New Recruiting Alliance Connects Big Firms

By Staff Report

Jul. 16, 2008

A new association of companies focused on sharing job candidates to cut recruiting costs has attracted some big names. But it also confronts some big challenges.

AllianceQ, announced earlier this month, is a joint effort among Fortune 500 companies to swap data on job candidates. Wachovia, Automatic Data Processing and Starbucks are among the founding members of the alliance, which was formed by recruiting technology firm QuietAgent.

The idea is to reduce recruiting costs for major employers and serve job seekers by creating a shared pool of qualified job candidates and offering rejected applicants opportunities with other alliance members.

Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites trade group, calls AllianceQ an interesting development. But he said the initiative “faces two pretty big challenges.”

One is that the passive job seekers that companies prize—people not actively looking for a new job—aren’t likely to be drawn into the AllianceQ database, Weddle said. The other is that corporate recruiters often fail to review even the résumés they have within their system, making additional candidates of questionable value.

“The issue is not getting more candidates, but getting better ones,” said Weddle, who also is head of Weddle’s, a research and publishing firm focused on recruiting issues.

Phil Haynes, managing director of the alliance, said its job-matching approach from QuietAgent is superior to the typical method of comparing résumés against job descriptions. While both résumés and job postings can be poorly written and result in firms missing the best candidate for the job, he said, AllianceQ relies on a competency-based system designed to better connect job-seekers and openings.

“It’s like eHarmony,” he said, referring to the popular online dating site.

Organizations with more than 5,000 employees can join the alliance. Members will send rejected job applicants an e-mail inviting them to make themselves available for jobs at other AllianceQ member firms by filling out a competencies profile.

The QuietAgent technology then works to find matches between job openings and candidates in the QuietAgent database. That database currently holds about 300,000 candidates, with most of the existing job-seekers coming through other QuietAgent partners, such as the National Urban League.

QuietAgent’s system is designed to be anonymous, with the identity of the job seeker cloaked. Companies that get a match and want to contact the candidate invite the person to reveal their contact information.

AllianceQ member firms don’t pay anything to join the group or for candidates they get from other members. If a company wants to connect to a candidate from outside the alliance and the candidate accepts the invitation to share their contact information, the firm is charged $34.95. That fee is waived for founding members of the alliance.

AllianceQ isn’t the only attempt by large employers to pool resources in an effort to cut recruiting costs. DirectEmployers Association, which runs the JobCentral National Labor Exchange, is another example.

The new group effectively will compete against the résumé database services provided by DirectEmployers and job boards such as industry giant Monster.

But Haynes said AllianceQ already has generated a buzz among employers interested in joining. The organization expects to be around “100 companies strong” in the first quarter of 2009, he said.

—Ed Frauenheim

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