Scott Petersen is just your average midwesterner with a passion for community and helping others. However, the difference between Scott Petersen and most other folks in our communities is the fact that he is at the forefront of the ever-changing hiring landscape with his company, HIRECLICK.
Though Petersen is leading a burgeoning software company, he actually doesn’t have a traditional tech background. “I’m actually a marketing guy,” Petersen said. However, prior to starting HIRECLICK, the majority of Petersens’ marketing and sales roles were tech adjacent—he worked at At&T in a sales role, he worked at a digital agency and he was the online director for the Argus Leader, a Sioux Falls newspaper.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Albert Lea, MN; a smaller town about 80 miles south of Minneapolis. Predominately a blue-collar town, it instilled a work hard/play hard mentality that has always served as a valuable guide.
When did you start to see a need for HIRECLICK?
We have been involved with recruitment advertising and technology since 2007 and are lucky enough to have built relationships with thousands of local employers. In about 2017, we began to notice that the employers with access to robust, often very expensive, hiring systems were gaining a distinct advantage in the local hiring landscape. We saw an opportunity to even the playing field by developing affordable, flexible software that let small to midsized businesses regain their voice in the hiring conversation.
How did you go about building the software platform?
Amazingly, we used the same tech team that we already had in place to really get a version one of HIRECLICK completed and have since ramped our development efforts by adding some great internal technology resources. As a publisher of job boards, we had some of the technology already done. If you think about job boards and hiring software, the two have a lot in common. For instance, they both provide job seekers, which is hopefully a really easy way to search, find and apply to jobs. In addition to that, they also provide the database infrastructure for how to store those resumes. We simply would not be where we are at today without an amazing group of developers and tech leadership.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making that transition with HIRECLICK?
It took significantly longer to get to market than we anticipated. At that time, the recruitment technology industry was changing so quickly. So the path that we started out on changed pretty significantly. By the time we had gotten the minimum requirements done that we thought would be necessary to launch a product, the industry had shifted, and we really need to keep on building in order to bring a product to market that clients would find value in. For instance, building partnerships with national job boards wasn’t part of the original plan. That is a really significant part of the equation right now. Also, creating a careers website for each and every employer client. We felt that one component of the hiring process missing in most small to midsize businesses was a career site. While it created more work and delayed our full-scale launch, we knew that we needed to include those more advanced components as part of the initial launch.
I can’t say I regret it. Being a marketing guy, I’m wildly intrigued by the viability of a product and how it is seen by the market. It’s a really fun challenge to forecast what product features will be a hit and what product is really going to take off. So, like most product launches, it was a bit exhausting, but it’s really fun and rewarding to see how positive HIRECLICK’s value proposition is with our employer clients.
What else really excites you about being an entrepreneur?
To be honest with you, I never aspired to be an entrepreneur. It really wasn’t a goal of mine. I just had the relevant experience and saw a really big opportunity to provide a product that resonated more with small to medium-sized businesses at a price point that they could afford. The mission was to solve the largest business challenge within the largest segment of business clients, which happens to be hiring new workers.
What’s exciting is that we’re 16 years old as a company and it actually still feels like we’re a startup. We’re passed the early-stage financial uncertainty but it still very much feels like a startup because everyone’s still really passionate about being the best and staying ahead of the competition. And honestly, that’s really what drives us… to be the best.
I didn’t aspire to be an entrepreneur but I look back on it now and I am really thankful that we took the risk to go do it because it has been a blast and is showing really positive signs of massive scale.
How have you fostered and helped keep that excitement in the company over such a long period of time?
It seems like, with any long journey, there are checkpoints along the way that allow you to look back and say, ‘Wow, that was really fun and we are certainly on track.’ But those moments also allow you to catch your breath for the race to that next checkpoint.
We’ve had a lot of those along the way that all sort of relate to the bigger picture of growth. For example, along the way, we’ve been able to develop a lot of new features for our product, which we don’t charge extra for. And it’s really fun bringing those features to our clients as they reinforce the value that they receive in HIRECLICK. It also gives our salespeople and customer service reps a lot of motivation to go talk to people about these new features and about how we are really helping companies.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing as a company right now?
Believe it or not, hiring is always a challenge. However, I feel like that challenge is lightening up a bit. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are forecasting that we will double our size in the next couple of years in terms of staff. But that is a challenge for us as it is for every growing company.
I think the other challenge is to really focus on the parts of the business that we want to stay with. For instance, we focus 100%, on helping our clients hire workers. And there are adjacent product sets that assist companies with managing HR functions or onboarding employees. One of our challenges is to really dig our heels in and figure out where we’re going to focus and more importantly, what we’re not going to focus on. Right now, we are remaining focused exclusively on hiring… which we believe is the largest challenge among our clients.
The last thing I would say is managing our growth plans… which are aggressive. While our growth goals are steep, the challenge is to grow at a pace that allows us to stay close to our core philosophies and values.
Can you take us through the evolution of HIRECLICK?
HIRECLICK started as a simple solution that organized job applications for employers. As we built it out, we discovered there were some critical features that really needed to be in version 1 of the product, including automatic posting to multiple job boards.
In addition to gaining more exposure for job listings, HIRECLICK also comes with a streamlined, mobile-friendly careers website. For years, employers have focused their hiring strategy around reaching more job seekers but have commonly ignored streamlining the process for job seekers completing job applications. We felt that this was a critical component of the overall solution.
