In the vast landscape of job-search Web sites, ExBigFive.com has carved out a high-profile niche: It targets former and current employees of Big Five accounting firms. The site, which has been live for three months, was founded by former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee J.D. DeRosa. Companies such as Intel, Oracle, and Lucent have signed up to access ExBigFive's database, which includes 4,000 candidates. Database searches are free, and companies pay a $6,500 fee for each new hire they find through ExBigFive. Colleagues who refer candidates to the site receive $500 if that person is placed via ExBigFive.
Since headhunter fees can range upwards of 25% on new hires' base salaries, the site's flat-fee approach can save companies thousands of dollars, DeRosa says. It's also designed to save time by gathering a pool of high-caliber candidates. "If a person has been hired and trained by a Big Five firm, that says something about a person--they've been in high-pressure situations and they know how to deal with clients," DeRosa says.
Through ExBigFive, employers can E-mail potential candidates regarding job openings, and the candidates' contact information remains cloaked until they choose to release it. How it works: Companies send out a batch of E-mails simultaneously for a particular position, and ExBigFive gathers candidate responses for five days. After that time, the site informs the employer of how many respondents expressed interest or uninterest, as well as how many failed to respond. The site then releases contact information for candidates who expressed interest, so employers and potential employees can communicate directly.
About 60% of job requests received by the site are for IT personnel, DeRosa says. One of those requests came from Atlanta-based Computer Science Corp., which hired former PricewaterhouseCoopers employee Jaime Hollingsworth as an application builder in August. Hollingsworth, who began looking for a new position in June, says ExBigFive's targeted approach appealed to her, since the job site would understand the value of Big Five employees' skills. She also appreciated having a temporary buffer before establishing direct contact with potential employers. "When you have a technology background, you can get inundated with bogus calls, so it's nice to have an intermediary," she says.
Although DeRosa is considering billboard advertising and radio slots in large markets such as New York and San Francisco, the company has run a lean advertising campaign thus far. Spending less than $40,000 during the past three month, ExBigFive has placed banner ads on Vault.com and 850 posters throughout Chicago's bus lines and subways. Says DeRosa: "We're not going to be the typical Internet company spending [millions] a quarter on advertising."