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Art Papas on Bullhorn Reach launch

After picking up 10,000 recruiters in four months of open beta, Bullhorn, Inc. is making Bullhorn Reach Personal Edition available for free. Bullhorn Reach is a social recruiting platform that makes it easy for recruiters to filter social media data to find relevant candidates. BullhornReach.com is currently drawing more than 300,000 candidates each month so we asked CEO Art Papas to tell us more about it.

What inspired you to launch this product/service? How does it fit into your career and what does it mean to you personally?

I’m a technologist at heart. In 2001, we brought SaaS to the recruitment industry before it was called software as a service. And, when we saw the social media trend and its impact on recruitment, we knew we had a huge opportunity. Personally, it’s given me a chance to do the thing I love most, which is to create new technology that delights customers.

Jobs are one of the most important things in people’s lives, after health and family. If we can improve the way companies and employees come together, we solve a big problem. Jobs are so intertwined with people’s psyches and self-confidence. I’ve seen firsthand how powerful it can be when companies and employees have that magic connection. And, I think everyone on the planet should be able to experience it.

What does it do for job seekers/recruiters that’s new?

Bullhorn Reach does a number of things that help recruiters and job seekers connect. We make it easier for recruiters and job seekers to come together, whether by social media or search.

One of the truly unique things that we do centers on a patent-pending technology we call “Radar,” which helps recruiters cut down on time and energy spent doing research into their connections. Radar looks at your connections’ behavioral patterns via social media, and calls out valuable information for recruiters, like whether any of them may be looking for a job.

Another unique thing that we do is crowdsource articles from Bullhorn Reach users, and suggest that they, in turn, share these articles with their networks. One of the biggest problems with social recruiting is that recruiters aren’t keeping their connections engaged. We try to encourage recruiters to keep their connections engaged by sharing relevant content, while simultaneously marketing their open jobs with their personalized Bullhorn Reach bar that accompanies each link that they share.

A lot of recruiting tools focus just on broadcasting jobs. With Bullhorn Reach, we try to help recruiters actually be “social” through social media.

What can you promise that no one else can?

Innovation. Continuous, unrelenting innovation. I’m never satisfied. As soon as we ship out our software, I feel as though we can do better. We come up with a good idea, and while it’s being implemented, we come up with another new idea. At Bullhorn, we’re constantly thinking of new ways to do things and constantly challenging the way things are done.

I believe the reason people use Bullhorn’s technology is that we come up with innovations that make their jobs’ duties effortless. If we do our job right, it feels like the technology isn’t even there. Take, for example, Radar. As social media have grown in importance, one of the primary duties of a social recruiter is to keep tabs on what’s going on in their network. Before Radar, this required sifting through what are often thousands of connections to find relevant nuggets of information. Radar takes the heavy lifting out of doing that kind of research, and hones in only on what’s most important.

When did you launch the business and why?

We launched Bullhorn in 1999 because I had an experience at a start-up, and I loved being on a small team. But, I wasn’t a fit for that culture, and I wanted to pursue my own vision. I was 24-years-old at the time, and I was watching Monster revolutionize the newspaper want-ad industry. And, the experience of searching for a job myself led me to engage with a lot of recruiters. As a result, I became intrigued with the entire industry. I realized that there was a tremendous opportunity at the intersection of technology, the Internet and recruiting.

Will you give us a measure of your success in numbers? Monthly unique visitors, annual revenue, number of employees?

Bullhorn will bring in well over $30m in revenue this year, and we’re growing incredibly quickly every year. At the moment, over 35,000 recruiters use our platform every day between Bullhorn and Bullhorn Reach.

What are your goals for the company?

We aim to build products and technology that people love—whether they are recruiters, hiring managers or job seekers. We want to improve the way employers and employees come together. Jobs are one of the most important things in people’s lives. If we can make it easier for great people to connect with great jobs, we’re making the world a better place. Lastly, we want to leverage our success to give back to the community. This is important to me personally and an integral part of the Bullhorn culture.

If you’ve been in business for a while, why do you think you succeeded when so many others failed early or failed during the last couple years of recession?

