CEO Interview - Jerome Ternynck/SmartRecruiters

CEO Interview - Katherine Jones sits down with Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters.

My colleague and Vital Analysis West Coast partner, Katherine Jones, recently interviewed serial entrepreneur and recruiting guru, Jerome Ternynck, the CEO of SmartRecruiters.

KJ: You recently sold your UK-based enterprise recruiting solution “MrTed” to StepStone, but retained the SmartRecruiters solution you first told Vital Analysis about at HR Tech 2009 – a mid-market solution that you billed as “free and easy. “ Does that still prevail today?

JT: Although SmartRecruiters really launched as a company this September, we already have 5000 companies using the product today , a number growing by 100 per week.

KJ: And it is still free?

JT: It is still free—and it will remain free. My goal has been to make recruiting effective. I formed the Accord Group of recruiting companies in the Czech Republic in 1992 – which eventually had over 200 people and provided recruiting services over all Central and Eastern Europe. We introduced the first job fairs and the RPO concept in that region.

KJ: And that predated the rise of the Internet in recruiting. How did the Web change your direction?

JT: I sold Accord and formed MrTed in London –MrTed is a multi-tenant, single instance, single code based enterprise solution, which after ten years we sold to StepStone.

KJ: I am sure everybody asks—but why the name “MrTed”?

JT: We wanted a name with a human touch, and one that people would remember. In a focus group investigating the brand, one HR VP said “I would never do business with a company called MrTed.” And ironically he became the first customer – in a 400,000 employee firm.

KJ: How does SmartRecruiters differ from MrTed?

JT: My goal is to build the best, easiest recruiting technology and make it free to the world. Recruiting today is an ineffective market –ineffective for both managers who want to hire and for candidates. I think that is unacceptable, and I think technology – especially social technology – can solve the problem. Think about it: Hiring someone is the most social interaction we can have outside of getting married. It is the one thing that everyone does – applies for a job.

KJ: 5000 clients – [companies, not individual users] is impressive for a company that is really only 2 months old.

JT: I aim for 5 million clients…

KJ: I have seen literary hundreds of applicant tracking/recruiting/hiring management products over the last decade or so. SmartRecruiters is striking in both its intuitive ease of use, and its clean, uncluttered interface. It includes links to all the predominant job boards—and interestingly—to all the major social media sites. Recruiters can see exactly what charges prevail (with exactly the same costs they would pay on the job board site).

JT: The product includes all the reports, resume parsing, security by role (administrator, recruiter, hiring manager and candidate) that is expected today. We provide the tools to easily build a career site through which candidates can apply, with support for company-specific branding. It can be integrated with the company’s web site and blogs or standalone. But as you mentioned—the tie in with social media is important to our customers.

KJ: What trends to you see with social media in the hiring management arena?

JT: We link with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is very popular today – both for recruiters posting positions and looking for top candidates, for free postings as status updates, and of course by candidates looking for new positions. And social profiles will replace resumes. In the future, auto-update may totally replace the concept of in-house talent pools—which become stagnant and are generally never used again anyway.

KJ: Your goals for SmartRecruiters is ambitious…

JT: The quest for perfection in software is never-ending. I want to lower the bar to entry for both recruiters and candidates.

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