With the move to a knowledge-driven economy, the landscape of corporate hiring has changed dramatically since Devon James Associates Inc. (DJA) was founded in 1992. “Back then, all a recruiter had to do was put their ‘stamp’ on a resume, forward it to the client and wait to collect their fees”, said Colleen Aylward, President of DJA. “We’ve never accepted those practices. Clients want to know whose side you are on and in whose interests you are working.”
Aylward’s early vision attracted the attention of, then startup, Amazon.com’s founder Jeff Bezos, helping Amazon to hire more than 100 of their initial employees. Following the company’s early successes, a bevy of West Coast business leaders have tapped into DJA’s unique approach to attracting the best, including Richard Tait, CEO/founder of Cranium, Inc., David Pool, founder of SPRY/CompuServe and Brian Koblenz, vice president of software development for Cray, Inc.
Driving The Move From Candidate Advocacy To Recruiting Program Management
One of the key differences in DJA’s service is reflected in their approach to their clients. “We’ve re-defined the role of recruiter into a broader Program Management function that places significant emphasis on the client’s business plan and model, structuring detailed marketing plans tailored to individual recruiting needs, educating our client on market realities and research, identifying target candidates and, most importantly, helping our clients establish a recruiting technology infrastructure to support all of their hiring practices. Recruiting has traditionally been a somewhat hit or miss proposition and we bring discipline and structure to the process.”
According to Cranium’s Tait, “Not only did DJA recruit outstanding new hires on schedule and on budget, but the tools, training and processes they installed while on site have delivered incredible value to our organization.”
Aylward’s business intent is to “work herself out of a job” by transferring DJA’s knowledge, expertise, skills and systems to each client. “As a standard part of doing business, we train our clients to use the tools and techniques that make our approach successful”, said Aylward. “When we leave, the headcount needs for that phase are fulfilled and each client has a reusable resource enabling them to take-over and manage the entire recruiting program moving forward.”
The DJA Advantage: A Cost-Effective, Leveraged Approach
In an industry that jealously guarded its techniques and contacts, DJA is surprisingly open in their approach. “Our most critical job is to fill open positions with high-performing quality employees that match the client’s corporate culture”, says Aylward. “To achieve that we team with a broad network of specialty partners who bring niche skills - technology, marketing, recruiting, research – to the party, and enable us to satisfy our client’s highest expectations.”
Rather than basing fees on percentage of salary, DJA usually calculates charges on a per-project or hourly basis based on the client’s budget. “We’re generally less expensive than traditional recruiters, to the tune of $50,000 - $500,000 in savings,” Aylward says. “In addition, the value-add is enormous — the training, the expanded network and the populated leave-behind database system.”
“We had set an expectation that we'd hire this many people in this time frame but no idea how to pull it off, and then in walked Devon James”, says George Behnke, Director of Software Development, for Cray, Inc. “They not only hired the 17 developers we needed for a critical project, but when they left they had helped us hire 46 new people across all departments… …all of them exactly what we needed.”
DJA is based in Bellevue, Washington, with a second office in Menlo Park, California.
Known for her “futuristic view” of the recruitment industry, Aylward predicts:
- More and more companies will hire full-time researchers in their human resources/recruiting departments.
- Contract research will become even bigger than contracted recruiting services.
- Search engines and job boards will merge with demographic data banks, and recruiting/staffing will become increasingly technical and complex.
- Within three to five years, every computer user will have a profile on the Web, like it or not, with demographic, financial and other data gleaned from many sources.
- Candidates will take skills and personality tests online and e-mail them to online job boards along with their resumes.
Originally appeared in Forbes. Republished with permission from Devon James Associates Inc.