Hiring Success

Episode 12 – Why Now Is the Time to Embrace the Struggle

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Our guest for Episode 12 is Rebecca Carr, Senior Vice President of Growth & Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters. Rebecca and her team of Hiring Success consultants empower companies to optimize their hiring outcomes through careful assessment and strategic consulting.

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The author Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you can’t know where you’re going.”

This is true for individuals and companies alike. Whether it’s the entire business, or individual functions like sales, marketing, or talent acquisition—the road to improvement is paved with lessons learned. 

Sometimes, learning those lessons is the hardest part—unless, of course, you surround yourself with the right people to help you understand where you’ve come from and to guide you in the right direction going forward. 

Our guest for Episode 12 is Rebecca Carr, Senior Vice President of Growth & Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters. Rebecca and her team of Hiring Success consultants empower companies to optimize their hiring outcomes through careful assessment and strategic consulting.

She joins us to talk about the first step in that process—The Hiring Success Business Assessment—and why it’s actually a rewarding experience to embrace the struggle. 

Episode Transcript

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Hello everyone and welcome to the Hiring Success podcast. Author Maya Angelou once said, if you don’t know where you’ve come from, you can’t know where you’re going. This is true for individuals and companies alike, whether it’s the entire business or individual functions like sales, marketing, or talent acquisition.

The road to improvement is paved with lessons learned. Sometimes learning those lessons is the hardest part, unless of course you surround yourself with the right people to help you understand where you’ve come from and to guide you in the right direction going forward.

Our guest today is Rebecca Carr, Senior Vice President of Growth of Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters, Rebecca and her team of Hiring Success consultants empower companies to optimize their hiring outcomes through careful assessment and strategic consulting. She joins us to talk about the first step in that process, the Hiring Success business assessment, and why it’s actually a rewarding experience to embrace the so-called struggle.

Stay tuned for a special announcement after the interview to find out how you can now tap into the knowledge and expertise of Rebecca and her team for free and from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy.

Mason Mitchel: Rebecca, thank you so much for coming onto the podcast.

Rebecca Carr: Yeah, great to be here.

Mason Mitchel: Let’s start off with the following question. Who are you and what do you do?

Rebecca Carr: Yeah, sure. So, uh, my name’s Rebecca Carr. I am the Senior Vice President of Growth and Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters. And essentially what that means, because obviously Hiring Success is a foreign concept to some people, is we are basically a value in process consulting group within the business that supports our customers on building out strategic programs specific to talent acquisition. Many of us are former talent acquisition professionals ourselves and, um, are helping our customers look at their implementation and use of SmartRecruiters, not just through the technology lens, but how it actually also impacts the people in their organization, the processes, the adoption of that software. Um, and the, I think financial impact because we do a lot of measurement, predictive analytics, that sort of thing.

Mason Mitchel: Awesome. And what did you do prior to leading the Hiring Success team at SmartRecruiters?

Rebecca Carr: I mean like most great startup folks, I’ve spent my life in startups. I wear many hats as I’m sure most people within SmartRecruiters do. Um, I started at the organization building out the success teams, so services and customer success groups within SmartRecruiters and then transferred into the product group where I worked for several years with our product design and engineering team, building out what is today our enterprise platform. Um, my experience, those started many years ago, uh, as a recruiter in HR business partner. So I’ve been both in house and on the agency side, uh, with a focus, financial recruiting and banking. But, um, I had joined a startup at one point in time and also done some like high tech startup recruiting as well. So, uh, very diverse, but, uh, I think actually kind of perfect for what we’re doing here, which is building HR technology across multiple industries.

Mason Mitchel: Yeah. And I think that your experience in these various roles allows you to look at talent acquisition from many different angles and to provide our customers with a 360 degree view of their hiring strategies, wouldn’t you say?

