A Chat with Robert Symons, SVP at Talent Acquisition Software: SmartRecruiters

Robert Symons

Talent acquisition is so hard to get right. Over 82% of Fortune 500 companies don’t believe they recruit highly talented people, while more than a quarter of new employees quit within the first six months on the job. Not only is it hard to find good people, but it’s also hard to find the right people, for the right company. SmartRecruiters was created to solve these inefficiencies in recruitment and bridge the gap between top talent, and their ideal organisation.

At its core, SmartRecruiters is a technology company that helps organisations find, interview, and ultimately hire the best talent. We’ve found that hiring brilliant, talented people is what defines a company. It is the greatest predictor of success.

Therefore, we’ve built a platform that creates a compelling and human candidate experience, facilitates meaningful hiring team engagement, and allows Talent Acquisition teams to properly articulate their impact on the business. We work with over 4,000 companies worldwide including brands like Bosch, LinkedIn, Skechers, and Visa.
SmartRecruiters Solidifies Enterprise Position with 100% YoY Growth |  Business Wire

What is the history of the company and how did it evolve to where it is today?

Like many start-up beginnings, SmartRecruiters began in a rented garage to solve a problem: transform applicant tracking systems from glorified digital filing cabinets into a talent acquisition suite that helps companies attract and hire great people. Our Founder and CEO, Jerome Ternynck, set out to redefine the next-gen TA suite that would transform recruiting from a back-office cost centre to a strategic business partner.

Jerome’s been quoted on many occasions that he wants to “make hiring so easy that his grandmother could do it.” Jerome is passionate about technology fixing recruiting. So, for the first four years that SmartRecruiters was around there was an emphasis on putting real research and development behind the solution to listen to the needs of the market, innovate and craft the technology to overcome obstacles. The result is a robust product with an integrated marketplace to make hiring easy.

Our first decade has been full of product innovation and customer success with no signs of slowing down. Our comprehensive product suite now hosts all recruiting capabilities in one platform from attracting, selecting, and hiring to onboarding and beyond. We are the only recruiting platform with native AI to discover and surface candidates which our customers love. We also have a consumer-class user experience that ensures simple collaboration between talent, and talent acquisition teams.

The development we’ve seen in the past five years that I’ve been here has been incredible. In the past year alone, we’ve added 200 enterprise customers to our roster, experienced 50% year-over-year global growth, and celebrated a top leader ranking in the IDC MarketScape for modern talent acquisition suites. 2020 was also when we celebrated 10 years of hiring success and surpassed the 10 million mark for jobs created.


How has the company changed as a result of the pandemic?

The shift to remote working, and thus remote recruitment, has driven significant demand for our services. COVID accelerated the digitalisation of recruiting and companies were forced to be bolder in their digital transformation efforts. Companies still needed to fill roles, and many had to do so with a smaller team, less budget, all whilst ensuring security and compliance. Our software suite is quick to integrate and easy to use, all built on a secure data platform.

Global enterprises in a variety of industries including retail, government, health care, manufacturing, and tech partnered with SmartRecruiters to elevate their hiring technology and processes. We helped connect 24 million candidates to 300,000 jobs in 2020 alone. The continued focus on delivering Hiring Success for customers resulted in 91% gross retention helping companies hire more effectively during the pandemic. Even with organizations that decided to pause recruiting activities, being able to easily get in touch with potential candidates and keeping their talent pool alive during the pandemic was key to be able to rebound, helping to maintain or raise their employer brand.

In our 2020 annual customer survey results, 9 out of 10 recruiters said SmartRecruiters aided them in accomplishing more despite smaller budgets and fewer resources.

As a company, we decided to go completely remote. The past year proved it’s not only possible but, in many cases, optimal. Following the pivot to a fully remote workforce, we had the best results in our company history. It became clear the ability to “work from anywhere” was the best policy for our employees and the planet. Working optimally from anywhere is a core part of our DNA for employees, our hiring strategy, and product innovations for our customers.

Since offices are no longer a requirement for our employees, it means talent is no longer limited to office locations. Therefore, we plan to hire for remote positions around the world, which allows unrestricted access to talent. The wider talent pools open unprecedented access to underrepresented communities not traditionally found in major city centres which in turn will help us meet our objective to increase our diversity and inclusion and become an anti-racist force in the recruiting market.

What can we hope to see from SmartRecruiters in the future?

The global shift to remote and hybrid work shows no signs of slowing down which still leaves a high need for collaborative and flexible tools to hire among dispersed teams, so we’re continually investing in R&D to bring new solutions to our comprehensive platform to drive success in remote hiring.

We’ve also committed to fighting discrimination in recruiting and celebrating all dimensions of diversity. We recently welcomed Chief Diversity Officer, Rocki Howard, to lead the charge and help SmartRecruiters become a catalyst for change for customers and the recruiting industry. As a first step of the process, SmartRecruiters launched the Diversity Hiring toolkit to help companies achieve true diversity outcomes. We are also working on releasing an updated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) plan.

Ultimately, SmartRecruiters’ mission to connect people to jobs is stronger than ever for 2021 and beyond. To drive even more impact, we plan to grow the team by 30% and to continue innovating for a full end-to-end TA Suite. We sit as an example of, ‘you are who you hire.’ When you have a strong, dedicated team committed to your mission – success is inevitable and there is no limit to what can be achieved.