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“If you want to be great at Customer Service in our industry, you first need to be great at Software-as-a-Service.”

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iCIMS, a leading provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) talent acquisition solutions, is an Inc. 500 and Software Satisfaction honoree focused on solving corporate business issues through the implementation of easy-to-use, scalable solutions that are backed by award-winning customer service.

iCIMS’ Talent Platform, the industry’s premier candidate management solution, enables organizations to manage their entire talent acquisition lifecycle from sourcing, to recruiting, to onboarding all within a single web-based application. With more than 1,300 clients worldwide, iCIMS is one of the largest and fastest-growing talent acquisition system providers with offices in North America, the UK and China.

MO: What are some examples of how you help take the hassle out of corporate HR processes?

Colin: At the most basic level, we take the paperwork out of HR completely, essentially storing it all in an online (cloud) filing cabinet. Beyond that, we make sure that all of the data in the platform is available, easily searchable, and reportable so that absolutely nothing gets lost in the process. Even further, we focus on automating as much of the day as possible for both the internal users (recruiters and hiring managers) as well as for the candidate researching and applying for jobs, maximizing efficiencies wherever possible. Last, but certainly not least, we help ensure that organizations remain compliant when it comes to Equal Employment and other government regulations.

MO: Despite your competitors getting bigger, how do you still find a ways to keep winning business (even from loyal ADP/Oracle/SAP customers) every day?

Colin: It’s quite a simple equation, actually. Their advantage is that they can “offer it all”; Soup to nuts. Our advantage is that the Talent Acquisition marketplace is innovating at an absolutely crazy rate. As we speak, social networks are changing how people advertise jobs, more applicants than ever are applying with their social profile rather than a traditional resume, and companies are looking to do more video interviewing than onsite interviewing. It’s no surprise that larger organizations have more difficulty innovating at the pace sometimes dictated by the marketplace. We understand it’s our MO to out-innovate our bigger competitors. The second clear area of differentiation is customer service. At the end of the day, we offer Software-as-a-Service … not just Software. People lease our wares and, if they aren’t happy with the service behind the scenes, they have the ability to walk. We entered the market to do one thing better than anyone else and that was to provide an unparalleled customer service experience. If you want to be great at Customer Service in our industry, you first need to be great at Software-as-a-Service. We think that’s our final advantage. Our larger competitors have customized codes, partitioned customers onto different releases, and spread their energy between SaaS and locally installed software. All of those elements are distractions from Software-as-a-Service, leading to inevitable deviations from great customer service.

MO: How is Social Media revolutionizing how companies recruit?

Colin: Social Media has had an absolutely awesome effect on the recruiting industry and different companies are in differing stages of adopting new, social strategies. I think those that adopt the strategies faster will win the war for talent in the short term. First, social media has changed how companies can advertise their jobs. Traditionally, a company would post a job on their website and then choose a myriad of job boards (local and targeted) to attract candidates to that job posting. With our new Social Distribution offering, companies are now able to advertise their jobs socially … and virally. This means getting both the company and all of its employees to spread the word about open jobs through their social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.). Employee Referrals are the Holy Grail in recruiting, and social media brings corporations a huge step closer to this important source by allowing employees to share their employer’s job postings to their personal social networks. The second major impact is at the point of application for a candidate. There is not a job applicant out there who won’t tell you how frustrating it is to apply through dozens of different companies and applicant tracking technologies. Each time, they have to prep a resume, attach it, fill out paperwork, etc. With our new Social Apply functionality, users can literally use their existing social profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+) to apply for a job, completely removing the resume upload and field entry process. This saves an incredible amount of time on the candidate side, but also ensures the company has the latest and greatest information on their side. It’s truly a win-win.

MO: What’s Employment Branding and why is it important?

