Emily Stalkfleet manages recruiting operations and recruitment marketing at Precision Medicine Group, a services organization that supports pharmaceutical and life sciences companies in the development of new products and drugs. GR8 People sat down with Emily for a firsthand look at how her team built a custom ATS report that improved their ability to identify and eliminate hiring process bottlenecks.
What made you and your team realize there might be a need for a custom report?
We could see from our ATS reporting features that, in most cases, our biggest challenge wasn’t attracting enough applicants for current Precision Medicine Group opportunities. Rather, we noticed that our applicants appeared to be getting “stuck” in varied stages of the recruitment process. Admittedly, as a global portfolio company with multiple brand companies, we support complex custom workflows with different activity statuses and steps that require collaboration from recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers. It was clear that there was an overall opportunity, but the existing system-delivered reports lacked a quick and precise view to see which applicants were waiting for action.
Once you saw what your challenge was, how did you go about addressing it?
First, we took a step back and thought critically about what specifically we wanted data to accomplish for us, and we arrived at three objectives: identify bottlenecks, quickly take action and articulate our story.
In terms of identifying bottlenecks, we sought data that would help us determine if the bottleneck was the result of a recruiter-driven performance issue, a process issue, an interview stakeholder issue or a business-related issue. We knew it was critical that once an issue was clarified we would be able to act on it. For example, if a candidate completed an interview a week ago, but was still sitting in the system, we wanted to know why. Were we waiting on interviewer feedback and, if so, was it a feedback link issue? Had interviewers simply forgotten that we needed that to move the process forward? The answers to these questions would drive system or process changes to help address the issue with precision. Essentially, we saw that we would need to understand more in order to figure out what action to take.
And articulating your story? Talk more about that piece.
It was also important to us at the outset that we would be able to use the information to drive the conversations that our recruiters were having with business leaders. We wanted recruiters to have specific insights they could share about the status of their searches and what activity was needed to move forward in a way that was clear and compelling.
Our hiring managers are very engaged in the process, so saying that “we have 10 people in interview stage” wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to be able to answer their follow-up questions: Are their interviews scheduled? Were the interviews completed? Are we advancing any of the candidates? This story couldn’t be told at a high level—it needed to drive boots-on-the-ground action.
What came next?
We dug deeper into our workflows, activity statuses and funnel statuses. Without getting overly granular, we realized that our visibility into active applicants and advancement ratios was too broad while our activity status reports were too detailed for recruiters and business leaders to digest quickly.
We were looking for something in the middle, so we asked GR8 People to help us build a custom report. But first, to get there, our team had to map each of our more than 250 custom activity statuses to what we termed an “action status.” Each of these buckets contained a grouping of activity statuses that were all waiting on the same action from the same person. Our operations team of three is very close to these workflows and was able to complete this mapping, which was used to drive the new Report Summary in GR8 People.
What have the results been of the new report?
It’s been an immediate game changer. For starters, recruiters can see in 30 seconds or less what action is needed from them and respond accordingly. We built filters into the report that let recruiters drill down for more detail when they need it. We also use conditional formatting to show business leaders exactly what’s going on with their candidates, where candidates are sitting, and who has actions required to move candidates along.
Exposing problem areas allows us to take the necessary action to eliminate the bottlenecks. For example, we immediately saw that we had a lot of candidates sitting in the “new” status, but they weren’t moving forward. After investigating, we learned the recruiters didn’t have a place for “maybe” candidates and were just leaving them in “new.” With this knowledge, we were able to adjust our My Work tiles to support the recruiters’ ability to quickly find and advance or DQ the “maybes,” so they were not just sitting there.
That’s just one example of many things we’ve uncovered through data. More importantly, the report has really changed how our recruiters work with their hiring stakeholders. They use these self-service/on-demand reports on a regular basis to show their internal customers exactly what’s going on and the action being taken to solve any issues that we now have visibility into.
What advice do you have for recruiting teams that want to improve their use of data and reporting?
First, the time investment is worth it. It took us about two days to do all the mapping required for our custom report. But now we never have to do it again and the time that we’re saving recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers—and, of course, our candidates—has already proven an incredible return on our investment.
I also suggest thinking creatively about how you can use data to solve problems and tell your story. Having a sponsor in a leadership role that you can be honest with about these opportunities is critical. Developing trust with your leader so you can focus on process improvement versus worrying about being criticized for what isn’t going well makes all the difference. It is almost impossible to identify gnarly root cause issues, options for new processes, and configuration without knowing your leader will have your back and support the expected change management. But if you put in the effort required to bring your ideas to life, it will change how you do your work every day.