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I'm just a girl in the world.. that kind of likes to write. Mom of 2 teen girls & work as Talent Attraction & Marketing professional. Oh, & I'm addicted to my phone, Social Media, HR/Talent Marketing & Caffeine... you can learn more about me at www.linkedin.com/in/theonecrystal

David, Goliath, & Industry Disruption w/ SmartRecruiters

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By now, many have heard SmartRecruiters’ huge announcement that they’ve secured $5M in Series A funding from top-tier VC firm Mayfield Funding to aid in their crusade to disrupt the Recruiting Industry’s job technology as we now know it.   From being likened to the iTunes of the Recruiting Industry to ‘David’ in a David & Goliath comparison; CEO Jerome Ternynck & his team are once again creating quite the buzz.

That’s right… this isn’t the first time.

I met Jerome back in July of 2011 at a #TNLive unConference event in San Antonio.  Jerome was speaking, quite passionately, on how it’s time for a change in SaaS within the HR/Recruiting Industry & this concept of #zeroUE …  striking out the “un” in unEmployment & how SmartRecruiters was set to aid in the initiative to get more people back to work & improving their careers.  He told me that his first step was to get the conversation started; that we needed to start somewhere… and why not now?  Why not us??  In all candor, at first I thought the whole thing was a little Utopian … how can one man, one company, one service really take on this behemoth Goliath that is Unemployment??

But he did.  Within days of that conference, the #ZeroUE movement gained an impressive amount of momentum on Twitter & the Social Media Streams; popping up in chats, tweets, LinkedIn Groups & status updates from many of those “in the know” within the Recruiting/HR Industry.  Conversations were happening everywhere; the status-quo behavior of skipping the uncomfortable conversations had been disrupted as conversations on what we could do to positively impact the situation began taking place.  Groups got together to look into tax-credits for employing the unemployed; volunteer workers joined movements to educate job seekers & aid in their career search initiatives cropped up all over the United States.

Jerome not only popped the ‘Goliath’ that is unemployment with his own slingshot; but taught an army of people how to aim with their own slingshots, as well.  Talk about disruption… did he end unemployment?  No, of course not – but he brought awareness to an issue many were used to turning a blind eye to because they didn’t know where to start.  It reminded me of something said by Robert Kennedy:  “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events; & in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”  

Perhaps the #zeroUE unEmployment initiative itself will not be the history bender; but just maybe the result of what SmartRecruiters‘  “Free as a Model,” Next-Gen SaaS does to the HR Technology space will be.

But what does “free as a model” mean & if it’s free… how is it like iTunes?? After all, while it doesn’t cost anything to download iTunes software; the number of receipts I have in my gmail account would beg to differ with the concept that iTunes is truly “free.”   The iTunes platform is really just a portal that allows us to buy content; unless I do, it doesn’t do me a lot of good… right?

Not so with SmartRecruiters.  First off, SmartRecruiters is really an all-in-one easy to use platform that combines free social software and best in class third-party services, such as: free job sites, access to paid job boards, social networks, assessment services, background check services, and even RPO services. There’s a data aggregation function across all users to help individual businesses make smarter decisions in sourcing and selecting the best candidates their jobs… wherever & whatever they happen to be.

Sounds neat; but, I decided that the best way to understand what their offering was all about was to take it for a real test-drive.  So, I signed my company, M3 Talent Consulting, up & within minutes I could see this was really very different from any ATS system I’d worked with before.  I was able to create a job posting for a Sales position I’m working on for a client; add candidates I already was aware to the applicant tracking system, & create a career site within literally minutes.  All free. 

Now, their career site is basic & yes, there are a lot of “add-on” service options that do cost money.  But it’s extremely plug-&-play … and you don’t have to use it.  No, it’s not likely the right solution for a company with a fully developed program with all the bells-&-whistles in place.  What it is, however, is a fantastic solution for tens- to hundreds-of thousands small- to mid-sized businesses who’ve yet to really develop their Recruiting technology program or are operating under the burden of expensive, cumbersome ATS systems.  I’ve always believed that information is often best from the source when it’s available; so listen to Jerome explain the ease of SmartRecruiters:

There’s a whole lot of awesomeness going on here & it’s my opinion that SmartRecruiters really does have the ability to positively disrupt the status quo belief that ATS systems:

  1. are complicated
  2. are expensive
  3. are time-intensive

If it didn’t do anything more than that; that’d still be more than enough to make me think that Mayfield made a smart decision in backing them.  However, think of the wider-spread implications of their success in converting companies over to their system and freeing them from the burden of their current costly set-up:  Cost-per-hire goes down; time-to-fill shortens… could this allow for more people to get hired?  More importantly, would it force other ATS & SaaS providers to rethink their pricing & product strategies to be more user-friendly??  If so, maybe that could be the ‘history bender’ that Kennedy alluded to in his 1966 speech for our generation… well, at least for the HR/Recruiting Technology Industry.