Rebecca Carr: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Now it’s, it’s fun, it’s fun and it’s fun to work with many of the talent acquisition professionals, which we’ve hired into the hiring success team that are really looking to, uh, stretch a different muscle as it relates to talent acquisition. They all come from a space where they’ve been recruiting, recruiting, recruiting, but thinking about talent acquisition as a strategic function within the business and figuring out and supporting our customers on how to build a business case around that, I think is something that they were anxious to do and the reason why they raised their hand and came onto the vendor side, the dark side we call it.

Mason Mitchel: Okay. And to your point of talent acquisition being a strategic function, you really get a sense of just how strategic it is or should be, at least when reading through the definitive guide to hiring success. I know that you are heavily involved in the creation of the methodology that the definitive guide is based on, in particular the hiring success business assessment. Can you run us through the core concepts of the business assessment and tell us why it’s so important?

Rebecca Carr: The business assessment is, um, a survey format that starts in evaluation process for our customers and prospects around where they sit and in our hiring success maturity model and uh, what level of maturity that that is within the larger hiring success methodology. Um, essentially what you would do as a customer is you take this survey, it’s going to ask you many, many, many questions about your business and not just about your technology, but also about the people that you have on your team, the tools that you use, the programs that you have in place. And probably what is oftentimes the most interesting is your sentiment against some of those programs. Do you think that they’re successful? Do you think they’ve failed, why you think they’ve failed, et cetera. Um, we then break up the results and we provide a numerical assessment across 20 different categories of your talent acquisition business that puts you in a bucket that level you within this maturity model. And that maturity model starts at the very bottom, which is very, like this piece of your business is very simple and transactional moves up into a level two, which is, it’s, it’s now focused. Um, you have a lot of templates in place, whether or not that’s being followed consistently. That’s a whole other conversation to level three, which would be the next step, which are you deeply integrated? Are you learning from the data that you’re gathering from this program, this technology, this area of expertise. And then last but not least, level four, are you now at a place where this particular product program is driving predictions and other pieces of your talent acquisition business. And so you end up getting this output that rates you in these categories across people, process and technology as a launching place for us to start a more strategic conversation with you about where you should be investing your time. Because if you took everything that you could ever possibly do in talent acquisition, um, as it relates to, uh, different processes or R or pieces of the process, you would be, it would be like boiling the ocean. Um, it would be unbelievably daunting, overwhelming, and you’d probably do a lot of things only okay. And not really focus your attention on areas that really require a little bit more detail, attention and time. And um, many of our customers, especially in the current environment with Cobin 19 and work from home and a lot of changes that businesses are seeing, they’re actually taking a moment to step back as they’re not doing as much hiring and they’re taking this assessment, evaluating where they are and using and leveraging some of their talent acquisition resources to start unpacking the results and investing time in, uh, improving some of the programs where they’re rated lower than others in their industry or region. So it’s, it’s been, I think, a very productive tool at this exact moment, more so than it even has been in the past.

Mason Mitchel: So you mentioned the four tiers of the maturity model. What exactly is taken into consideration when assessing a company’s TA function using that scale?

