Could We Use Congestion Pricing Theory in Recruiting? #SourceCon

Oh, lord, what the heck is Sackett talking about now!?

Congestion Pricing Theory (CPT) is basically paying more for convenience. We see it used on things like tollways, where if you want to ride on this road you pay a premium, or if you want to use this certain lane on a tollway you pay more for the access to a less congested lane of traffic.

You also see it at places like the movies. You pay $12 per ticket to go to a movie on a Saturday night at 8 pm, but if you go at 10 am on a Tuesday morning, you might get that same ticket for $8. It costs more to go during the busy time.

Airlines fully embrace CPT when you pay a little more to get on the plane first so you don’t have to deal with full overhead bins, etc. Theme parks now have tickets you can buy that lets you bypass the long lanes. Congestion Pricing Theory allows consumers to pay more for what they believe is important to them.

So, could we use this model in recruiting?

Let’s say you’re Google and you have thousands of people apply to your jobs that will never get seen. Could Google use CPT to allow applicants to pay an upcharge if they were certain to have their application examined and given feedback? Maybe it’s $25.

For $25 you can be assured your application will have a real human look at it. Would you pay to ensure that would happen? Depends on the company, the job, the competition, your income level, etc. But, the reality is, if someone turns CPT on in their hiring process, and their brand is very attractive, people would pay the fee!

Now, ethically, is this right?

Ethically is it right to have roads paid for by tax dollars, then to drive on those roads in a less congested way, you still have to pay more money? Is it right to charge one person a different, higher, price for the same service that another person paid less for?

One of the main complaints that candidates have about applying for jobs is the lack of information. The reason they don’t get the information they want is it costs too much money for organizations to properly staff TA shops in a way that would allow them to give this high level of feedback.

Congestion Pricing models would definitely give candidates and organizations an option to offer this service for those candidates who truly wanted the feedback they desired or at least more feedback then they’ve historically been given.

So, we don’t do this because we’ll say it impacts the poor and those out of work the most. They can’t afford the price to ensure they will be seen, so the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I think it’s interesting that this is the main argument of doing something like this, but we don’t argue this type of pricing when it comes to other parts of our life where these things used to be free, and now they are not.

I’m not saying that we limit those who apply. All are still open to apply and all will have the same experience as they had before. Some, who choose to have an elevated candidate experience, will choose to pay for that experience.

I’m not saying this will ever happen, but if it does, I’m not going to be shocked because we’ve seen so many successes using CPT in other areas of our lives.

What do you think? Hit me in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Could We Use Congestion Pricing Theory in Recruiting? #SourceCon

  1. Interesting tension here between giving some candidates a better experience and wanting all candidates to feel they’re being treated fairly. HR (under which recruiting tends to fall) tends to be risk-averse. Such companies won’t want to risk a negative perception problem from unequal treatment (e.g., rise in pay equity laws in response to countless lawsuits). But I can see a company whose recruitment function reports to somewhere other than HR testing this. If successful, watch the floodgates open!

  2. Thought provoking, but I hope we don’t see this CPT in recruitment.

    I would rather see improved process and systems (perhaps where AI could help) to provide more transparency and feedback to candidates who apply online. User experience (UX) improvement can help as well with the whole application process and oftentimes, ATS black hole.

  3. Love the originality of thought! Begs the question In an age of tech workflows why everyone can’t get info as to where they are at in the process anyway – it’s automated no?If it’s human time needed $25 doesn’t seem to cut it… how about closest matches get the time for free AI determined?

  4. Interesting concept. I’d also be concerned with TA employees subconsciously (or not) placing an unwarranted premium on the value of candidates who pay to be seen. There are study’s that show that people have a tendency to believe something is worth more when it costs more. Not exactly the same scenario but a similar concept. I also agree with Ane, providing an advantage to someone who is able to pay to play, could further perpetuate the current, growing gap in our socioeconomic classes.

  5. The difference is the cost vs. value of the exchange – in the traffic example the increase isn’t huge and the impact is a few minute (or more) of time.

    In your scenario the cost could be onerous and the impact is HUGE. The difference between poor and homeless and employed so I think the analogy breaks down when the impact is accounted for.

    So in other words – recruiting should operate like our “representative” government does. Pay for access.

    Yeah… nothing could go wrong with that model.

    Interesting to think about – not something that should ever be installed.

    Money is power/privilege. Add money to any normal arrangement and it always goes sideways.

  6. Yeah……… still can’t get past the fact that only the people who can afford it would be able to pay. If there are a few paid candidates, most recruiting departments would never look past them to the “free” applicants.

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