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BountyJobs Redux

(February 2, 2007)
Can you imagine? The people at BountyJobs were not completely fond of my review of their business last week. The review wasn't terribly negative. It was more like a yawning "Ho-hum."

I hardly ever get strong negative feedback. Well, maybe I get a little bit occasionally.

The environment has changed. Part of the new rules include the fact that you have to figure out how you're going to deal with negative press. This used to only be a problem for really large companies or really high profile people. Today, in our Andy Warhol purgatory, everyone has to navigate the media rapids.

There are a number of options when the press runs against you:

  • Grin and Bear it. Fundamentally, any press is good press.
  • Write gobs of nasty hate mail. Some people need spleen venting.
  • Create a distraction. Do something more newsworthy so that the press fades from memory.
  • Use a blog to reinterpret the material in your favor. Suggest that the author is looney and restate the case in your favor. (Intentional Density)
  • Take the feedback and use it. Rarely done, often the best path.
  • Build the feedback into a conversation. Even more rarely done and really, really powerful.

Steve Levy chose the last course as a way of handling the less than positive story we spun. (Full disclosure: Steve and I have a mutual admiration society). I've been suffering through a spate of people who choose less than optimal responses to negative publicity. That made Levy's approach even more refreshing.

I don't agree with a lot of what Steve has to say (except the parts where he flatters me). He did however, manage to persuade me that he deserved to have his perspective heard. Here's Steve's response:

I am a shameless John Sumser fan; we are like twin sons of different mothers except he's much older with far more hair. No one in recruiting is as cantankerous as is John and I can only aspire to reach the same levels as him. And for the record, when I left a VM for John several weeks back to talk to him about BountyJobs, he called back in less than one hour. Since no one receives this level of service from him (or so he told me); so I suppose it's true that he actually respects me.
Let me be upfront and admit that I've been recruiting since back in the mid-1980's when I moved over to the dark side from engineering. I never completely left engineering and to this day can still run a technical product development meeting - meaning I've been around technology for over 25 years, and HR technology since the late 1980's. I've seen so many "can't-miss" apps and Internet sites fall flat because they didn't adequately address critical channel issues or understand the specific marketplace dynamics. But BountyJobs is very different.
I sincerely appreciated John's assessment of the BountyJobs marketplace; however, I do have a few comments in response to his write up:
  • BountyJobs appeals to employers whose preferred vendor network is by its very nature limited; having a nationwide (and eventually global) network of independent recruiters to work on one's searches ensures a far broader reach to talent.
  • BountyJobs appeals to recruiters because it allows them to potentially engage with companies they would not normally have access to; the objectively measured marketplace statistics (no smile sheets at all) actually creates a level playing field for all recruiters - it's one's reputation on BountyJobs that makes the difference.
  • Reputation management actually is implemented exceptionally quite well here. In fact, one of the major reasons why I was so excited about BountyJobs was because of of how metrics were handled. There are no smile-sheet metrics in this marketplace. We have discussed additional ways to objectively measure the effectiveness of both employer and recruiter and you'll see these in future releases.
  • Even more exciting is how BountyJobs addresses the annoying habit of recruiters who flood inboxes with unsolicited resumes. The mechanism that allows unengaged recruiters to "take a flier" - essentially paying a small submission fee - will truly ensure the quality of the submitted candidate.
  • To say that BountyJobs is a "modest update to the old splits network idea" would have some truth to it if not for the fact that the recruiters get to keep 25% more of the fee and do not have to traditionally market themselves to potential companies. And a splits network is really a black whole to one of the recruiters; with BountyJobs, the recruiter knows exactly who is receiving the resume.
  • BountyJobs has a full time "head of recruiter recruiting" who does a fantastic job of vetting recruiters for the marketplace. Recruiters come to BountyJobs from many channels including personal recommendation (including my network), from numerous recruiting communities, and even from calling those listed in the Red Book.
In reality, BountyJobs is not at all a splits network but a self-contained POS solution for managing every aspect of a company's externally driven recruiting channel (it doesn't matter whether it's contingency or retained). The only legal arrangement for a company is with BountyJobs and not with any recruiter - considering that an employer can engage or disengage a recruiter results in a competitive marketplace where the only solution for a recruiter is to perform or be cast off. Sure it sounds cruel but competition will bring out the best performers and guess who benefits?
I wholeheartedly concur that RPOs are made possible by "the dramatic inefficiencies of contingency recruiters." But a "smarter version of the contingency recruiter?" The reason BountyJobs will work is because the inefficiencies are engineered away by competition. Over time, the less proficient recruiters will find themselves not being engaged and the "bar" of performance will move higher. The better recruiters will get the work and the employers the results. Oh, and with BountyJobs you don't have to "buy" the entire RPO - just the recruiters who perform for you.
If we were accepting of average performance, then yes, I'd agree that we were automating a dinosaur. However, BountyJobs is a paradigm shifting concept - an EBay like marketplace for recruiting - that significantly rewards both companies and recruiters with their desired treasures.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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