applicant tracking systems

Q&A With Patti Cusack of The Oakleaf Group

From an Antiquated ATS to the Transformational Power of a One-Experience Talent Platform

Q&A With Patti Cusack of The Oakleaf Group

Patti Cusack is the director of recruiting for The Oakleaf Group, a risk analytics, finance and technology advisory firm that helps organizations acquire the high-level consulting talent needed to realize complex change initiatives. During her time at the firm, Patti has introduced a proactive approach to recruiting that leverages recruiting process automation at every possible phase. Her first step was to identify and implement a modern talent platform that could support more efficient—and effective—recruiting and establish the strong technical foundation needed to implement AI-driven applications.

You joined The Oakleaf Group in 2018 and immediately identified the need for new enterprise recruiting software. What factors drove your assessment?

One of the things I noticed right away was that the existing applicant tracking system (ATS) technology was very cumbersome to use, for both the recruiters and the hiring managers. As we all know, if technology isn’t intuitive then both the internal and external experiences it supports will be poor. More specifically, the system lacked automation, and it was difficult to access the reporting that we needed so that we could communicate effectively with our stakeholders about the status of all jobs.

That ATS had been in place for almost a decade, and it was the risk of derailing recruiting operations while a new system was being implemented or potentially losing some of our data that kept us tied to an antiquated system that did not work for us. GR8 People had an implementation team that took excellent care of us and made the transition smooth and easy.

Most talent acquisition leaders are concerned with hiring efficiency and automation. Can you share more around your challenges as they relate to these aspects of recruiting?

In our case, we saw a disconnect between our actual hiring process and the way that our ATS forced us to configure workflows within the system. What we desperately needed was a more straightforward workflow that reflected our end-to-end process steps and requirements with the flexibility to adapt the process as needed and ensure that we could move candidates through the pipeline efficiently all the way through to the offer.

Also, we did not have a good way to manage, let alone nurture, our talent leads. As a result, the recruiters were essentially starting from scratch every time a position opened. Between that and all the unnecessary process steps, the time it took us to get qualified candidates in front of clients was far too long. It was clear that we had to make some big changes quickly.

What were your main priorities as you reviewed and evaluated recruiting software solutions?

Obviously, we were extremely focused on what we knew the current provider lacked—better workflow configurations, functionality that could easily be automated, improved reporting, and a candidate relationship management (CRM) component to capture talent leads.

But we also needed to consider the capacity for vendors to complete our implementation quickly as we were looking to go live within a few months. GR8 People was able to meet all these requirements and more, including the seamless migration of more than 40,000 candidate records that involved bringing over only the candidate and job data that mattered to us. This is important because I wanted to keep the new system clutter-free and fully optimized, which you can’t do if it’s weighed down by irrelevant data.

How has the adoption of a robust talent platform helped you achieve your recruiting goals?

It’s been nothing short of a complete transformation. We have the simplified workflow configurations that make sense for our hiring process along with the automations we were looking for, such as self-scheduling and hiring manager notifications, as well as triggers that ensure candidate communications and assessments are sent automatically based on the amount of time someone is in a specific status. Plus, the platform’s interview and offer functionality has allowed us to further streamline our process. Our Talent CRM has made a huge difference, too, because we have access to qualified, interested and available talent at our fingertips instead of starting from scratch.

And the results speak for themselves. We’ve significantly reduced our overall time to hire averages, as well as the time to slate I mentioned earlier. In fact, our team has realized almost an 80% reduction in the average time it takes to get candidates in front of client. It’s a direct reflection of the ability of our recruiters to go from being reactive to being proactive, simply because we finally have the right technology in place.

We are contributing to the success of our clients' initiatives by providing them the qualified resources they need in a timely and efficient manner. Our clients have come to rely on us to supply the resources they need to ensure the success of their initiatives, and they noticed the improvement right away. Submittals now have a polished and branded look, and our client interview process is seamless. We integrated digital signatures to our GR8 People offer process, so we can now move from client approval of a candidate through offer and acceptance and into onboarding in moments.

Reporting is a big deal for us. In our old system we had very cumbersome reporting that took significant time and effort to translate data into actionable leadership reports. I used to spend hours each week developing the leadership dashboard reporting. GR8 People worked with me to set up simplified reports that pull right into our leadership dashboard without any need for data cleansing. The whole process now takes just a few minutes.

What’s next for The Oakleaf Group’s recruiting team?

We will continue to look for opportunities to further enhance our efficiency and effectiveness. Last year, we recruited 50% more people than the year before, and we have even bigger growth goals for 2020. To meet this increased demand for our services, we added two new recruiters to the team. With our strong foundation in place as it relates to candidate engagement and moving people through the pipeline, we’re shifting our focus to uncovering new sources of candidates by taking advantage of GR8 People’s native AI-driven sourcing and matching technology.

So, stay tuned?

Absolutely. The team is thrilled to be spending far less time on repetitive, manual tasks and far more time on high-value recruiting activities that deliver results. But, from my view, we’re just getting started.

Learn more about the benefits realized by moving to a unified talent platform. Download our E-Book, From Siloed to Seamless, today.

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