Colin: Employment Branding, at its core, is the perception you are setting for someone who is either interested in applying for your company or actively in the process of applying. Despite the very high unemployment rate today, companies are more than ever saying that it is harder and harder to find the right talent that they need. This makes it increasingly important to use the right tools and strategies to attract great talent. Employment Branding is part of this strategy. Most people think of sourcing as the act of attracting talent to your organization, and employ Talent CRM systems, Career Fairs, advertising and more to do this. What many organizations don’t contemplate is how many people will drop out of the process if they are not impressed with the company’s employment brand. This could be as simple as your website and career site (is it pretty? easy to use? Social? etc.) and goes as far as monitoring activity on sites like LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Facebook and more. Corporations need to be very aware of what people are saying about their company these days, as most impressions are formed by word of mouth rather than advertising spend. Word of Mouth, however, can be controlled with a really strong Employment Branding Strategy. The use of Video is increasingly becoming a powerful tool in Employment Branding, as it personalizes Employment Branding to a whole new level.

MO: Can you share with our readers how you celebrated when you reached the milestone of 1,000 customers and why you felt it was so important to share the success with your entire team?

Colin: That was an amazing day. We called a company-wide meeting that morning. Everyone was definitely aware that we had hit the milestone and we had a huge “1,000 Customer” cake at the ready. What people didn’t expect was the Executive team calling up every single employee … one by one … to shake hands with the Executive team, get a piece of cake … and be handed a $1,000 bonus. There were 160+ employees at the time, so it took quite a while to get through everyone, but it really gave a sense that this was an individual milestone for everyone and not just a company milestone. To this day, people talk about that internally and I have already had a few people ask me if there will be a $2K bonus when we hit 2,000 customers. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it …

MO: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use the product. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?

Colin: We had an extreme pivotal moment this year. Over the last 5 years, there has been enormous consolidation in the Human Capital Software Marketplace. Companies were either building out their solution sets or buying their competitors in what appeared to be a heated race to provide end-to-end Human Capital Management solutions (what we amicably call “Hire-to-Fire” or “Hire-to-Retire”). This was capped off in the last year with the acquisitions of Taleo by Oracle, SuccessFactors by SAP, and Kenexa by IBM. At the same time that we were building out new post-hire solutions, we noticed that social and mobile innovations were revolutionizing areas in talent acquisition and completely re-inventing the category, allowing newer competitors to crop up in our original wheelhouse. There were a huge amount of internal meetings about what would be the better strategy: Continue down the path of building it “all”, perhaps ultimately ending up mediocre in all categories … or re-focus all of our corporate resources on Talent Acquisition and the social/mobile/video revolutions going on, emerging as THE leading, next-generation Talent Acquisition vendor. We ultimately landed on the re-focus strategy, despite it being contrarian to what all of our competitors were doing. This decision took a huge amount of employee communications to ensure that everyone was behind this decision, and we ultimately feel like it was the right decision for us and our customers, and has played out quite well for iCIMS. My advice is quite simple: Don’t be afraid to make the big decision, but don’t underestimate the amount of effort needed to over-communicate the thinking behind it.

MO: What are some of the environmentally friendly and eco conscious incentives and programs that you’ve implemented? How has this commitment to the environment helped shape your corporate culture and shared vision for the future?

Colin: We chose the environment as our cause early on as it has always been something I’ve been quite passionate about. The components have blossomed quite a bit since its inception in 2006, but the focus on the environment has never wavered. To begin, we plant 25 trees every time we hire a new employee, and we do it in their honor as we believe it sets the right stage for the new hire. At a corporate level, we have done studies on how much energy we burn both at our corporate location and our datacenters, and we annually purchase renewable (clean) energy certificates to offset any carbon emissions. Beyond that, we have chosen local environmental charities and causes that employees can donate to, and match their donations each year. We also try to get the company out at least 3 or 4 times a year to do park and beach clean ups. Finally, we make a concerted effort to provide discounts to companies in the clean energy industry. There is certainly no silver bullet … but channeling all efforts through one campaign/cause has proven to be very effective for us.


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