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NRG Energy Crowdsources Presidential Hunt

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday August 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

NRG_Energy_1Executive recruiting appears to be changing. Energy company NRG has put out a call for a new president for its solar company NRG Home, and it isn’t expecting to hear from professional headhunters.

Instead, it’s turned up the megaphone and reached out to its customers and clients – anyone actually, who isn’t a “corporation, partnership or other business entity.”

And the person who refers the winning candidate gets $100,000.

It’s the latest evidence of crowd-sourced recruiting and a concept handily referred to as the “X-prize” approach, in which members of the public have a chance to earn a handsome return for an innovative, hard-to-find or novel idea.

Crowdfunding searches: A growing concept

Jobylon, in Sweden, has made a business with this approach: The company encourages readers to pitch a reference of a qualified friend in exchange for the potential to win a moderately-sized “bounty.”

It also pitches its concept to employers. “The best candidates are not actively looking to change jobs,” says Jobylon on its website,  “you need to find them.”

Closer to home, Change.org has used this recruiting approach to find the right employee. Its pull was not just the $1,000 it offered for a stellar staffing lead, but the other $1,000 it promised to donate to a charity of choice. Given the fact that Change.org gains much of its strength from nonprofit initiatives, that wasn’t a bad $2,000 investment.

A headhunter or crowfunding solar expertise?

In this case, NRG could probably do quite well with the expertise of a professional headhunter that has a good knowledge of the global renewable energy market. But the corporation wouldn’t get half the publicity it would get by offering $100,000 for an enthusiastic referral.

With the latest round of solar tax credits due to end in 2016,  a crowd-sourced search that potentially touches all corners of the country may be a great way to promote a company’s growing services, especially when most headhunters charge more than 100 Gs for this level of executive search.

And NRG admits that it’s heading into new but potentially rewarding territory with an executive search of this level.

“Since this is the first time anything like this has been done, we don’t know what kind of volume we’ll get, but we are prepared to sift through all the referrals that we receive,” notes CEO and President David Crane. “In the worst-case scenario, we don’t find anybody, but we generate some buzz about what we’re trying to do with NRG Home.”

And yes, individuals can elect themselves. Should they win, the $100,000 goes to a charity of the employee’s choice.

Time-relased perks

NRG has clearly thought this process out, and well enough that it could be an incentive for other companies that want to use crowdsourcing as a way to both find staff and pitch their story. The referring party receives the first $50,000 upon hire, and the second installment after the employee has reached six months employment “in good standing.” It doesn’t clarify what the fine print is when it comes to the good standing of a president of a major company.

Hopefully NRG will share a bit about how the search went and what responses it received in the process. Given that the submission period ends today,  August 22 at 5 p.m. EST, Human Resources will probably be deep into the culling process very soon,  so get your referral in quickly if you think you’ve got that perfect president in mind.

Image credit: NRG


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