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Online Headhunters Prosper Despite Weak Economy

July 8, 2008
Related Topics: Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Candidate Sourcing, Workforce Planning, Latest News
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Despite a weak job market, two New York-based tech companies that provide niche job-hunting services are expanding.

Urgent Career recently unveiled a new service that helps companies hire good salespeople, while BountyJobs, which operates a Web site that connects headhunters to employers, has raised $12 million in venture funding.

Urgent Career has spent the past six months developing a technology based on linguistics that analyzes and matches sales people with compatible employers. The startup promises to reduce the time companies spend on vetting candidates as well as improve the retention of talent.

“It’s hard to get good salespeople,” said Jeffrey Stewart, co-founder of Urgent Career, adding that even in bad economic times firms need a robust sales force. “Growth companies don’t have the time and resources to cut through the noise.”

The startup charges clients a fee of 20 percent of a successful hire’s salary. The service is free for job seekers. Job candidates go to www.urgentcareer.com, type in their phone number and are connected to an interviewer. The callers’ answers are digitally transcribed and analyzed by Urgent Career’s proprietary technology.

So far, the company has been advertising its service via targeted online ads as well as cold calling, Stewart said. It has also received referrals from candidates it has successfully placed. About a dozen companies, including Mimeo.com, a New York-based online printing service that Stewart founded in 1998, are using Urgent Career. The 12-man shop is Stewart’s eighth startup in the past decade.

Clickable, which helps smaller marketers develop and manage search ad campaigns, recently hired a direct-sales professional using Urgent Career in less than six weeks, according to David Kidder, Clickable chief executive.

“The hiring process took little energy on our side,” he said, noting that it would have taken him twice as long to vet candidates on his own.

While most of Urgent Career’s business currently comes from New York-based companies, Stewart plans to offer the service in 48 metropolitan areas around the nation and eventually expand into Montreal, Toronto and the U.K.

Separately, New York-based BountyJobs announced it has raised $12 million in venture funding. The capital infusion, led by Greylock Partners, will be used to expand its 30-employee staff and enhance its technology.

BountyJobs provides an online communication platform where headhunters can connect with employers. The two-year-old firm has doubled revenue each quarter since its November 2006 debut and has helped headhunters place thousands of jobs each year, said chief executive Jeremy Lappin. He notes that the company is prospering despite the weak economy. BountyJobs takes 25 percent of new hires’ salaries.

Niche career sites like TheLadders.com, a site for $100,000-plus salary jobs that has been doubling revenue since 2004, have been relatively immune to the slowing economy as well. However, Stewart of Urgent Career noted that it will become more difficult to sift through candidates as less-qualified job seekers enter the market.

Filed by Amanda Fung of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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