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8 Comments on “David, Goliath, & Industry Disruption w/ SmartRecruiters”

  1. Jerome Ternynck (@jerometernynck) 01/19/2012 at 9:58 am #

    Crystal, thanks for the kind post. Wow, now we gotta live up to expectations…. 🙂

    • TheOneCrystal 01/19/2012 at 11:15 am #

      I have complete faith that you can, Jerome. #gogetthem

  2. Steve Levy 01/19/2012 at 11:41 am #

    TOC…any ATS can be as simple or as complicated as the customer wants it to be. It all boils down to user experience and UE is not necessarily a function of the interface but of the group that writes the underlying recruiting processes:

    Do people really need to open an account to apply for a job?
    Do people really need to spend 45 minutes on an application with 35 of these minutes trying to figure out navigation?
    Do people really need to answer an inordinate number of gating questions before being allowed to send in their resume?

    Simplify the processes to maximize the user experience and more people will continue to apply rather than saying, “Nah, I’ll go somewhere else where they aren’t wasting my minutes.”

    • TheOneCrystal 01/21/2012 at 10:56 pm #


      I completely agree with your questions… but that’s more about the candidate experience than the ATS, right? Either way, it is completely frustrating for a candidate to have to jump through a bunch of hoops simply to START a process.

  3. Nick Leigh-Morgan (@NickLeighMorgan) 02/08/2012 at 5:28 am #

    If people think that handing out a free ATS is going to somehow reduce unemployment they are sadly mistaken.

    We have high levels of unemployment across the world because there are too many people chasing too few jobs. Simple as that. Yes there are jobs that employers struggle to fill but that’s nothing to do with not having an ATS. They can still send their vacancy to staffing firms. They can still post it to job boards yet they struggle to fill the jobs they have because there isn’t a sufficiently large pool of active job hunters with the correct skillset available at any one time.

    If you want to cure unemployment you need to create more jobs. It’s just that simple, and how exactly will a free ATS do that?

    • TheOneCrystal 02/08/2012 at 6:01 am #

      Nick, that’s an excellent question. In some respects, you’re right – simply handing out an ATS that doesn’t come with a fee isn’t going to reduce unemployment. But the conversation is bigger than that… we’re not talking about just an ATS. We’re talking about shifting the way we look at the costs surrounding the step that comes before hiring people. There can be an enormous cost to simply finding a person – applicant tracking systems alone can cost upwards of 100,000 with all the bells and whistles. Then you have the costs of marketing plan development, job boards, recruiting partners… it’s not cheap. When you add it all up, that alone can be a full-time salary for one- to several people. That’s job creation & if thousands of companies were able to lessen the burden/cost of those things and each came up with $ for a couple of extra jobs – well, now you have significant impact to unemployment.

      Sending the “vacancy” to a staffing firm doesn’t relieve the employer of the burden of tracking applicants. There are laws on how resumes, applications, etc must be handled – and it starts at a relatively low threshold of employees (20, I think, in one state). Also, again, staffing firms are expensive; there are times that they’re needed & since I do provide staffing services to the HR Vendor Community? I appreciate the place of the 3rd-party recruiter. That said, you’re looking at service charges of anywhere from $1500 to $80,000 depending on the position/pay/complexity of the search. It’s expensive; but they get to passive candidates… and often that’s needed.

      The issue with the job board, in my opinion, is not that there’s a lack of qualified potential applicants on them – but that ANYONE, whether they’re qualified or not, can apply. Employers get literally hundreds of applications that have nothing to do with the skill sets listed for the job and it overwhelms them. I’ve (and recruiting counterparts I know have as well) been hired in the past to just go through job board applications. That’s an expensive sorting system. My point is adjustments need to be made there, as well.

      Finally, I want to make something clear: I do not want to “Cure” unemployment. The socioeconomic reasons behind that statement could, and likely should, be it’s own blog post. But there is some need for a small level of unemployment. What I do want to do is participate in this ZeroUE so that we can help Employers put more people to work in the right roles with less of a cost burden to do it.

      • iKrut (@weloveiKrut) 04/02/2012 at 5:09 pm #

        Good answer.

        Well we give away iKrut, a completely free applicant tracking system and don’t claim that it will cure unemployment and neither will we. That said, watch our Twitter feed in q3 this year for a free product we’ll be launching that might…..just might actually help to reduce unemployment.

        We know too many great people both young and old who don’t have a job and we’re developing a product to help them promote themselves to every possible employer.

        Love your site by the way.


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