Bounty Call

In August 2007, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway added bounties to its frontier of recruiting practices. And in just a few months the supermarket retailer has cashed in with quality job placements in record time.

According to Jayme Burke, Safeway’s talent acquisition rep for supply operations, the company began using an online marketplace called BountyJobs to expand its recruitment reach and enhance hiring effectiveness.

“I manage, on average, 25 to 40 positions simultaneously,” said Burke, “all within Safeway’s manufacturing and distribution areas. As a recruiter I make choices about how best to fill those positions.”

Many entry-level positions are filled via job boards such as Monster.com and through the company’s own Web site safeway.com. Higher-level and/or more technical positions may require an added boost, Burke explained, which is where BountyJobs comes in.

BountyJobs is a private online hiring marketplace where employers such as Safeway post job openings that are then accessed by thousands of pre-approved third-party agencies (headhunters). Those agencies view the posted position requirements on the BountyJobs Web site and choose whether or not to submit candidates for a given position. In turn, an employer such as Safeway reviews the headhunter’s qualifications and also decides whether or not to proceed, or “engage,” with that particular third-party agency. After mutual engagement, a flurry of activity follows.

“Just like you check your e-mails ever day, you need to log onto BountyJobs daily,” said Burke, “to make sure that you are responding appropriately. Bottom line, if you’re not communicating regularly with a third-party agency, they’re not going to work on your position.”

Burke’s daily BountyJobs routine includes frequent e-mail and phone communication with the engaged agencies, receipt and review of resume submissions, interview coordination and more.

Successful placement—of which Burke’s department has so far had four in less than three months—is compensated by a bounty paid by Safeway to BountyJobs, who then pays a percentage to the third-party agency.

BountyJobs is the brainchild of Jeremy Lappin, CEO, who launched the New York City-based company in November 2006. Although his first client was TJX Cos., which is still one of the company’s most active users, BountyJobs is utilized by a wide range of retailers—from Coach to Nike to Starbucks and, of course, Safeway. Retailers that become users of BountyJobs are then given access to thousands of headhunters nationwide.

“We currently have 2,500 headhunters and are adding about 150 each week,” said Lappin.

Neither the retail employer nor the headhunter pays a fee to become part of the BountyJobs network, Lappin added, but headhunters are interviewed extensively to ensure that they are indeed bona fide agencies.

“Under normal circumstances, retailers are challenged to find the right headhunter in the right location to fill an open position,” said Lappin. “Here, a retailer posts a job onto the site and thousands of headhunters attack it.”

The results can be swift. Safeway’s Burke had a position—a quality-control supervisor for a bread plant in the Bay Area of California—she originally thought would be a cinch to fill. After the job had been open for nearly three months with no hire in sight, Burke abandoned the traditional job boards and posted the position on BountyJobs. “Literally within 20 minutes of the posting, I had a qualified candidate,” she said. “And I had an interview scheduled within two hours.”

Burke feels strongly that, as a recruiter for Safeway, she should fill as many positions herself as possible, avoiding the additional fees. But there comes a time when a wider net may need to be cast.

“Sometimes bringing in third parties will speed the recruitment and hiring process and ultimately be in the best interests of the company,” added Burke.

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