Box: Thinking outside the ATS with AI-powered recruiting strategies

When tech company Box needed a better way to discover and hire candidates, its talent leaders turned to AI.

Box: Thinking outside the ATS with AI-powered recruiting strategies

As a leading cloud workflow, collaboration, and content-management platform, Box is built on a vision of bringing people together to do amazing work as seamlessly as possible. Powering 100K+ customers, including 67% of the Fortune 500, Box is helping define both the present and future of work with constant innovation.

Box’s rate of innovation means that hiring the right people at the right time is paramount, but the company’s recruiting leaders were finding that candidate discovery and rediscovery was becoming increasingly overwhelming and difficult, as was the process of useful measurement and reporting progress to executives. 

“When I first joined, our ATS (Applicant Tracking System) was in Greenhouse, but every Friday afternoon recruiters would manually update the status of job recs in an Excel spreadsheet, and that was used to create dashboards and updates for leadership,” said Bernardo Sosa, Box’s Director, Talent Operations. “My first question was, ‘Why do we have an ATS if we’re asking people to then reflect the same information manually?’ ”

Box also had too much of a good thing: 800,000 candidates in their ATS that were almost impossible to search. “That number was just staring us in the face,” Sosa said. “It was always there when we’d look at our candidate pool.” 

All of this not only made recruiters’ jobs harder, it also made it very difficult to define metrics, report them accurately, and set benchmarks for success. It was clear to Sosa that Box needed to take a close look at their TA tech stack and make changes for better outcomes.

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Taking a holistic view

An initial top priority for Sosa and his colleague Lucy Tran, Senior Recruiting Program Manager at Box, was to replace the vendor for Box’s career site and recruitment CRM, which was being severely underused. 

“We only had one out of 50 users actually utilizing the CRM, which was really unfortunate,” Tran said. Evaluating the usefulness of the tool, which had been inherited from previous HR leadership, made Sosa and Tran realize that the only way to effectively replace it would be to look at every recruiting tool and how they were or weren’t working together to meet hiring goals. “That’s when it became important for us to say ‘this is our opportunity to evaluate our tech stack holistically.’”

Rather than simply asking team members what they did or didn’t like about their tools, Sosa and Tran embarked on a user research study of their recruiting tools, following recruiters in the workflow in real time.

“Nobody told us, ‘hey, I need a better ability to search candidates in the ATS,’ but we saw their pain when we followed them in the workflow,” Sosa said. “We saw things like how looking for a past applicant and trying to match them to current opportunities was really, really hard to do.”

After that research, the team identified the career site and candidate rediscovery as top priorities for new solutions. They looked at a range of sourcing tools that had some of what they wanted but were still missing key functionalities. That’s when several talent leaders outside of Box suggested they look at the Eightfold platform and its capabilities to use AI to solve their needs.

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Bringing the whole organization into the ‘fold

Eightfold’s superior level of support compared to previous partners was an important factor for Sosa and Tran, but what really solidified the choice was the platform’s ability to enhance Box’s sourcing, recruiter productivity, and the needs of their career site as a channel not only for finding candidates but for their employer branding strategy as a whole.

“Then we could really focus on selling internally this concept of AI,” Sosa said. “It’s a buzzword that everyone talks about, but when we started this process, nobody was talking about AI in an HR context.”

“The important thing for selling it to senior leadership was building out the return on investment. What could that potentially look like for us?” Tran said. “The biggest considerations were recruiter gains in productivity, how is that going to show up, and then reducing time to hire. And cost to hire is another factor that our finance teams really look at deeply. Those were all the connecting pieces that really made us push our case.”

Once they were in implementation with Eightfold, Sosa and Tran realized that the key to unlocking the promised benefits was the calibration of roles that Eightfold enables. In calibration, recruiters and hiring managers together can identify which skills or experiences are non-negotiable and which are nice to have, and then based on the candidates surfaced, decide whether to expand or narrow the talent pool.

“We spent a ton of time training everyone on the calibration tool, but we’re also making sure that the teams are doing it week over week,” Tran said. “We’re now tracking it pretty granularly every week. This is really important for our recruiters, because that’s the partnership they have with their business units. They need to consistently evaluate whether the calibration is aligned with what their business partners want, and if they’re going to yield the result of a true hire at the end.” 



Fulfilling the promise of faster, more effective hiring

In implementing Eightfold, Sosa and Tran wanted to make sure they didn’t repeat the previous mistake of buying a tool that people didn’t use.

“Building our power users has been really important for us, and they’ve filled roles that have been really challenging to find talent for,” Tran said. “The reception has been really, really good and I think the excitement is still there because they’re seeing yield from using the tool.”

The majority, 95%, of the recruiting team is using the full tool on a weekly basis, which Tran said “warms my heart.” They were also able to measure that with Eightfold, Box reduced time to hire by 16%. 

“We saw that AI was the future and we wanted to future-proof our operations, and we’re so glad we did,” Sosa said. “If you have an opportunity, use that moment to look at your tech stack. Look at it critically. And sometimes that means telling your team not to use the tools that they’re used to using. But take that opportunity to review and ask the hard questions. Measure, usage, adoption, ROI.”

Sosa acknowledged that many recruiters worry about how their job will change with AI. “What I tell everyone always is that AI isn’t going to replace the role of the recruiter — if anything is going to make you 30% more productive. It’s going to make you a 30% better recruiter than what you are today.”

Watch the entire Cultivate session with Box, “Thinking outside the ATS: A tale of talent acceleration,” now on demand.

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