MarTech Interview with Eric Theobald, SVP of Products and Engineering at CareerBuilder

One of the greatest learnings from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is that now is the time for teams across industries to capitalize on better internal processes while driving productivity and change. Eric Theobald, SVP of Products and Engineering at CareerBuilder discusses a few thoughts in this quick chat:


Tell us a little about yourself Eric…we’d love to hear about your journey so far…how has the 2020 pandemic been for you and your dev team at CareerBuilder?

I’ve spent the last 22 years in the HR and Human Capital Management space working with customers of all sizes helping them achieve their business goals. Over that same time, I’ve experienced firsthand how critical it is to find the right people to join my teams as quickly as possible, so we don’t miss a beat in supporting our customers. The ideal candidate often is someone who has the skills and passion to learn and also brings in a new perspective.

2020 has been incredibly hard with all the challenges of not seeing friends and family due to quarantine, losing loved ones to COVID, trying to support remote learning for our children, wildfires, and murder hornets to name a few. At the same time, I am incredibly proud of our team at CareerBuilder for managing to balance all of that while being engaged at work and remaining passionate about our collective goal to help companies find the “right” candidates as quickly and economically as we can while supporting job seekers.

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Our teams made the pivot to remote work extremely quickly and are just as productive as they used to be, if not more.

What are some of the ways in which you’ve seen businesses’ needs for HR Tech / Tech change through the new normal – what are some of the ways in which you feel HR tech innovators can enhance their offerings to suit today’s changing needs for HR teams in 2021 and beyond (how /why?).

Pre-pandemic, we were in the tightest labor market in half a century – HR challenges were a low quantity and quality of applicants. Now, we see teams overwhelmed with applications but under pressure to hire top talent as quickly, and cheaply as possible. This is straining resources for HR teams, especially as they struggle to find the best tools to adapt to a new virtual environment. Teams need HR tech that will help them support remote processes and become more efficient with their time while reducing costs during the tight financial environment.

One thing teams can do to enhance their processes is introduce more AI-based tech. AI can be used to automate sifting through resumes, sorting and ranking applicants, emailing candidates and scheduling interviews — saving time and effort. This translates into real results, for example, CareerBuilder’s AI Job Posting tool allows recruiters to post five times faster and increase applications by 175%. AI can also provide insights that streamline strategy and speed up processes. For instance, it can show HR pros where they are most likely to find good candidates and can learn over time what candidate data and qualifications are most relevant.

Finally, another place that HR tech can make a big difference is promoting diversity. During the economic downturn women and minorities are being disproportionately displaced from their positions. As companies look to build their talent pipeline and bring back their workforce, hiring managers would be smart to utilize tech designed to address gender bias in the hiring process. Additionally, by focusing on tech that prioritizes skills-based matching in addition to experience-based matching, companies will bring a wider, more diverse set of candidates to the table.

Can you take us through some of CareerBuilder’s latest and upcoming innovations?

Absolutely. Last year we released a variety of updates to our Talent Acquisition Suite including integration capabilities with clients’ own talent networks and career sites, a new self-service center, a redesigned CareerBuilder Applicant Tracking (CBAT) site and new insight capabilities for our SocialReferral tool. The updates provided clients with easier access to data and information, facilitate improved communication with candidates and provide an enhanced candidate and client experience.

We released a redesigned app experience that improves search and privacy/security features for jobseekers and increased integration between platforms, posting improvements for remote jobs and a two-way SMS function for recruiters.

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At the end of last year a new analytics dashboard within our suite was rolled out to save recruiters time and create greater efficiencies, enabling them to fill positions more quickly. The dashboard provides a singular place to view all of the platform’s analytics, allowing recruiters to view the number of candidates within a selected timeframe, identify which solutions contributed to the number of candidates sourced, and track trends over time.

In December we also made updates to our platform that gamify profile completion for job seekers. The updates encourage job seekers to provide more qualitative information, helping recruiters identify candidates with transferrable skills that can make them a good fit for a job.

In the coming months, we plan to release more detailed pages of the dashboard. We also plan to continue our focus on updating our talent acquisition suite. As mentioned above, we committed to a three-year $300M investment in our suite, so expect to see several product update announcements in the coming months.

We’d love to hear about some of the top friction points in the job application process that today’s HR Tech features are best helping to alleviate from applicant and business point of view?

The talent acquisition space has become highly fragmented, causing many pain points. There are too many point-solution providers, creating a costly, ineffective employer experience. For candidates too, these varied hand-offs in the system lead to friction, causing low conversion rates. There is a need for solutions that can easily integrate across systems and providers.

At CareerBuilder, our team of data scientists and engineers have created a full funnel solution, for clients who need our systems to integrate with legacy systems they have in place and for job seekers, so they can find and apply to the right role faster.

