in a series of comments by readers in an article on NotchUp on VentureBeat, a Silicon Valley news website. The comments include: "The premise of this business model is that offering money will motivate otherwise happy employees to tale time to interview for a new role. It does not address the client side of the value proposition. How does this service increase the probability that a candidate will be qualified for a role. It doesn't. Only pre-screening interviews with HR or a recruiter can do that." Also, whether candidates will go to interviews, decline any offers resulting from the interview and pocket the money, appears not to be addressed by NotchUp. A comment on an article on TechCrunch suggests there could be "professional NotchUp interviewees" and another says "what is to stop people making a living off simply going to job interviews?"

Additional reporting by David Watson

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