Rebecca Carr: Yeah. So, um, it does depend a bit on customer and I should say that this business assessment is, yes, it’s a survey that you take, but there’s a lot of heavy lifting that happens in the background. We’re looking at data across our customers, across even, uh, companies that we are not necessarily affiliated with some data that we’re receiving from analysts and other, um, and other data sources that are, they’re tracking the progress of talent acquisition around the world. We’re evaluating you against sort of the, the speed at which you took the survey, the comments that you, that you added to all of the free text sections. All of this is contributing back to some of the numbers that you see. And um, when we take a look at each of the categories, if you’re a customer specifically, we’re also looking at some of your usage of a platform like smart recruiters. We are um, uh, well, well positioned is a vendor to be able to actually validate, uh, you know, what is your conversion rate of candidates on the front end, do your process and how long our is waiting for responses from your business. And are they responding consistently? All behaviors that would lend themselves to a higher or lower level of maturity. And so for each of these categories you could, I guess you could say you’d break up our evaluation of the data into three different categories. One is technology because that’s the obvious one. We can see how you’re using the product, where you can provide us data on how you’re using the product. For some of our prospects on the front end, they actually have this from their existing applicant tracking system. And so we can evaluate your use of the technology. And if you are using just one technology or many technologies and how are those technologies talking to each other, all of that is going to be a very measurable element of the output. The second category is really around process. Um, it’s great to say that you have an AI product. It’s great to say that you have a background check product. It’s great to say that, um, you have an interview guide that you give your end users, but, uh, is it well implemented? Has it been adopted? Is there, are there programs within your business around this that have led to a very efficient and seamless process? Um, is it being used consistently? Um, how is it a global process is a local process. All of these things are being taken into account. Um, and people tend to, especially when they were love technology, underestimate change management. And so usually the intention is there, the technology is there, but the consistency of the process around it is not. Um, and so there’s a lot of, um, there’s a lot of weight put on that particular pillar of the output. And then the last one is really around people. Um, people, you could have a great process and you could have a great technology, but there are things in, there are things that, and processes within talent acquisition that do require very specific skill. Um, you know, the, the phrase recruiting is marketing has been thrown around for a very long time across a lot of vendors in this space. And that the truth is it is extremely similar to marketing, but marketing is a very different skillset than recruiting to build out deep campaigns that drive conversion of leads and candidates over time does take some thoughts. Um, does take some expertise, uh, does take some planning that a lot of talent acquisition teams don’t have the resource to accommodate. And, uh, again, your sentiment could be very positive. You could have purchased the technology, you could have put the processes in place, but do you have the skills within your existing organization to make it successful? And I think that’s often forgotten about when, when people look at, um, these, these evaluations, um, in other capacities it is, uh, you, you, you can wear a lot of hats, but you can’t wear that many hats. And sometimes it does require you to close those gaps with very specific skills, either from other departments within your business or hiring internally within talent acquisition in order to, uh, accelerate maturity in any one of these areas. And this is most commonly seen, I’d say from CRM and reporting analytics, which are both a little bit of black holes for a lot of organizations.

Mason Mitchel: When you’re trying to facilitate change in a company’s hiring function, where is it the most difficult typically out of people, process and technology? Where is there the most friction?

Rebecca Carr: Oh, that’s a very good question. Um, it does depend on the organization and typically people is the most, creates the most friction because it is the most measurable investment that you make. Um, hiring someone isn’t just about spending the money on their salary, it’s about their onboarding, their development, their career path within your organization for years and years and years. And so usually what we see is people getting creative with how they allocate resources or using other resources internally versus investing in full-blown sourcing teams or recruitment marketing teams. Although the end of the day that is oftentimes the most successful path. Um, I’d say depending on the category process can also create a lot of friction because, uh, as a great example, you start to dig deep into something like interview management. The end user population that is impacted by any change here is significantly larger than if you run a program around, uh, integrations. Usually integrations is gonna have an impact of your HR it team or your it team and your TA business. And it’s a tight group that can make decisions and move quickly. Interview management and you know, how you evaluate your talent and competencies has an impact on HR, business partners, hiring managers, interviewers, executives, and the larger the impacted group, obviously the harder it is to drive real change within the business because you have to be tailoring your message to each of those groups. And that takes some time and thought and testing. Um, and so I, I’d argue that for some areas processes really sort of the sticking point and, um, on, on technology, I think it’s generally very straight forward. Although, um, if you don’t have an existing technology, obviously procuring one is a process in itself. It’s, it though is probably the easiest to go do because you have a clear set of guidelines and so usually you don’t see a lot of friction in this particular item unless maybe there’s friction in budgeting process to get the budget to buy the technology. And that’s very common. Um, it’s just, it’s not as, I guess you could say sort of vague and inconsistent as the others can be depending on your organization.

Mason Mitchel: What’s a customer success story that you’re really proud of?

