S4 E85 | eXpert Tease: Jerome Ternynck discusses leaning into purpose

Smart Recruiter's JeromeTernynck talks about the importance of leaning into purpose

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:19
Welcome to CareerXroads, podcast and a special recurring segment we like to call eXpertease. I’m Chris Hoyt President of CXR, and I’ll be your cruise director for this quick 15 minutes or so where we chat with industry leaders and personalities asking them to share one victory, one defeat turning point or a career life lesson with you, our faithful subscribers, so anyone can attend the live sessions, or can subscribe to the video and Podcast Series anywhere you listen to podcasts, or simply go to CXR.works/podcast. Now, if you’re here live, you can jump into the chat and ask whatever you like of our guests. And if we have time, we’ll try to get to that question. If we do run out of time, we’ll drop the queues over in our open and public forum founded CXR.works/talenttalks. Now, just a note before we begin the focus of each of these and I think we’ve done about 25 now comes from our 2021 priority survey that is found in the research and report section of CXR.works. Now in that survey, we have found responses from hundreds of talent leaders who tell us what is top of mind for them with regards to where energy and education of their teams should be focused. Now, this range is anywhere from DE&I, to employee wellness to ethics in recruiting. So if you haven’t already, head over and drop in your thoughts before we close the survey out next week. And we’ll use your responses to determine who our next 25 are. So speaking of guests, let me finally introduce today’s leader and personality founder and CEO of Smart Recruiters Jerome Ternynck, Jerome welcome to our humble show.

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 1:51
Well, thank you, Chris. I’m really happy to be here. And I think being on a show with the both of you, at the same time feel like the pinnacle of my career in HR. So thank you for having me.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:04
That’s That’s a lovely thing to say. Thank you. Look, before we jump into your topic, can you share with us a little bit about who you are and a little bit about your industry, your history of creating smart recruiters because honestly, I still think I have a long sleeve white shirt that you handed out way long ago, and I think was an era conference when you announced that you what you were doing and what your mission was. So can you can you kind of give us a little bit of background on what’s going on?

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 2:34
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m an entrepreneur at heart. And I sit somewhere between technology and recruiting forever. So I, I’ve always been looking at recruiting as in, in fact, a matching problem of how we bring people and jobs together. And I do the I was the recruiter for a bunch of years recruitment agency. And then I did a first generation ATS, which you know, tracking applicants, right. And then after that, I was like, okay, no ATS is they don’t solve the problem. Like they This is not about tracking applicants. So I found that Smart Recruiters in 2010, here in San Francisco, and my mission was zero unemployment. I just you know, as every technology entrepreneur, I have a big reality distortion, which is like, Where’s the problem, you just find your person find the job and match them, like, let’s get it done. And, and this is how we started smartrecruiters. And to this day, we are we are on a strong mission or purpose to connect people to jobs. We have about 1000 enterprises using our talent acquisition suite, large organization like Bosch visa, IKEA LinkedIn actually uses us now globally. And we really are the generational successor to the ATS to help companies hire the talent they have. But I think that that sense of purpose they keep internally how we measure it is as remain there. And so I’m glad you remember the T shirt and it’s zero unemployment.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:07
I did well and I just I remember being floored but the entire concept of sort of what you’re putting together but but what really struck me was and anybody who’s probably ever spent any time really talking to you a little bit about what you do in a space, it’s the heart and and how you seem to do everything, just leaning all the way in towards that purpose. And I think one of the things we sort of we sort of presented this segment to talk to you is about the idea of leaning into purpose. So yeah, so let me ask you what is the leaning into purpose mean to you Jerome?

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 4:42
Purpose is the WHY it’s like why you are here. And when everything else falls apart around you, then your why, your personal way your company wide, takes over and if you have no why then you’re just fall apart with the rest of it. We have a strong purpose, you know why you’re here, then then the rest kind of stays where it needs to be you adapt the conditions change, but you end up making the right decisions for the right reasons because you stay true to your why. And 2020, obviously was a year where, you know, oh, let’s change the rules of the game. Let’s actually change everything, and then see what happens to companies. And when you’re like, Okay, what happens here? And at that moment in time, the why really resonates for, at least for me resonated for those for our customers?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 5:37
Yeah, well, and just changing the game a little bit. I mean, in a lot of cases, the board was thrown out. But the pieces were changed. I mean, there were a lot of shifts, a lot of companies suffered. But you’ve done a pretty from what I understand, you’ve done a pretty phenomenal job of, of not just sustainability, but growth as an organization with your people. And when you talk to anybody who’s at Smart Recruiters, or even talk to anybody who’s actually worked with you, they seem to all sort of be fired up about the Why is there? Is there a secret to sort of what why is Jerome so contagious? Like what what is it that you know, what draws people to you, and that that magical sort of sense of purpose?