Bullhorn has always been really successful, but we make mistakes just like everyone else. I think a key to our success has been that we recognize failure quickly, learn from it, dust ourselves off and quickly get back up. If you’re willing to keep after a goal, chances are that you’ll eventually achieve it.

What questions do you ask yourself that help guide your choices about directions to pursue or avoid in business?

I like to ask, “Do we have the right to win in this game?” It’s important to know if you have the ability to win before entering a competition. “Can we be the best? Can we beat the other players?” These are questions I ask myself all the time. Deciding not to enter a game you can’t win is just as important as choosing to enter one you can.

Who do you consider to be your competitors? mentors?

The list of competitors changes all the time. Usually, it’s anyone who’s trying to keep up as we innovate. But, sometimes we enter a market late and have to make up for it with innovation. In the recruitment CRM market, we compete with big players like Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM, as well as smaller, industry specific players. In the social recruiting market, we compete with some of the niche players, but also with internal IT departments.

As for mentors, I personally have a wide network of folks that I rely upon all the time for advice: investors, advisors, and friends. There are too many to list. They’ve helped me solve countless problems and given me incredible advice. I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by so many thoughtful and experienced individuals.

What do you hate about the online recruiting industry?

Hate’s a strong word. But, I will say that I think job boards have created an incredibly inefficient system, and that market is dying for innovation. There are too many job seekers playing resume bingo, and everyone on both sides is overwhelmed. It doesn’t need to be like that.

What do you enjoy most about your business?

Technology changes so quickly that my job is never the same for more than 6 months. I love that.

Has anything you’ve tried failed?

We have tried tons of things that have failed. It’s the only reason we’ve been successful. When we fail, we learn from it and move on quickly.

What industry changes do you see coming?

I see another platform shift powered by social media. The Internet brought down newspaper classifieds. Social is bringing down job boards. Recruiting is moving from a sales-driven game to being much more marketing-focused. Beyond that, mobile is the next big change agent.

What websites do you visit everyday besides your own?

Twitter, Facebook, and Dropbox.

Interestingly, 12 months ago, the list would have included wsj.com, TechCrunch, Mashable and boston.com. Now, though, I visit all of those sites via links shared through Twitter.

What advice would you give an aspiring Internet entrepreneur?

Quit your job, find a partner and never outsource or hire someone to do something you’ve never done yourself.

There’s a lot of talk about the decline of education in this country. Throw in lack of motivation and sense of entitlement, and you can see why hiring is difficult now. What have you noticed that they don’t teach in school that you look for when you’re recruiting?

Bullhorn’s core values are energy, service, ownership and competitive edge. I interview primarily for these traits. People can learn new skills, but they can’t change who they are at their core.

What non-industry related skills are you teaching in your office?
We have a huge focus on leadership development. Great leadership is the difference between winning and losing. And, I believe that leadership style goes hand-and-glove with corporate culture. So, we have our own leadership development program that we use to train every one who has management responsibility. It’s made a huge difference in our success over the years.

Thanks and well done Art! 

About Art Papas, Co- founder and CEO of Bullhorn, Inc.

Throughout his career, Art Papas has led the charge for developing web-based applications that promote collaboration, eliminate inefficiency and generally make life better for users. Bullhorn was co-founded on Art’s technological vision in 1999 and over 35,000 recruiting professionals around the world depend on the technologies he has helped create. As CEO, Art helped Bullhorn become one of the few companies launched in 1999 to successfully navigate two major recessions. He has driven the company to sustained, long-term profitability with a client base of over 2,200 firms, including some of the world’s largest brands and has attracted over $32 million from investors.

Prior to Bullhorn, Art started his career as software engineer at Thomson Reuters, where he co-designed and built First Call Insight, a core offering in the First Call product suite. He was also involved in the development of the First Call Research Direct product.

Art’s industry leadership involvement includes membership on the Board of Directors of both the Massachusetts Staffing Association and Portfolio Science. He also serves as an Advisory Board member to Youth Villages, a Boston Based non-profit focused on helping young adults aging out of foster care.

Art is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Tufts University, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.

 

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