HRTech Interview with Michael DeSimone, Chief Executive Officer of SmartRecruiters

Join us for an in-depth conversation with Michael DeSimone, CEO of SmartRecruiters, as he shares his expert insight on the evolving landscape of HR technology.

Michael DeSimone

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

I’ve spent most of my career as a CEO in the field of commerce technology, leading a company (Borderfree) that offered global e-commerce solutions to large retailers and more recently cloud-based point-of-sale, payments, and lending services (ShopKeep and Lightspeed) in the Retail and Hospitality space.

While those companies provide services that are clearly different from SmartRecruiters, what all of them have in common is that they offer innovative solutions that solve real business problems. Furthermore, working in the eCommerce industry has provided me with a rich understanding of what technology resonates with consumers. There is no question that technological advancement requires us to raise the bar to meet our tech-savvy B2B customers’ expectations.

Organizations today are facing an increasingly complex set of circumstances from the pace of technology, skills gaps, an unpredictable global economy, and especially a new world of work with a post-pandemic workforce. This has created an unprecedented level of change required in how they approach, attract, recruit, and retain employees. I believe there is a huge opportunity to help organizations﹣especially those with high-stakes recruiting needs﹣solve these challenges, which is what led me to SmartRecruiters.

What led you to the HR/recruiting space?

The best technology companies provide platforms and services that do a fantastic job of solving real problems for businesses and consumers. The hiring challenges companies are facing today are both novel and immense. In my view, there is a significant opportunity for HR technology to help companies navigate these obstacles in a way that can make a meaningful difference. Hiring the right people is vital to the success of any organization, and technology will play an expanding role in transforming how companies approach talent acquisition.

What challenges are companies and individuals facing today from a recruiting perspective?

Companies today are facing once-in-a-generation levels of change when it comes to recruiting: shifting from regional to national or international sourcing, hiring into remote and hybrid environments, effectively and compliantly managing fractional, contract, and gig roles, balancing intense headcount demands with DEIB commitments, incorporating AI into screening and hiring processes, increasing transparency while removing bias ﹣all against the backdrop of a global labor shortage. The TA professionals we work with make it clear ﹣for high-stakes hiring, there is no room for error in the current macroeconomic environment.

For candidates, the job search process is often time-consuming and frustrating. Job seekers are forced to navigate a complex and confusing landscape of job posting boards, company websites, inconsistent communications, meaningless interviews, and a lack of responsiveness, feedback, and follow-up from many hiring companies.

Taken together, these challenges represent significant barriers to what both sides of the equation are seeking ﹣ Hiring Success ™. We believe that the right TA platform can eliminate these barriers, which is what drove us to launch our recently announced Hiring Without Boundaries™ vision, which we believe is the future of Talent Acquisition.

SmartRecruiters is a broad offering. Can you break down the platform for our readers?

SmartRecruiters is a comprehensive talent acquisition suite that offers everything from job posting and applicant tracking to candidate engagement and onboarding. Our enterprise hiring platform is designed to help all global enterprises and industries streamline their hiring process and make it easier to find, qualify, hire, and onboard the right talent quickly and effectively.

At the heart of our platform is our Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which allows recruiters to manage candidates through the entire hiring process. We also offer tools for sourcing candidates, engaging with them through career websites, email, and text messages, and even conducting interviews remotely. Our platform is designed to be flexible and customizable so that companies can tailor it to their specific needs.

Who is your ideal customer? Give us an example.

Our ideal customer is one that tends to operate in a world of high-stakes hiring. This means organizations whose hiring profile is primarily high-volume, high-scarcity, high-touch, and ﹣ especially ﹣ a combination of all three.

Said another way, the ideal SmartRecruiters customer tends to be organizations that have built successful businesses around these hiring profiles, and now recognize their continued ability to compete for this type of talent in today’s highly challenging environment will be dependent on their ability to access a world-class talent acquisition ecosystem ﹣ not by continuing to rely on an underpowered HCM ATS module or standalone legacy software.

How do you view the talent market today? Have the economic headwinds had an impact?

The talent market is highly competitive today, and companies are facing several challenges in finding and hiring the right talent. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the talent market, with many companies shifting to remote work and reevaluating their hiring strategies. Economic headwinds have also had a major impact, with some industries experiencing significant disruption.

The demand for top-quality talent remains strong, and it will remain a global imperative for companies to find and hire the right talent. Our enterprise hiring platform can help companies navigate the current landscape and stay competitive in this global talent market.

AI, specifically Generative AI, is the talk of the town. Do you see it having a significant impact on recruiting?

Generative AI will change the game, not just for TA tech, but all technology solutions. A game changer is an ability to drive robust conversational queries that can access multiple data sources simultaneously and self-learn to increase accuracy. However, that being said, there is still a lot for us to learn about how to apply this new technology responsibly.

We also recognize that there are challenges associated with AI, particularly around bias and data privacy. At SmartRecruiters, we are committed to exploring ways to leverage AI responsibly and ethically, and we are constantly working to ensure that our platform remains fair, transparent, and unbiased.

Does SmartRecruiters leverage AI in some way today?

Yes, SmartRecruiters leverages AI in many ways today. Most notably through our SmartAI product which automates screening and helps recruits compile a short list of individuals to screen first. AI and the power of ML models, however, will continue to evolve for us in the near future.

We are constantly looking for ways to develop our use of AI and to ensure that it is used responsibly and ethically. AI has the potential to transform the world of hiring, and we are committed to being at the forefront of this transformation.

What advice would you have for a professional looking to take their AI / ML skills to the next level?

My advice would be to focus on building a strong foundation in the basics of AI and ML, including statistics and programming. I would also encourage those interested in truly leveraging generative AI to become highly proficient in prompt design. This area of AI solutioning will become even more important as companies transition from standard AI and ML designs to generative AI-based solutions. It is also important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the field and to be willing to constantly learn and adapt as the field evolves. There are a wide array of complimentary online AI courses available to stay educated in the rapidly evolving AI space.

Another important aspect is to focus on building practical experience by working on real-world projects and collaborating with others. Building a solid network and seeking out mentorship opportunities can also help advance your skills and career.

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Michael DeSimone Chief Executive Officer of SmartRecruiters

Michael brings over 20 years of experience driving revenue growth, expanding product portfolios, and building high-performing teams. As the CEO of ShopKeep, a cloud-based point-of-sale system provider, Michael successfully led the company through a significant growth phase and ultimately orchestrated its acquisition by Lightspeed POS, where he served as Chief Business Officer for the past two years. Before ShopKeep, Michael served as CEO of Borderfree, an e-commerce platform provider for leading retailers. He led the company’s growth from a startup to a publicly traded company that was ultimately acquired by Pitney Bowes in 2015.


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