StaffOnDemand Christine Liu: her journey from banking to recruitment tech

In my never-ending quest to find the best applicant tracking system (ATS) out in the market, it brought me to learned about a startup – StaffOnDemand.

If you have been following my blog, you would remember the review post on their career portal.

Since then, they continue to go strong and was even invited to showcase their recruitment technology in Indonesia.

I had always wanted to build my own ATS. It was supposed to be my foray into the HR tech industry. But I had no idea where to start. The market was too saturated as market veterans told me.

Without any experience in recruitment, Christine started her recruitment tech business and currently has companies like SMU, SITF and Banyan Tree as their clients.

I caught up with Christine to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey:

1. Please share a bit about what you do

I handle the business development for StaffOnDemand, a home-grown recruitment tech business.

StaffOnDemand home page

We power charge lean HR teams through our recruitment management system, which enables them to simplify their hiring workflows dramatically while lowering talent acquisition costs.

2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an entrepreneur! 🙂

Maybe at that age, I might not know how to spell that word (It’s a mighty long speller bee kind of word!), but I have always identified with and derived great joy from being a problem solver, and creating solutions / products in the problem-solving process.

3. What were you doing before starting this business?

I was a banker with a foreign bank, and my last stint was dealing with credit analysis of our corporate clients.

4. How did the idea for your business come about?

There is an enormous cliff-like gap in the recruitment tech industry – We want to challenge the status quo, and help companies to easily afford a robust enterprise recruitment management system without having to pay an exorbitant sum for it.

Technology is disrupting almost every industry today, and for us, we want to make our dent in the recruitment world, changing the way employers connect with talents for the better.

5. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, you are always kept aware of the “opportunity costs” of starting up on your own.

Recruitment tech StaffOnDemand Christine Liu

It is a path that requires a lot of hard work, and that entails with it a particular dedication to commit both time and resources to it, even if the payout is a potential “maybe” in the making.

It’s a tradeoff of both time and resources that you have to level yourself with, because the entrepreneurial path can often be fraught with self-doubt, and well-meaning friends and family may also question the viability of the road you chose as well.

6. How do you go about marketing your business?

A lot of our marketing is done through cold calling – It is pretty underrated as a marketing channel. We would introduce what our software can provide, and invite them (e.g. the HR team) to try out a no obligation trial with us.

At the same time, we also benefit from the assistance of industry professionals, like Adrian, to contribute guest articles about the capabilities of our software: This allows HR professionals to learn more about the recruitment technology that’s currently out there in the market, and at the same time, profile StaffOnDemand.

7. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about?

We pitched to a client who was in our beta and got them started on our enterprise software.

The client was a referral from a friend and shared a lot of the practical issues that HR teams faced while going about the recruitment process.

From these anecdotes, we then translate these into tasks that can be automated by our system – In a way, our product is built iteratively by our clients!

8. Describe/outline your typical work day?

We do anything and everything related to helping our clients manage their recruitment flows, so that entails a fair bit of variation, depending on the clients’ size and recruitment volume.

StaffOnDemand Christine Liu giving a talk

For example, we are currently helping a fast-growing local company to expand regionally and are in technical discussions to ensure that the recruitment system can cater for their expansion workflows seamlessly across multiple countries.

For a smaller firm (e.g. a budding startup), we could be helping them to ensure that they are best positioned to attract the best talents in a very talent-competitive market like Singapore.

9. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?

When we launch the product live! We have had the generous support of firms from the onset (coming out of beta), and it is heartening to see the product being used by companies across so many industries to improve the recruitment process dramatically.

Till date, the product continues to help many lean HR teams to manage their talent acquisition, and we hope to expand our outreach to revolutionise the region.

10. What was the lowest point for you in this business?

The lowest point for us in the firm happened when we were in talks with a company for the use of our technology to streamline their recruitment processes.

We were subsequently turned down not on the merits of the software capabilities (or lack thereof), but because of the firm’s prior substantial investment in a legacy software that would be made redundant if our software is taken up.

We come to recognise that change management is very much an issue for software vendors like us and to factor for this when we speak with clients to find out about their existing setup.

11. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

I think it helps to learn from your peers, and in that perspective, I learn from people around me, and also shared experiences from entrepreneurs who have trod down the same path.

StaffOnDemand Christine Liu at SCCCI

The corporate philosophy we have is so simple; it may be embarrassing: We make customers’ problems our problems and solve them in the best way we know.

In my capacity (head of partner acquisitions), I interact a lot with clients, and their candid feedback has been tremendously helpful in getting us to where we are today.

12. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell her?

The lottery numbers for the past umpteenth year since I was 20? 😛

Jokes aside, I think the world has changed dramatically in the last decade, and knowing what I know now, I would tell my 20-year-old self to be prepared for constant change, and to pay more attention during financial accounting class!

13. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?

You can’t / wont’ be able to do that.

14. What’s your business focus for this year?

Regional expansion.

15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?

It’s all about prioritization. Make your priorities clear from the get go. Create your ‘To Do’ list starting with the most important and cascade down to the least important tasks. If you’re done with your list that means you’ve been spending too much time on things that aren’t important. – Marissa Meyers, 2013

I find drafting a list of things to do, and working down to the sequence of stuff to embark on (based on their priority) an excellent way to stay on top of things.

16. Is there an app or tool you can’t live without?

Wunderlist – It’s a to-do app to keep track of the multitude of things I have to get completed.

Keen to find out more? Reach out to Christine via Facebook or email: [email protected]

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