Firm Aims to Recruit The Perfect Recruiter
By Alan Davis
JetForm’s High Hopes Rest Upon One Hire, the VP Who Will Put Together a Winning Team. Tyler Hamilton, Technology Reporter, Toronto,
Special to the Globe & Mail
In the fast-paced world of information technology, a premium is placed on those who hire and those who get hired. But who hires the hirer when a vice-president of human resources decides to call it quits?
For Ottawa-based JetForm Corp., which is planning an aggressive growth strategy, placing an advertisement in the back of a newspaper is just the beginning. The software company has enlisted the services of Alan Davis & Associates Inc. of Hudson Heights, Que., a recruiting firm that specializes in finding the right people for a particular corporate culture. Head recruiter Alan Davis says a vice-president of human resources must embody and nurture that culture to carry a company through the pains of corporate growth.
“How well this person does is going to have a very large impact on how this companymoves forward,” he says.
Founded in 1982, JetForm has more than 600 employees, offices in 13 countries and annual sales of $111 million. The company estimates that more than four million people around the world use its “workflow” software, which helps move electronic documents more efficiently.
A medium-sized company today, JetForm wants to take its business to a new level.
Since high-tech companies are highly dependent on the quality of their people, what the head of human resources brings to the table is fundamental to any growth strategy.
“Somebody would need to know how to get from being medium-sized to large sized,” Mr. Davis says. “Managing growth is one of the key deliverables.”
Nobody knows that better than JetForm’s current vice-president of human resources, Rosemary Laurin, who recently married and is taking a sabbatical to spend more time with her new family. She doesn’t know how long her break from JetForm will be, but when she returns, she will take on a less senior position within the company. Ms. Laurin joined JetForm in 1994 as one of less than 40 employees.
“They had been at that number of employees for the previous 10 years,” she said. Then the company designed what it felt was a winning product, and decided to move from being a consulting firm to a software company.
“They had to make the decision to go big or go home. They decided to go big.” As JetForm grew, the closely knit, like-minded group that created the company managed to preserve a set of values that can be found today on its Web site. Its work environment is casual and friendly, honest and open, flexible and comfortable, according to the Web site, but it’s also challenging and innovative.
“It’s an absolute mandate to try to keep that at JetForm,” Ms. Laurin explains. “It’s not just a policy statement. Our management group defines that culture in the way they conduct themselves. The person coming in to replace me needs to know how to take us from where we are today to the year 2000 and beyond”.
That’s where Alan Davis & Associates enters the scene. The 20-person recruiting firm – which works with eight companies in the high-tech sector, including Northern Telecom Ltd. – has a mandate to build strong, enduring relationships with clients so it is better positioned to understand and fulfill their hiring needs.
“The more we work with them, the easier it becomes,” says Mr. Davis, adding that JetForm’s clearly defined culture is a pleasant contract to some companies, which often find it difficult to define themselves. He says the typical candidate for a vice-president of human resources position would be a vice-president in a smaller organization looking for opportunities in a larger and more established company, or a director of human resources in a larger company who would be willing to go to a smaller firm for a higher title. While finding someone in the same industry would be beneficial, Mr. Davis says he’s prepared to look across industries and beyond borders to find a candidate with the necessary skills, attitude, values and level of experience – although a conceptual knowledge of the technology, trends and hiring challenges in the high-tech sector is also key. Compensation, meanwhile, could range from a base salary of $90,000 to well over $100,000, he says.
While performance-related bonuses of up to 30 per cent of base salary are not uncommon, he adds that smaller companies typically don’t offer such packages.
Fortunately for Mr. Davis, the friendly nature of Ms. Laurin’s departure from JetForm gives her an opportunity to assist in the search for her replacement. Sean Taylor, executive recruiter for Asset Computer Personnel Ltd. in Toronto, says a growing technology company like JetForm would need a head of human resources that can react quickly to sudden staffing requirements.
The nature of the high-tech sector leaves little opportunity for companies to take their time, he says. “By the time they’ve shopped around, they’ll find that someone who was originally a good fit found another job and is off the market,” Mr. Taylor says. “Recruiting is something that pops up out of the blue. It’s like a fire that needs to be stamped out.”
Alan Davis & Associates Inc. (450) 458-3535 – www.alandavis.com