ThinkingAhead has been serving their clients as a boutique executive search firm for over 35 years, with headquarters in Nashville. But as firm partner Courtney Rice noted, “what has been interesting about our business the last couple of years, is more and more of our  recruiters are actually remote [not based in Nashville or either of their two satellite offices in North Carolina or Pennsylvania].” As much as 56% of their recruitment team across the board is considered remote.
JW Heflin, one of the company’s recruiters working 100% from his home in Kansas, said: “Whether I am in my home office or traveling, I can go to virtually any computer and use JobAdder. Plus with the app, I can pull up information on my phone right before I walk into important meetings.”
Meanwhile, Kay Linder, who does the same from her home in North Carolina, said: “Our entire healthcare innovation team has been remote and working from home offices and other sites,” adding that she loves the flexibility of the system to enable her to “tailor [JobAdder] to your own particular needs.
“Our other systems have been extremely rigid and as a result, difficult to learn and very complicated to meet individual needs.” Speaking about the mobile app, Kay noted: “It’s speedy and for those of us working from home, speed of access and updating is extremely critical.”
Finally, Jessica Martinex, a recruiter in their non-profit team said: “Whether I am working from my home office in Arizona, visiting friends in New York, seeing family in California, or having a working vacation in Colombia, JobAdder has been a convenient and essential tool for business. I love that it does not have to run on our VPN and when I work late hours out of the office, pulling up client and candidate information on my phone is a breeze.”
A different approach
The firm’s switch to JobAdder in 2015 from MaxHire [purchased by Bullhorn] correlated with their overall shift in philosophy as a company. “We saw an opportunity to grow faster with more virtual recruiters.
“When we were looking to evaluate a new system, finding one that was cloud- based was extremely important to us, not because we thought we were going to move in that direction [remote working] but it’s been a nice by-product.”
There was also the appeal of simplicity. “I personally demo’ed 11 different systems, with JobAdder being the last. Within 5-10 minutes I was like, ‘OK great. What does it cost? This is good.’
“I think that the reason that we were really impressed was that it was just a very simple look and feel and was aesthetically pleasing. We could tell right away that it was powerful, but just the aesthetic was clean and again simple. You guys weren’t overthinking everything.”
A second demo of the JobAdder system was subsequently delivered to some of the senior partners and heads of other business lines, along with two other finalists. “I remember very specifically, within ten minutes of the demo with JobAdder, our senior partner and vice president Tim Knight literally walked out of the meeting and gave me a thumbs up as he left.
“To me, that meant ‘this is great, let’s just move forward,’” said Courtney, adding “We’re a boutique firm. We’re not everything to everybody; we’re not cost-sellers to our clients. And so we don’t want to just be a number [to another ATS]. That’s not what we are to our clients.”
“We were looking for something really different from what we had. We went in the opposite direction by going really simple and clean. I think JobAdder certainly does that, but not at the expense of any functionality.”
What has this meant for the company’s overall numbers as a search firm? As Courtney explained, there’s mixed messaging from the market recently. On the one hand, clients question whether they should hire in a long cycle and are concerned that a recession may be ahead. On the other, “we are at what we would consider to be a 2% unemployment rate for candidates that have a five-year experience level and a college degree. So everybody is looking for the same exact people.”
At the same time, the search firm has been able to show some really strong numbers. “For example in December, we had probably the best December that we’ve ever had in our company’s 30-year history. We never have a good December. People don’t hire in that month. Similarly, we had a really strong March as a firm. So this is across all of our different specialty areas. It was actually the best March and the best month on record that we had in 16 years.”
With a revenue goal of 10MM by 2020 and a goal to increase their headcount to 56 recruiters by the end of 2019, JobAdder will be supporting them every step of the way.
“Right now, I’m sitting with my home laptop, I’m dialled into my remote desktop connection, but if that’s down [which can happen from time to time], I can still use JobAdder, which is really nice.
“Our remote recruiters are not necessarily reliant on our company connections, but they can be completely independent of that and use JobAdder anywhere, anytime. We’ve really been pleased. It’s been, overall, just a really great product for us, a great system and we are glad that’s the way we went many moons ago.”