CEO INSIGHTS: “WHAT INSPIRES ME IS THE WORLD THAT EMERGES ON THE OTHER SIDE.”
Welcome to a CEO Insights edition of the TotalPicture Podcast. I’m Peter Clayton, and I’m excited to have back on TotalPicture, the Founder & CEO of SmartRecruiters, Jerome Ternynck. I first met Jerome in 2017 in San Francisco at UNLEASH. At the time, SmartRecruiters had about 200 employees.
Fast-forward to an August 2020 press release with the opening paragraph: SmartRecruiters is proud to announce it posted its best first-half results in company history, in the middle of a pandemic. While market competitors reduced workforces and scaled back operations, SmartRecruiters doubled down on uniting customers, pivoting R&D efforts, and spearheading innovations for remote work. The investment yielded positive results: over 200 enterprises joining the SmartRecruiters family.” I would say that’s pretty amazing, Jerome. Here’s another soundbite from your press release:
“Throughout it all, SmartRecruiters decided against furloughs and mass layoffs. Instead, the company leveraged the moment to recruit great talent from the market, expanding its sales team, investing in key leaders in professional services and sales, and growing its R&D team.”
- So first of all, welcome. Let’s go back to March/April of this year. What was going through your mind, and how have you been able to pivot the company so successfully?
- In some ways, the pandemic is something like an earthquake. You wake up, and overnight everything has changed. SmartRecruiters has employees across the globe. Were you able to communicate a consistent message? And if so, how did you do it?
- What have you learned about leading when virtually everyone is working virtually? How are you able to keep employees motivated and engaged?
- What have you learned about staying connected and engaged with your customers?
- Are you’re still hiring?
- How are you onboarding new employees?
- I believe I’ve heard that your company is going virtual forever. Is that true?
- What will SmartRecruiters’ San Francisco headquarters look like one year from now?
- If some of the members of your San Francisco team decide to move to say – Utah – will you adjust their compensation to reflect a much lower cost of living?
- Here’s an excerpt from our 2017 podcast: “SmartRecruiters is really built as the generational successor into the applicant tracking system, to the first generation of the applicant tracking system. We are an integrated talent acquisition suite, so think CRM + marketing + ATS in one modern platform that is fully mobile-enabled, that people love using, highly collaborative and it’s got a built-in marketplace.” Okay, this was three years ago. Bring us up-to-date on the advancement of your platform and capabilities?
- Let’s talk about the elephant in the corporate boardroom, shall we? You recently published an article on LinkedIn titled
The 10 Principles of Diversity Hiring
Published on October 14, 2020
And this article has your byline. I’m Quoting: “SmartRecruiters recently announced our plan to be an anti-racist force in the recruiting market. Today, I’m sharing the next step on this journey to drive anti-racist and overall diverse hiring practices.”
- Let’s face it, Jerome, most companies, especially, large publicly traded companies talk a good game, but that’s generally what it is. (I encourage our viewers to check out my recent conversation with Jackye Clayton on YouTube). So, what motivated, or inspired you to go all-in on diversity hiring?
- This is a remarkable, detailed document that outlines very specific goals. I’ll put a link in the show notes. And I’d like to have you expand on a few of the bullet points.
- (Discussion of Diversity Hiring article).
- Somehow though the tremendous growth of SmartRecruiters managed to write a book titled, Hiring Success. How Visionary CEOs Compete for the Best Talent. Give us a brief overview.
- If you were writing this book today, what would you change? And what would you add?
- Through the pandemic, what has inspired you?
- As you know, Jerome, a lot of recruiters, TA leaders, HR managers and others in our space have lost their jobs. What advice can you offer them?