It was important to us that we could accomplish this, at scale, with affordable pricing and flexible terms. We came to market with an all-in-one hiring solution for as low as $99/month and quickly grew to just over 2500 activations.
With a baseline solution in place for thousands of employers, we’ve since begun to adjust and optimize for changing trends in the hiring landscape. We’ve added features like bulk email tools that can help to keep job seekers updated on the status of their application, built integrations with several social media platforms, allow employers to embed their job listings into their existing websites, etc.
Through the growth of the product and the business, the most important factor for us was that our employer clients found value in our hiring platform, but also in how we as a company were helping them solve critical hiring challenges. We now have a formal Customer Success department that is focused on doing what it takes to optimize their hiring practices through HIRECLICK.
You said during our discovery call that you’ve been almost entirely in the background, not doing much marketing. How on earth did you manage to amass the customer base you have while doing that?
We have been very fortunate to see an intersection of a much-needed product and an unbelievable team. From our sales team to customer success efforts, to our tech team, we are very client-focused. This focus has allowed us to properly communicate our unique value proposition to clients and has created an enormous amount of client referrals. Our clients often tell other businesses about HIRECLICK and recommend us because of their positive experience.
We also have a unique outlook on finding new clients. We made a decision to focus on a business segment where we can make the largest impact with our product. We intentionally concentrate our efforts on working with small to mid-sized employers in the upper Midwest. For growth-oriented businesses, it’s always a scary thing to limit your sales prospects to a certain size or geography. But a strange thing happened… by limiting our selling geography and “going deep” in this region of the country, we gained focus and have grown much faster than we anticipated.
It’s sort of an old-fashioned, but effective approach. We believe that if we take care of clients in the right manner, they will be happy to refer their friends and family.
Where is HIRECLICK today?
We like where we are right now. Our HIRECLICK product is quickly gaining steam and we’re constantly building more value into the product. I feel like we are in a good place and really focused on continuing to help solve challenges that our clients face with hiring new workers.
We are headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD and are currently a small, but mighty team of 13. We anticipate that team growing to 25 quickly.
How has the landscape changed?
I don’t love the word change because it always seems to take on a negative connotation. To me, change is an indicator of evolution and progress towards something else. I think the evolution of local hiring is the growing need of both employers and job seekers not just to seek relationships (employment) with each other but compatibility in those relationships. They are both looking for “fits” for their needs.
As employers, we are all looking to hire right now. But, those employers that take the time to truly understand their core values and the reason behind them are able to better communicate why they are a desirable employer. Transparency is key to hiring success. My advice to employers is to stop trying to be everything to every applicant. Rather, examine what really makes up the fabric of your organization and then craft a transparent message to job seekers. You’ll be shocked at how the “best fit” candidates will start finding you.
The evolution of the job-seeking process is moving in the same direction. Candidates are looking for work opportunities that meet their unique needs. Pay is important, but often takes a backseat to other elements like company mission and culture, work environment, or work-life balance perks.
It is very important for all employers to recognize that hiring success is more about reaching the people that count than counting the people that you reach.
How have you improved over time?
As a fast-growing company, I think our improvement lies in us better understanding our role in the ecosystem and recognizing those employer situations that we can truly improve through HIRECLICK.
This self-actualization is not easy and can be really humbling as you just can’t be a product fit for every company. If we stay true to our core mission and continue to treat people right, I am confident that we’ll stay on the right track.
What advice do you have for other employers out there trying to hire effectively in this market?
We do see a common element amongst businesses that are having success with hiring. I believe the most important thing that you can do as a company and as a leadership team is to really try to pinpoint who you are as a company and define your unique employer brand. And do it in a way that’s very honest. It’s really, really important that a business’ personality comes through at every touchpoint of that job seeker along the way.
In other words, if they see a job posting on Indeed, or a local job board, job seekers today want to see information, in addition to the requirements of the job, about why it’s a great opportunity. They want to know why a company is a really great place to look for a job. Those job seekers today are very much demanding that as part of the process and it didn’t used to be that way.
It used to be that if I am looking for an accounting job, I want to go find one that kind of meets my skills and requirements. Job seekers today are just as interested in who they’re working for as they are in what they’re going to be doing.
Another important thing to note right now is that job seekers are only going to invest a certain amount of time into an application process. Too many employers have very clumsy and far too complicated application processes. We are big believers that the application process should never take more than 30 seconds. And if it does take more than 30 seconds, you’re going to lose a lot of job seekers along the way.
Where is HIRECLICK headed?
I get really excited when trying to answer this question. I’m excited about our future because of a really solid foundation that our team has worked hard to establish.
In the immediate future, I see us rapidly growing our team and making significant improvements to the HIRECLICK solution.
I feel that our growth will only accelerate. There are so many employers that need help with hiring. I am hopeful that HIRECLICK will continue to be the preferred solution for these employers in the upper Midwest.
What are some of your passions outside of work?
Outside of work, my passion is my family time. With the demands of a growing business and a busy family, our time together is sacred. When we can, my wife and I love to travel with our family. We want them to see parts of the country and cool things that we’ve been able to see.
Our entire family also really loves sports, particularly NBA basketball. We love to catch every game that we can. With the NBA in playoff mode, we’re glued to the TV and recently, got a chance to catch a playoff game in Golden State.
Where to Find Them
401 E 8th St
Sioux Falls, SD 57103