Rebecca Carr: I think some of the most, I think touch a good say, like the, the, I guess the customer stories that I’m most connected to are really people that started on this journey from us when they were, uh, before they even implemented smart recruiters. So they started their implementation thinking through this lens and investing in specific programs that they knew would drive the most amount of impact. Um, and we’ve had some very large customers that I will be honest, have shocked me in the level of simplicity and consistency they have brought to their process and the impact that that has had around the world. People, you know, in some cases it giving days of time back to some of their talent acquisition team members so they can focus on building relationships with candidates instead of administrative work just by stepping back and an implementation, thinking through what they want from new technology, what they want from their process and having difficult conversations in some respects with people around the world to drive consistency because they knew that doing that would give time back so that they could focus on other programs. And one large account that comes to mind initially really had, I think it was something like 46 different HR systems around the world. They had countless processes. They standardized into one global process with some local nuances for compliance. And in doing so, they actually freed up teams of people that, um, were able to actually invest in CRM. So they had previously not had any people or resources within their business that could start thinking, start thinking through recruitment marketing. And as a result of driving more consistency in their selection process without hiring any new people, they almost created an entirely new department that they could focus on passively nurturing candidates for on skills that they, uh, they had never previously recruited for. And it has really, really helped them, um, find great people. So I guess that’s a good example of one, but there are men, there are countless others, um, some very small adjustments that we’ve made and some much bigger. But, um, if you do end up building relationships with people who are getting very connected to their success and in some of these cases, I, I certainly do feel that.

Mason Mitchel: Rebecca, what’s the first step that a company would need to take to partner with you and your team and start driving the kind of organizational change that you just described?

Rebecca Carr: So the, the first step is usually to take the business assessment and, um, this is something that’s, uh, that you can get through our web portals. We also have hiring success.com, which is a great stream of content that obviously comes not just from us but from our partners and our customers and other people that want to contribute to the success stories that come out of leveraging the methodology. Um, but, uh, if you’re interested, just reach out to smart recruiters, we’re happy to send you an assessment, takes about 20 to 30 minutes and um, we can certainly then jump on a phone, give you the results, explained sort of where we would start. And, uh, if you’re interested in continuing the conversation, we’ve got a team that’s, that started to help.

Mason Mitchel: All right, so before we wrap up for the day, are there any final thoughts that you would like to share with our listeners?

Rebecca Carr: Good luck. And in the best way possible. It’s a, yeah, no, it’s, it is a, it is a journey and I, one of my favorite books of all time and it’s really the fastest read of all time. But the hard thing about hard things, it’s a book by Ben Horowitz that, um, who is, uh, a venture partner now at Andreessen Horowitz. Obviously one of the biggest venture capital firms in the world at this point. Um, it, he wrote a book cause he used to be a startup founder and he talks about embracing the struggle. And I find it to be just the simplest statements go the longest way, embrace the struggle, uh, because the, the outcome is in many ways ha it is so fulfilling. And I really do think that some of these, these journeys that our customers go on can be, you know, they can have their days, but uh, they, the outcome that comes from that level of investment is something that you truly are proud of. And that’s the best part of being a hiring success consultant at smart recruiters. We see the pride that comes from our customers that make it through. And um, and uh, that’s what we’re here to help with. So, uh, embrace the struggle cause it’s, it’s uh, it’s going to get you some good results.

Mason Mitchel: Those are definitely some words to live by. Okay. Rebecca, thank you so much for your time and insight. It was great chatting with you.

Have you been searching for the best way to run your talent function, then look no further than our newly released Hiring Success Master Class. This six hour class is designed and taught by global TA experts and delivers the building blocks for talent acquisition transformation. Once registered, follow the class at your own convenience. You’ll receive one lesson per week via email. Complete the full class to become a hiring success certified expert with each completed lesson. You are also eligible for one SHRM and HRCI credit. For more details, visit hiringsuccess.com/masterclass once again, that’s hiring success.com forward slash masterclass.

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Mason Mitchel

Mason Mitchel is the Editor-in-Chief of Hiring Success.