You’re going to make me blush here. You know, I, I think for me, that that, that guiding light, and assembling people around the why is it’s been something I discovered maybe later in my career. You know, as an entrepreneur, my wife was making money for a long time. And then my wife was being successful. And actually Smart Recruiters is my third company. And not that I want to date myself. But I kind of found my calling here. I’ve been lucky or blessed, or whatever successful in the past, so I’m not kind of financially motivated. I don’t need to be on cover magazine or fortune. So I’m not kind of fame motivated, or power motivated I’m really motivated by Can I actually solve this problem? And a, when I started Smart Recruiters, my daughter Emily, who was eight at the time, when I came back, every every evening, I’d come back home after a day of work, and she would always ask me the same question to see if I had a good day. And she would say, “So Dad, how many jobs have you created today?”


Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 7:25
And we had a little online dashboard with the activity of the day on all Smart Recruiters. And we’ll be like, Oh, 922 new jobs today. That’s a good job, right? And in her in her eyes, as a child, this is what her dad does. And this like, if a child can understand your why then you’ve got a good why. Mine is pretty straightforward.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:45
I love that keeping it simple, right, with purpose.

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 7:50
But then when you when the I was gonna say hmmm hits the fan, your why then becomes a guiding light to protect or in in in April last year, when COVID hit and, you know, it’s like, well, you’re selling recruiting software, you know, you’re selling recruiting software, and nobody’s hiring, all of your customers are being furloughed or let go. Like, the world is falling apart, my board is coming to me is like Jerome, what are you doing about this, and then I see announcements, like every single recruiting software company cut between 15 and 45% of their staff, right, and I’m like, okay, what’s happening here, and, and I remember I stood in front of all of Smartsians, and I sorry, this is a defining moment for us. And we are going to write this together. And we will not furlough or let go any one, like not one person will go. But these are the numbers we need to achieve. This is how we need to unite behind our customers. This is what we’re gonna do. And from now on, I’m going to come back every month, and I’m going to report to you on your on those numbers, right, and to make sure that we are on track and we keep the company as well that we protect our customers, our community and our company. And as a result, we ended up at 130% of that plan that we had and not furloughing anybody we were in like a hiring freeze ish for two quarters. And then we started hire again, we had a really good year. And this is really because we I think it’s because we really leaned in for our customers like we started to unite our customer community and and we really were an agent of positive change and positive sourcing. Okay, yeah, this is really hard right now, but it’s also an opportunity. And when you drive that energy in the market, then people want to be with you.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 9:44
Yeah, Yeah, I would agree. I think what’s been really impressive, just in the last year and a half or so before the lockdown started before the massive attention had been put on social injustice. Smart Recruiters was already already doing some pretty innovative things with regards to DE&I, or different types of hiring people with different abilities. And you were doing it at events and you were doing these surprises, you know, I don’t want to give anything away, you can share the story you want. But you had some surprise walkouts, to help people find jobs and some really interesting, and then you’ve hired a chief diversity officer, roughly about six, seven months ago, and you’ve really been shaking things up internally. So you really are walking the talk before everybody sort of said, hey, we’ve got to do something about this in the space. Is there, Is there anything you’d tell a leader, we’ve got a minute or two left. Is there anything you tell him leader who wants to incorporate that type of impact or inspire their folks, what they should be mindful of like, just just one big takeaway for them to say, if you want to make change, this is in the right direction? What’s one thing they should be mindful of?

Okay, the one thing they should be mined for is talent is everyone. People used to talk about that we have talent management, we look after the top 10% of our company, and I was in a meeting one day where there’s like, 10 of them. And they explained their strategy. And I look at them and I’m thinking which one is the talent in the room? Right? Because it’s just 10%, right? A talent is a human being that is in the right job. Anybody can be an amazing talent, they just the right person in the right job at the right time. And that’s I’m a firm believer of that. And that when you open that door, then it opens so much opportunities for underrepresented groups, underprivileged groups, people that need a second chance people that have been discriminated against, and those people internally and just make that talent market more fluid, more transparent. Let people step up to opportunities, don’t put too many roles, and give people a chance. And you’ll be better off with a more diverse organization, a more inclusive organization, and ultimately with people who performing in their job at levels that you haven’t experienced before.

Oh, I love that. And I love it. I’m sensing that theme of just keeping it to your truth and keeping it simple. And I just love that.

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 12:08

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:08
Jerome, thank you. Thank you so much for your time.

Jerome Ternynck, Smart Recruiters 12:10
Thank you for having me.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:12
So Alright, passengers. This is your cruise director, again, inviting you back on April 20. We’ll connect with Jay Denton, who is the senior VP of business intelligence at Think Why now, with everything that’s happened to our talent pools and candidate pipelines during the pandemic, he’s got a perspective on current talent supply and demand trends that you won’t want to miss rumor also has it he’s going to share one key thing that every team leader should know to be successful as we go forward towards whatever our new normals are. So feed the pets in advance and give us your full attention when you join us on the 20th to chat with Jay for quick 15 and until then, we’ll look for you online at CXR.works/talent talks.

Announcer 12:50
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