The Design Business Association is planning a recruitment service for its member consultancies which will aim to cut the cost of finding staff.
DBA board member Barry Salter, who is chairman of Design in Action and is working on the proposal for the DBA, says: “There is a huge marketplace out there. DBA members represent a very large number of consultancies that designers and executives would want to work for.
“It can cost thousands to find a senior designer – we may be able to improve on that.” Recruitment consultancies charge up to 20 per cent of the first year’s salary of the candidates they place.
The DBA is to research the idea with all its member consultancies. An initial questionnaire goes out this week, asking how members recruit, how much they spend on recruitment, and what they would want from a DBA service.
The DBA has been consulting a recruitment expert who does not work in the design industry. “We are going to look carefully at the benefits we can create for members,” says Salter.
Together with other DBA initiatives, such a client referral service, the recruitment scheme will help make DBA membership “more automatic”, claims Salter. “We have been looking at where consultancies are spending a significant amount of money, and recruitment is one of those areas.”
Salter says the DBA is aware there is a “niche industry” of recruitment consultancies which specialise in design. “We don’t want to go head on with those people,” says Salter. “We want to create a complementary rather than a conflicting service.”
Salter claims the DBA has “some interesting ideas” on this, but adds: “Before we rush in and implement them, we want to see what the members think.”
Recruitment consultants are raising the issue of confidentiality as a stumbling block for a DBA recruitment service. But Salter counters: “There are structural solutions to that.”
And the issue of head-hunting, which can infuriate consultancy bosses, will not arise, says Salter: “There will be absolutely no head-hunting whatsoever.”
Kim Crawford, a director at recruitment consultancy Major Players, warns the DBA: “The market is very well serviced by some extremely good recruitment consultancies.
“It would concern me if the DBA thinks it can just open its doors and be a recruitment consultant – it’s not as easy as that. And for the DBA there is a danger of conflict of interest – what if a key member of staff from one of its members wants a job?”
Asked if she expects a price war between the DBA service and the recruitment consultancies, Crawford says: “I will be surprised if the DBA can offer a professional service at a lower price – you get what you pay for.”
Salter declines to estimate a start date, saying that the service will be up and running “as soon as we can effectively do it”.