Employers know the problem with great job candidates is that they usually have jobs and aren't actively seeking another one. And why should they? It's a hassle to send out resumes, shake the trees on a social network or chat-up recruiters.
Typically it's unhappy employees that seek new opportunities. Apart from these active job seekers, most employed workers are considered "passive" job candidates who may leave if the right opportunity finds them. Frankly, the grass is often greener elsewhere.
To help nudge talented, yet passive job candidates to test the waters, a Silicon Valley startup has identified sponsors willing to pay top candidates up to $500 or more for an interview. NotchUp , as it is known, hopes that this incentive will entice talented workers to forsake job boards and recruiters.
For employers, paying $500 for an interview is a relative bargain compared to the cost of job board ads and recruiters.
The radical part of the business model is the disintermediation (which is to say eliminating) of middlemen in the talent supply chain -job boards and recruiters.
I asked several recruiters I met on LinkedIn  to share their views about NotchUp vs. a recruiter.
"I'm looking at building a relationship with a candidate," says Heather Gardner, a recruiter at Volt Services Group . "And that's more important than a job posting. Sometimes the best candidates have a crappy resume. And when I talk to them I discover hidden jewels. Plus a resume doesn't tell you what their ultimate goals are. I think in my job I'm sort of a professional matchmaker too."
Krista Bradford, Principal, The Good Search , is a bit skeptical about the concept. "I doubt mid or senior level executives and technologists will be motivated to interview at a company purely for the amount of coin that is being thrown to them," says Bradford. "Also, this reminds me of a rule we had in my former career as an investigative journalist: never to pay for interviews. The reason? You couldn't tell whether someone was saying something because you paid them or because it was the truth. The same could possibly apply to NotchUp. Is someone interviewing because they're genuinely interested or because they're motivated by the ka-ching? "
Bradford suggests that employers should "take a different route, which, from my perspective, is far more direct. Identify the best people. Recruit them to the best opportunities. Done."
But money talks and if NotchUp produces results, it may well catch on. On NotchUp, like Priceline, job candidates get to name their price and most choose $200 to $500 per interview. Of course, naming your price doesn't guarantee you an interview.
If a job candidate receives an interview, they earn money regardless of whether they receive a job offer. In a viral-style move aimed at building the site's traffic, members can earn a 10 percent referral fee if a job candidate they invite to join is interviewed.
The fine print of the NotchUp terms of service includes this yellow flag: "You agree to hold NotchUp harmless for any failure by the Company to pay the Interview Fee. The Interview Fee is the sole responsibility of the Company. Your sole recourse for non-payment of the Interview Fee is to contact the Company."
If you give this a try, let us know how it turns out for you.