HRTech Interview with Rebecca Carr, Smart Recruiters

Discover Rebecca Carr's perspective on talent acquisition, AI's role, and the exciting future for the HR tech platform as she converses with HRTech Cube.


Tell us about your journey and what led you back to SmartRecruiters.

SmartRecruiters has always held a special place in my heart. When I started at the company (the first time) back in 2014, we were a small group launching our first B2B product. To be a part of the growth for so many years was instrumental to my growth as a leader.

I originally left SmartRecruiters in pursuit of a very specific role in a specific company and found that at Checkr. But when the team called me back and asked for me to rejoin as CPO at such a critical time for the brand and market, I couldn’t turn them down.

Everything from the company’s unique connected culture to its market leadership, made it impossible to say no. And the company couldn’t be better positioned to disrupt the talent acquisition landscape at such a volatile time for the industry. I want to be part of this journey. What can I say: my passion for this space runs too deep!

What attracted you to the HR / recruiting space in the first place?

I used to be a primary user! My first job was as a recruiter (both contingent and in house) and then HRBP (human resources business partner).

As someone that used a number of HR tech tools on a daily basis, I was always empathic to the challenges they presented.

These experiences ignited my passion for improving the process and the technology. This drive is still very much a part of me, and it is precisely why I am at a company like SmartRecruiters that is dedicated to creating a better experience for recruiting professionals.

How do you view the challenges and opportunities today from a talent acquisition perspective?

Talent acquisition is a unique workflow in that hiring and onboarding is important to everyone at a company (and critical to their success). Yet the process of hiring, and the technology around us, is generally speaking, very poorly adopted.

This slows down TA teams, makes it hard to both subjectively AND objectively evaluate the talent coming into the business, and limits the amount of insight HR teams can gather from this workflow.

As the who, where, and how work is performed changes around us, technology needs to adapt. Today, TA teams struggle to discover the ‘right’ candidates both internally and externally, get consistent adoption from their hiring teams (as these TA technologies don’t meet users in the systems they work in most regularity, and manage data access and compliance across all the tools that use.

Can you tell us a bit about SmartRecruiters new vision of Hiring Without Boundaries?

Though I didn’t mention it above, it remains one of the things that excited me most about coming back to SmartRecruiters. We joke here (kidding, not kidding) that TA teams are “stuck in their ATS.’ They have been forced to leverage systems that aren’t usable, aren’t flexible, and don’t connect seamlessly to the rest of the tech that they use. Hiring teams chase them for results, but refuse to log in. Operations teams chase them for data, but they can’t get it easily.

As we look forward, we seek to extend SmartRecruiters into the systems that matter most for our TA teams maximizing the engagement they get from their business and the data access and technology they need to do more with less – think AI, APIs, and more predictive insight. Should we do this successfully, we’ll help teams hire faster and smarter. This we believe to be the most critical problem they look to solve.

How has the SmartRecruiters platform grown from a product perspective in the last few months?

Our investment in Hiring without Boundaries has unlocked a new excitement in the team. The outcome it speaks to resonates deeply with our R&D team and has sparked innovation, experimentation, and speed. Outside of the investments we have made and continue to make in our foundation offerings – all based on the feedback of our customers – we’ve seen more focused efforts around our new “AI Co-pilots” which will unlock task efficiency for end users, more robust API and Authentication infrastructure for improved developer experience, and engaging features like our deepening investment in integrations to Slack and Teams (as an example). Many exciting things are in store over the next several months.

Do you think AI will have a long-lasting impact on talent acquisition?

Of course. Not sure any interest or function will see the ripple effects of AI. For Talent Acquisition I foresee impact in two specific ways, though.

The first is around AI for decision making and discovery. With the volume of talent available and the nuanced skill requirements cropping up across all industries, the use of AI to discover, filter, and identify new talent will be ever present and used often. Understanding what is required to do a job and finding people quickly with the skills to do it seems to be at the forefront of the ‘future of work’ conversation and AI will make it easier for people to discover this talent faster.

The second is around AI for task automation. AI can automate some many things people spend hours doing each day and the efficiency it will create will be hard to roll back on. The cost savings alone will make businesses’ more efficient and effective.

What’s on the roadmap for SmartRecruiters in the months ahead?

Where do I start! So much good work is happening now. We break our roadmap into very specific “jobs to be done” by our end users – more specifically, talent attraction, talent selection, hiring process, and admin experiences.

In the space of the talent attraction, you’ll see deeper investments in optimized advertising, integrated candidates applied across multiple channels, internal mobility enhancements, and deeper integrations to external sourcing platforms.

For talent selection, you’ll see significant investments in workflow automation, AI for task completion, and multi-channel communication (en masse).

For the hiring process, you’ll see optimized job management, bulk offer workflows for high volume, and additional enhancements to our forms and validations.

And last but not least, for admin experience, you’ll see significant investment in API infrastructure, authentication, sandbox management, and the dashboard analytics.

What advice would you give a budding professional looking to work in the HR tech field?

Understand your user and their most critical problems well. The complexities of this market and workflow are not to be underestimated and any assumption that you can innovate past their challenges is a presumption you will regret making.

Yes, there is a LOT of room for innovation in this space but failing to emphasize with your primary personas will lose you the trust and confidence of the organizations you try to engage with.

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Rebecca Carr Smart Recruiters

Rebecca is the Chief Product Officer at SmartRecruiters. With over 15 years of experience in the recruiting and HR technology space, including as the SVP Growth for SmartRecruiters, Rebecca recently rejoined SmartRecruiters from Checkr, where she was the General Manager for Checkr Pay, Checkr’s earned wage access product. Alongside this experience, she has led global product teams at Jobvite, Branchout, and Playdom (acquired by Disney in 2010). Her deep understanding of the customer problem space, bringing innovative products to customers, expanding product portfolios, and deepening customer relationships gives her a unique perspective on this role and space. When not in the office, Rebecca is a triathlete, mom of 2 little girls, and loves spending time on her pilates reformer. She attended the University of California – Berkeley and Harvard Business School and lives outside of San Francisco