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23 February 2011

Pay your way to your dream job

How much would you pay to get the job you want?

By Susannah Butter

The perverse trend of paying for work experience opportunities is not restricted to Britain and David Cameron’s and the Tories’ internship auction. Unemployed Americans are so desperate for work that they are offering cash rewards to anyone who will give them a job.

The job-hunting site Career Element confidently lays out three seemingly simple steps to gainful employment:

“Offer a reward, hire agents. Land your dream job.”

Career Element is based in Palo Alto, California, and launched in October 2010 to connect job-seeking clients with “agents”, who can be either professional recruiters or people who have heard about job openings.

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There is no membership fee and it is easy to sign up, list your dream job and offer a cash “bounty”. Bounties currently on offer range from £10,000, for a position as a consultant with a suggested salary of $90,000, to the less tempting offer of $1 for a position as an information technology consultant, paying $65,000.

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If an agent helps a client get hired, they are rewarded with 87.5 per cent of the offered reward, and Career Element gets the remaining 12.5 per cent.

The rival company, which is two years old, charges $15 per listing per month. Time magazine reports that some 2,000 jobseekers have signed up to Meanwhile, Career Element has signed up 89 clients, one of whom has got a job.

Usually, job referral fees from headhunting and recruitment companies are paid by the employer. However, in the current economic climate where, according to a Gallup poll released on 11 February, 35 per cent of Americans felt unemployment was the biggest problem facing their country, it seems that people will stop at nothing to get the job they want.