As HR leaders respond to the business needs of the new normal; what are some of the top thoughts you’d share with them when it comes to implementing HR Tech to drive hiring decisions and employee policies?

It is incredibly important in the “new normal” for companies to focus on fostering a strong corporate culture with routine communications that provide transparency on all aspects of the business. This is critical to keep employees from feeling disconnected which can negatively affect both their productivity and eventually your ability to attract top talent as your employees are one of your most important brand ambassadors.

As soon as the impact of COVID was being felt in the Spring of 2020, CareerBuilder leadership implemented two things that I believe have resulted in our teams continuing to be highly engaged and productive: 1) Irina Novoselsky, CareerBuilder CEO, scheduled an all hands video call 2x/week titled “Real Talk” that brought the entire company together to hear about what was going on in the company; both wins and challenges. Everyone has their camera on and part of the call is to get a chance to connect with others, see their kids or pets, celebrate birthdays/holidays across the world, and even acknowledge major events. These calls are not long, but they have been critical to maintaining the sense of being connected and working towards a common goal. 2) We have been heavily using our own Social Referral app which gives everyone another avenue to not only keep in touch within CareerBuilder, but also to let our friends and social networks know all the great things that are happening at CareerBuilder and openings to join our team.

Having a strong corporate culture will not only help us weather the events that occurred in 2020 but also put us in an excellent position to help our customers as they start to grow again in 2021 due to having fully engaged teams and the ability to quickly expand ourselves using employee referrals driven by Social Referral.

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What are some of the top tech trends and in-demand skills you feel will dominate HR / and hiring in the tech marketplace in 2021? Some technologies you feel will drive the year?

In 2021 we expect to see several trends in the job market including:

  • Skills-based searching: We’ll see a shift in focus from recruiters on previous job titles/experience to skillsets. This broadening of mindsets and application requirements will help promote diversity and open more doors for the 84% of jobseekers open to switching industries. This will be accomplished through smart technology. For example at CareerBuilder, our AI-powered tools have skills-based matching capabilities which highlight candidates who have the necessary skills and backgrounds that can add value to an organization, versus just looking at previous job titles alone.
  • Upskilling and reskilling: During the past few months, entire industries and job roles have been turned inside out or eliminated. Workers will need to move quickly to learn new skills that will be applicable for the future of work. Companies will also roll out new programs to help upskill current workforces to keep pace with the rate of digital transformation that the pandemic has accelerated.
  • D&I remaining front and center: D&I is more than just hitting a number or a quota. Employees will expect companies to have comprehensive programs with trainings, philanthropic efforts, time off, and incentives for referrals. Additionally, companies will be expected to take a stance and speak out on social issues. We will see more appointments of focused roles like Chief Diversity Officers and stretch goals for workforce and leadership representation. At CareerBuilder, we’ve been heavily investing in tech tools that can help create a diverse and inclusive talent acquisition experience and workforce. For example, one of our AI tools helps recruiters write gender- and tone-neutral job descriptions and flags when they draft something that may alienate a certain group.

Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about CareerBuilder’s employee and company culture

The team at CareerBuilder is rooted in an understanding of the importance and significance of our work in getting people to work and helping employers find top talent. Our teams have an entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate grit and determination to make things happen and bring ideas to life. There is a real team mentality, and working in the face of the pandemic helped to bring our teams together more so than before across departments and functions.

And lastly, a few of your biggest takeaways and tips on working effectively from anywhere….and adjusting to the new normal.

My biggest tip for adjusting to the new normal is to remain flexible. We must learn to be comfortable with change – in location, hours and responsibilities. However, we must also closely guard our mental health, ensuring we set proper work and life boundaries and continue to pursue professional development opportunities. One final productivity tip I’ve found useful is to maintain as close a semblance of normal as possible – continuing to dress up for work, ensuring I have a set workspace, and keeping to my regular working hours whenever possible.

CareerBuilder is a global HR technology company that provides talent acquisition solutions to help employers find, hire and onboard great talent, and helps job seekers build new skills and progressive careers as the modern world of work changes. CareerBuilder has 25 years of experience as a talent company using technology to place people in jobs, and it is the only company with both the technology, through its online platform, and the candidates via its job site, to create a connected end-to-end experience at each stage of the hiring process. CareerBuilder operates in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia and is the largest provider of AI-powered hiring solutions serving the majority of the Fortune 500 across five specialized markets.

Eric Theobald is Senior Vice President of Products and Engineering for CareerBuilder’s Talent Acquisition Suite. Since joining the global HR tech organization, he has led the development and roll-out of the new website, the Talent Network Career Site product, and the Talent Discovery Platform redesign improving user experience and reducing friction for users in both the B2C and B2B marketplaces. In his more than 20-year career in the Human Capital Management industry, he has driven multi-functional global teams to provide impactful customer solutions, including product management, software development, cloud operations, information security, development operations, and professional services.

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