You Can Still Call Her Jenny, But Watch Out If She Sets Her Sights On Madam President

Jenny DeVaughnIf Jenny DeVaughn hadn’t fallen in love with recruiting a decade ago, we might be calling her Madam President. Instead, you can still call her Jenny even as she trades her Chief Enthusiast Officer title, today, for the more prosaic director, social strategy for Bernard Hodes.

Last week, as she was looking forward to her first day on the job today with the international recruitment advertising and acquisition firm, DeVaughn was all excitement and, well, as befits a CEO, enthusiasm.

“My heart is in social media,” she says. “The people at Hodes are incredibly smart about using social media and they are working with some of the biggest and best companies. That’s what’s so exciting about what I’m going to be doing. I can have a bigger, broader impact and work with really great people.”

She actually said a lot more about her new job, but, like trying to sketch the scenery from a bullet train, the best I could do was catch every third or fourth sentence. It was enough, though, to get a sense that DeVaughn preaches what she practices.

She is one determined woman who knows how to set goals and achieve them. Too many people, she told me, “not-work instead of network,” playing Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook.

It’s not a strategy, she says, if you don’t have goals that can be measured. Whether it’s candidates that apply, conversions that occur, hires that are made, or relationships established.

When she launched her own short-lived social media consultancy last summer, she wrote that she “stayed up many nights actively net-WORKING in-person, not social NOT-working. My activities were aligned with strategic business goals. Also, I was fortunate to have mentors who gave me honest advice.”

It was that grit and determination — plus, of course, the smarts to make it happen — that lead her to switch from a career in hospitality, to start over learning the ropes in recruiting.

DeVaughn grew up in a large family in Iowa, the daughter of a Korean mother and business owner father. She left after high school to seek her fortune, eventually landing in Phoenix where she worked as an executive assistant to the owner of a small chain of sports-themed restaurants and night clubs.

Along the way, she discovered recruiting and it was love at first sight. Determined to learn the craft and become a career recruiter, DeVaughn moved to Atlanta and a job as a receptionist with a legal, finance, and professional staffing and search firm that promised her the chance to recruit.

“I came here (to Atlanta from Phoenix, where she began her recruiting career) and I didn’t know anyone,” she recalls. “I had to quickly learn and build a network. I did and I’ve learned from every person I met.”

She learned quickly, building a LinkedIn network that now numbers more than 19,000 connections. While she’s proud that her network size has enabled her to source candidates without ever paying a fee, DeVaughn talks about the personal relationships that are at the heart of a core network.

In building her Atlanta network, DeVaughn would attend professional and social HR meetings, especially SHRM-Atlanta, where she is now executive vice president of communication and PR.

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“I would do research,” she explains. “I knew who I was going to meet before I went to those events. And I knew something about them.”

By 2006 she had won the Rookie of the Year award, was officially named a Rising Star and moved on to Atlanta’s Talent Connections where she met her mentor, Tom Darrow, the company’s founder. DeVaughn credits him with nurturing her passion for networking and encouraging her entrepreneurial drive, supporting her launch of Social Precision.

A blog and a consulting sideline at first, she made Social Precision a full-time consultancy last summer with her as consultant, trainer, and chief enthusiast officer.

In an email before we spoke, DeVaughn wrote:

“Many people didn’t know if it was the best idea to leave a successful and wonderful recruiting firm where I was still generating commission with stable clients. There were several recruiters and HR professionals in transition. Why would I volunteer to join them?”

Darrow encouraged her to follow her heart. And that lead to a chance meeting with some Bernard Hodes executives who attended a presentation she gave on LinkedIn. One thing lead to another and the offer was made to help lead social media strategy on an international scale.

“How often does this kind of opportunity come along,” DeVaughn says. “I’m just so very grateful to all those people who have helped me so much. I would not be where I am without my network. By network I mean my family, my business family, friends, savvy colleagues, all the people I meet.”

Looking forward to the start of her new job DeVaughn said, “Social media is one small part of a comprehensive recruiting strategy, but it is such an important part that I don’t think you can really say you have a recruiting strategy without it.”

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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21 Comments on “You Can Still Call Her Jenny, But Watch Out If She Sets Her Sights On Madam President

  1. Love stories like that. Thanks John for an engaging article and Jenny, you go girl! Hopefully we can meet in person one day.

  2. Congratulations Jenny for being incredible and to Bernard Hodes for choosing Jenny to work with you. She is always willing to encourage and help.

  3. Congratulations Jenny. And thanks for your ever so exciting views on Social Recruiting. Hope we meet again soon in order to discuss and exchange your and Hodes’ ideas and vision on Social Media and Recruitment in reference to PeopleXS. This time in Europe or the Netherlands!

  4. Wonderful news and love to hear that Jenny will have an international platform for working her social media strategy. Beyond her expert knowledge, she is one of the most chrasimatic people you’ll ever meet!

  5. Kudo’s, well done, and VERY well deserved Jenny.

    Looking forward to congratulating you personally tonight at your presentation to the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Recruiting Society tonight. Ronnie Bratcher told me late last week that an audience for your presentation of about 100 are expected.
    See you then . . . and . . . all the Best! . . . always! Ray

  6. You go girl – very exciting! Congratulations! BTW, love the “it’s social NETworking, not social NOTworking” – simple, yet brilliant angle.

  7. Congrats to Jenny on her new position. While social networking has grown and is a tool within our industry it will never outweigh the phone as king.

    Being able to get on the phone and develop key relationships that drive a referral network will never be overtaken as the key to long lasting success in our industry.

  8. Hodes is a visionary organization, it’s where I first got into the recruiting industry (back when dinosaurs walked the earth) and I’m continually impressed with the evolution of its products & services over the years. Best wishes for your continued success & much happiness in your new position!

  9. Jenny, Hodes is as fortunate to have identified your talent as you are to have received this wonderful opportunity. Congratulations and from the bottom of my heart I wish you much continued success ~Karla

  10. Thank you to you all, especially John Zappe and Todd Raphael, who made this unbelievable article possible. I’m humbled by your heartfelt comments and support. Hope to see you all at the ERE Spring Expo and Tweetup!

  11. Congrats Jenny! As we leave behind print era to all things Digital, Web-based, and New Media, there will be an ever-increasing need to stay apprised of all that is social. No one could have guessed where we would now be or what we have come to expect of the connections we have made.
    This is a perfect job for you and I look forward to seeing where you take it. Call me sometime – I think we are soul sisters!
    ~Rayanne

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