Why I Started an HR Tech Company

A lot of people ask me…why did you start an HR Tech company? I get asked because my background is in Marketing Technology; I’ve founded and grown two martech companies (Acoustic and Maxymiser), and I have worked for some of the world's largest tech giants (IBM and Oracle).  

On the surface, HR and Talent Acquisition (TA) may seem to have little in common with Marketing, however, after hearing from hundreds of HR leaders, there’s more similarities than you may think. Marketing cares about turning good leads into customers while HR cares about turning good candidates into employees.

Starting companies is hard work but incredibly fulfilling. I’ve always enjoyed solving big problems, and over the last 20 years, I've seen my fair share of problems! Through the years, there’s always been one constant in this regard: recruiting the right talent and building great teams is the biggest, most important area for companies and their long-term success. 

It’s taken major global events (COVID, BLM, etc.), but it finally feels like businesses are ready to invest in caring more about their people and building great teams. As a result, HR/TA teams, which are often underappreciated, are getting the attention and resources they need and deserve. Because of this, I’m genuinely excited about what we’ve built here at Pillar and the impact we’re making on hiring teams.

Lessons Learned While Hiring 1,000+ People

Building great teams is HARD work. Honestly though, anything worth doing takes hard work, and looking back on the last few decades of my career, the most satisfying periods always come out of solving hard problems and dealing with hard situations. 

Here’s what I’ve learned: 

  • Hiring is a real skill and not enough people get the attention and  training they deserve to be experts early enough. In my first two years as a people leader, my success rate in hiring great salespeople was about 50%. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a 50:50 success rate is only as good as leaving it to chance. 
  • When I compare how I was interviewing two decades ago and what's happening now, the process hasn’t changed that much. Yes, I’m older and wiser and probably know better questions to ask now, but the fundamentals of how we establish a person's fit for the role hasn’t changed significantly for a very long time. 
  • Other areas of the business have a lot of tools and technologies to help them do their jobs. HR/TA teams really only have the bare bones basics to help them do theirs…record keeping tools (ATS’s) and advertising. Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, and other areas of the business couldn’t survive and compete with this type of bare bones infrastructure, so why are people teams left to?  

Pillar’s Vision for the Future

We started Pillar just over two years ago, and when I think about the lessons I’ve learned, I also think about what we want to achieve as a company and how we’re truly going to help. There’s three things that come to mind when I think about our vision for the future…

1.) Advocating for TA/HR to get a seat at the C-Suite table as they are strategically the most important area of the company. This ties into what Pillar stands for. The name Pillar personifies how people are as essential to an organization as pillars are to a building, providing critical support and raising it to new heights. Without TA/HR, organizations won’t grow successfully.

2.) Continuing to prove that hiring and interviewing doesn’t have to be hard. Through our partnerships with current customers, we’ve seen how efficient and effective interviewing can be, and we look forward to bringing that to more and more organizations.

3.) Growing as a true partner to our customers. Our goal is to be a trusted partner and push the boundaries on what it means to provide real value, not to just be another ‘vendor’. We aim to make the lives of our users a little easier while having  a real effect on the metrics TA/HR teams are looking to improve. Whether that’s increasing quality of hire, lowering first-year turnover, cutting time to hire, increasing the number of diverse hires, or any other areas they’re focused on.

I’m already looking forward to coming back in a year and writing about the progress we’ve made against our vision. If you’d like to share any lessons you’ve learned while hiring or if I can offer any advice on your hiring/interviewing process, reach out to me on LI.

-Mark Simpson

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