The founder of 1M/1M talks to the CEO of TalentCircles about her product, trends in recruiting-related tech and her experiences as a female serial entrepreneur. By Sramana Mitra (Founder, One Million by One Million)
"We are now entering a new relationship-based hiring era," says Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, co-founder and CEO of TalentCircles. "Building relationships is in the DNA of recruiters. Our goal is to allow recruiters to scale their relationship-building ability."
Marylene founded TalentCircles, a cloud-based platform that allows companies and recruiters to build, brand, own, and manage their own live talent networks, 18 months ago after taking a look at a defunct virtual career fair solution startup. Although the startup was based on a good idea, Marylene saw a hole between sourcing and attraction tools on one side, and applicant tracking systems on the other. Filling that hole meant giving recruiters the ability to retain candidates, engage with them, and create live pipelines of active and passive candidates.
Whither Recruiting Tech?
Marylene is no amateur when it comes to spotting industry trends and although the adoption of new products in the HR space tends to be slow, she has identified how companies are currently redirecting their talent acquisition investments.
“Companies are now spending less on job boards and more on improving the productivity of their recruiters, sharpening their employer branding strategy, and building up their pools of passive candidates,” she says.
“Right now, companies spend a fortune attracting candidates to their career sites. Then, about nine out of ten candidates that arrive at your site leave without submitting an application form,” reveals Marylene. “Instead of constantly marketing open positions to the outside world, recruiters can search and evaluate candidates that have already opted into their talent pipelines, which in turn drastically reduces sourcing costs for businesses.”
Not Her First Rodeo
Marylene's acumen at spotting these emerging trends comes from her long experience in startups. She has been an entrepreneur for many years, and reflects back on the early days. “I had to pack my daughter in my suit case,” she laughs. She can also attest to the struggles women must overcome in the startup world.
The last 40 years have brought female empowerment in many areas, including in the world of business, at least theoretically. Yes, we are now better represented, particularly considering the demographic shift in higher education in which the male/female ratio on campuses today favors females, yet, “sadly, women still encounter sexism, especially from the old guard,” Marylene affirms.
This is especially evident when female entrepreneurs look to raise money for their startups. Marylene says: "Venture Capital firms tend to reproduce old patterns, often influenced by their LPs who feel more comfortable investing in what they know." Another challenge is the tendency of young women to allow themselves to be intimidated by the struggles of an older generation of women. She agrees with and quotes Gloria Feldt’s book, No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power:
“The most confounding problem facing women today is not that doors aren’t open, but that women aren’t walking through the open doors in numbers.”
Women Rule HR. Is That a Problem?
The establishment of a human resources specific startup like TalentCircles, by a woman, may seen appropriate to many people. After all, it's no secret that HR has been, somewhat stereotypically, one of the very few female-dominated sectors of business.
Why is this the case? Theories abound. "It may have to do with the fact that women tend to be good at building relationships. It may also be that HR has attracted more women in corporations because other departments were closed to them," Marylene suggests reasonably.
While the former reason is a desirable quality one looks for in an employee, especially in a potential HR employee, the latter is a sad, and, unfortunately, very real possibility. In fact, some people see this female dominance and believe there should be more of a gender balance within the HR division.
To this Marylene retorts, “There could certainly be a better gender balance. [But] if we want an HR field that mirrors the population [it serves], corporations will have to ensure that at least 50% of employees are women and stop the under representation of women in senior positions.”
But harping on how things “should” be isn’t a productive mentality for young female entrepreneurs, or for any entrepreneur for that matter, she feels. The cards are always stacked against you, no matter what gender you are. Instead focus on developing a strong product, find customers who want your product, and the rest will sort itself out.
"A players tend to be gender agnostic, and what matters to them and to me is what we accomplish,” affirms Marylene.
Women 2.0 readers: Do you agree with Marylene that "A players tend to be gender agnostic"?
About the guest blogger: Sramana Mitra is the founder of One Million by One Million (1M/1M), a global virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Photo credit: Dice.com via Flickr.