Go Long with Your Candidate Experience, Kids

“Moving without motion
Screaming without sound
Across an open ocean
Flying there on temporary ground…”

—Jack White, Temporary Ground


We huddled together while Brad barked out our last names and the next play.

“Grossman, you do a five-yard buttonhook. I’m hitting you, so be ready. Smith, you block, and if I have to dump to you, I will. And Day,” he paused stood up to look over at the other team, and then bent down again in the huddle. “Day, go long. All right, let’s go.”

My friend Robby dropped his head and shook it. Go long was code for please run downfield and draw away the defenders but I’m never going to throw you the ball.

“Brad, c’mon. Go long? I swear I can get open.”

“Okay, okay. Just go long, man. And be ready.”


We all laughed, but I felt bad for Robby. True, he wasn’t all that coordinated on the football field, but he was fast and in excellent shape from playing water polo. He could swim circles around us and could catch and throw the water polo ball with amazing precision.

It was a cold and foggy afternoon during holiday break. We were all high school juniors wearing grubby sweats and playing a little friendly four-on-four football at a local park.

We broke huddle, lined up and ran the play. Robby actually went long even against his own judgment, but then I was covered and Brad was about to get sacked. He had no choice but throw it to Robby, who of course was wide open.

Maybe it was risky throwing it to Robby, but what if he caught it and scored the winning touchdown?

What if indeed. Even with innovative blue ocean strategy and progressive risk-taking, businesses rise and fall on temporary ground as readily as political empires. There are simple too many economic factors in play these days, but the right workforce can and does make a difference.

However, imagine the go-long metaphor in the world of work and what it takes to be competitive with talent acquisition today. Many companies still can’t stomach throwing the long ball, especially when you add in a complex global talent market mired in employment law and regulatory mud.

It’s just easier to replicate the status quo of stale recruiting processes and run the same plays over and over again just to get some of the right butts in the right seats. Because sooner rather than later many of those talented butts will play musical chairs.

That’s why Talent Board launched the Candidate Experience Awards four years ago. Talent Board is a non-profit organization focused on the promotion and data benchmark research of a quality candidate experience. Tired of hearing the same old stories of poor candidate experience, the Talent Board co-founders set out elevate the mission of a better recruiting process and business performance – and found it they did.

Today the Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards is open to all global multinational and regional companies including North America employers, EMEA employers, APAC employers and will soon launch is Latin America – and is free for participating companies. The CandE Awards program consists of three survey rounds designed to evaluate and recognize organizations that produce outstanding candidate experiences.

Round One is comprised of a multi-dimensional survey designed to capture and evaluate the nominated company’s recruitment processes and practices impacting the candidate experience. All companies that complete the first round submission process receive Employer Benchmark data.

Those that meet the awards’ baseline for candidate experience were invited to participate in Round Two of the competition, which involves surveying a random sampling of the company’s 2015 candidates. Each firm had to commit to a statistically significant candidate response, as well as a set standard for the proportion of randomly selected respondents not hired. This year there were 130,000 candidates that participated in the survey and nearly 80 percent were not hired.

Companies that meet criteria for both rounds one and two are awarded a “CandE Award Winner” designation (and this year’s top 50 will be recognized at the 2nd Annual Candidate Experience Symposium September 30 – October 2 in Fort Worth, TX.).

Here’s some go-long recruiting strategy data for you: over 74% of winners and 65% of the nearly 200 participating companies (winners and non-winners) are systematically aligning candidate performance to recruiter performance. The latter represents a 10% increase from all participating companies in 2014. This means that candidate experience for both CandE winners and non-winners is:

  • Regularly measured & incorporated into the recruiter dashboard per their performance reviews and there are both non-monetary performance (gifts cards, trips, etc.) and monetary performance incentives (salary increase, bonus).
  • It is regularly discussed in formal recruiter reviews and it’s measured and incorporated into the recruiter dashboard. There are no performance incentives.
  • Regularly discussed in formal recruiter reviews but the measure is subjective and not formalized, and there are no performance incentives.

Winners with exceptional and innovative recruiting practices are advanced to a final “judged” Round Three, where their video interviews are reviewed by the CandE judging panel to determine whether or not they should receive a special “Story Teller” honor based on their positive candidate experience. This is in addition to the statistical analysis and algorithms applied above and the selection of the top 50 CandE winners.

Those that are getting the “Story Teller” honor this year are including the following three plays in their talent acquisition “passing” game:

  1. Map multiple candidate touch points and take the time to educate candidates on what each one means – and survey them for continuous feedback.
  2. Utilize technologies such as video interviewing and onboarding as a means of improving the recruiting process.
  3. Quantify the impact of poor candidate experience and potential customer loss (potentially hundreds of millions per year).

There’s plenty more where that came from. It’s no longer just about raising awareness around recruiting and candidate experience and avoiding the black hole. The Talent Board CandE survey participants and CandE winners have created a sweet new benchmark for talent acquisition and business performance around the world. And each year the multi-year and first-time winners raise the business bar even higher for us all.

So go long with your candidate experience, kids. I know you can get open.