HRTech interview with CEO and founder of SmartRecruiters – Jerome Ternynck

Employees today are firmly in the driver’s seat. This was already the case before the pandemic; it’s more pronounced now. The sooner companies recognize this, the better. Traditional recruiting methods don’t cut it anymore.


Jerome Ternynck shares his expertise in modernizing hiring and helping recruiters in performing better.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What drove you to start SmartRecruiters?
After finishing military service, I worked in Prague as a recruiter. It was during that time that I realized that helping companies succeed was not just about helping filling job titles. The key was to help them identify the right talent at scale.
Later, I built other talent-related businesses with the goal of maximizing “talent velocity”. The first software I built was an applicant tracking system (MrTed) that launched in 2002. By 2010, I sold my software company and moved to San Francisco with a new mission: to create something better.
I saw the need to modernize the traditional applicant tracking system (ATS) because they were difficult to use, often inefficient, and unable to produce hiring at scale. That’s when SmartRecruiters was born. I knew I could help modernize hiring and truly help recruiters do their jobs better by eliminating search friction so that they could focus on finding the right candidates by integrating outward bound recruiting tools directly into a platform.

2. SmartRecruiters is a broad offering. Can you tell us how it helps companies recruit talent?
SmartRecruiters connects people to jobs at scale by helping organizations attract, select, and hire the best available talent through its talent acquisition suite.
It includes end-to-end recruiting capabilities on a single platform, with quarterly product releases built in-house to help companies compete for talent.
We also offer true partnership–not just the software–to assist organizations on their journey towards Hiring Success.
The SmartRecruiters’ community is also highly-engaged with 2,500+ talent acquisition leaders in the Hiring Success network and 600+ recruiting partner solutions in the marketplace.

3. Who is your ideal customer? Give us an example.
Attracting and retaining talent remains the number one concern of CEOs according to the most recent Conference Board C-Suite Outlook 2022. For me, the ideal customer understands that recruiting is the lifeblood of their business. The true innovators, who are fundamentally shifting talent acquisition from a process-based function to a business-outcomes-based one—using modern, digital technologies and engaging user experiences to attract top talent at scale.

4. How do you view the talent market today? Has the pandemic affected the talent market?
Recruiting is not just a recruiters’ problem any longer. C-Suite executives, especially CEOs, are finding it difficult to find the right talent to fill crucial roles.
Employees today are firmly in the driver’s seat. This was already the case before the pandemic; it’s more pronounced now. The sooner companies recognize this, the better. Traditional recruiting methods don’t cut it anymore.

With the “Great Resignation,” ultimately followed by the “Great Rehire,” job candidates have unusual leverage. Companies need to think outside the box to retain, attract, and hire the best talent.

The organizations that embrace modern technology and create engaging user experiences will inevitably be the ones that win the war for talent.

5. Now that so many of us work remotely, will companies look for talent outside their borders?
Absolutely. It’s inevitable. But many companies still limit hiring to candidates close to their HQ. The world has changed. Talent is globally dispersed. You have to look beyond your borders to compete.
SmartRecruiters has not only adapted their product to function in a remote-first world, we’ve embraced it internally and made it the core of who we are. Not long after the pandemic hit, we made the decision based on feedback from our workforce to be a “ remote-first” organization going forward.
Having the freedom to hire outside our office’s physical location instantly expanded our access to a larger pool of talent. You can hire people anywhere in the world. Since our transition to remote-first, we’ve hired people of 20 different nationalities based in 100 different cities. This inherently encourages diversity and breeds an inclusive culture.

6. What are some marketing strategies companies can apply to recruiting?
Recruitment marketing is vitally important. To be successful, talent acquisition leaders must surround themselves with strong marketing competencies within the Talent Acquisition function. They also need the right equipment: clear metrics, a measurable process, and a purpose-built technology to handle recruitment operations and tasks.
A strong career page is also a necessity. It helps companies target active and passive candidates. When done right, they project an attractive brand by using features like personalized content and suggested jobs for each candidate. We help our customers do just that with SmartRecruiters Attrax.
Providing an amazing onboarding experience is also mission critical. Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience greater new hire productivity and an increase in talent retention. Research shows that nearly two-thirds of employees stay with a company for three or more years if they experience great onboarding. We’ve listened to our customer’s needs and created a product called SmartOnboard that’s fully integrated into our ATS and truly transforms the onboarding process for hiring managers and new employees.
Also, your employees are often your best ambassadors. Give them the tools and motivation to engage their peers. Talent can come from many different sources.

7. What do recruiters need to think about when approaching talent today?
You have to meet employees where they are. Flexibility is key.
Think like a marketer. As I mentioned previously, companies derive great results by applying marketing strategies to recruiting.
Look internally, when and if it makes sense. Often the best talent is right under your nose.
Offer candidates personalized, dynamic experiences. For example, an engaging career site can boost conversion rates by 50% or more.

8. Do you think we will go back to full-time in-person work or will adapt to a more hybrid environment long term?
Remote is here to stay. One thing is for sure: the world is different. People have become accustomed to greater flexibility. Some want to work remotely; others miss in-person interactions. Bottom line is they want options. And employers have to be sensitive to that.

Jerome Ternynck CEO and founder of SmartRecruiters

Jerome Ternynck is the CEO and founder of SmartRecruiters. He is an entrepreneur with his heart in recruiting and soul in technology. Jerome envisions a world where recruitment is transparent, and hiring is so easy that his grandma can do it. He's passionate about what he does, hates the status quo, and loves innovation especially when it reaches disruption. Jerome's goal is to bring the economy to its full potential by removing friction in the labor market and eradicating unemployment.


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