“Alternating currents force a show of hands. Rational responses force a change of plans. Anything can happen…” –Neil Peart

C&E-MetallicGold-Logo-no backgroundEven elevating the customer experience…

The crush of the crowds and screaming children. The line lines waiting in the summer heat. Then finally you’re inside air conditioned corridors where magical distractions abound. Your wait hasn’t disappeared; you’ve still got upwards of another hour or two, as there are signposts marking your time like death row in reverse.

But again, there are magical distractions. Laurel and Hardy-esque droids replay silly synchronized skits every five minutes. Beloved chromatic characters interact with you frequently at various points during your wait. Pops, buzzes, chirps and steaming vents surround you.

Then you’re there — you’re about to board the space ship you’ve waited so long for, the three-minute thrill ride you waited three hours to experience. That’s the payoff. The waiting didn’t have to be a painful means to an end. The waiting was worth the end. And you’ll do it all over again.

Of course I’m talking about Disneyland’s Star Tours, which I experienced for the first time back in the early 1990’s, many years before I had children. Star Wars was an immensely impactful coming-of-age story universe and brand for me. I have been a huge fan to date, regardless of “The Phantom Menace” (wink and a smile). Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and the future production of new Star Wars stories will give my youngs daughters and millions of other children a new generation of inspirational legend and lore.

Now, if only that were true in the world of work. If only we felt that passionate about certain employment brands (okay, Facebook and Google, but still), where waiting in line was the means to a fabulous end — an inspirational and fulfilling job — or at least the developing and working towards that fulfilling job. Waiting in line is never fun, and waiting in the metaphorical line when applying for a job online, as well as waiting to receive acknowledgement and closure, can be annoying as all hell, no matter how long you’ve been in the job market.

Some progressive companies have improved their “queuing” candidate experience and these are the companies who’ve won the Candidate Experience Awards during the past two years. The CandE Awards is annual competition process where 1) Employers have the opportunity to benchmark their candidate experience against that of other companies, and 2) Employers have the opportunity to participate in a third-party survey of their employment candidates to see what their candidates really think of their process.

council_member_badge2Not only am I honored to be volunteering on the CandE Award Candidate Experience Council this year (the 2013 survey research phase will kick-off soon), I’ve also been a candidate of late myself. Not in the usual mainstream sense of applying online for jobs, but still a candidate nonetheless. I’m excited to be part of a movement that’s elevating the candidate experience for both applicant and employer in all phases beyond the hire (because we’re all life-long candidates), but also transitioning it a universal customer experience — the employer as buyer, and the candidate as buyer. Not to mention the fact that literally a candidate could become a consumer and/or B2B customer at any given time. This is the global economy in the truest sense of the term.

Back to the “waiting in line” experience. According to 2012 CandE Awards results (which you can download here):

The theoretical ‘black hole,’ where no status or notification is ever given, is a decreasing practice among firms that competed for the 2012 CandEs.

That’s the good news. However, according to the same 2012 results:

  • Just one-third of participating employers said they asked candidates for feedback if they were not advanced to the final evaluation phase, suggesting there are still meaningful opportunities to better understand their processes and the impact that they have on the candidate experience.
  • The vast majority (90.5 percent) of candidates said they were not asked to provide any feedback once notified they were no longer being considered.

These are missed opportunities, but that’s the reality, even though talent acquisition/management and social tech innovations give employers the ability to not only ask for further feedback from prospective employees (and current employees, who are always candidates/customers), but also to:

  • Create open online environs where various individual types in the employment lifecycle can come and go.
  • Learn more about the employer brand, the culture and the growth opportunities.
  • Consume and share relevant professional content with one another while helping each other develop.
  • Learn more about how capabilities development and body-of-work loyalty fuels the world of work.
  • Truly understand the hard and soft skills in context that propel the progressive enterprise forward.

All with a little branded entertainment sprinkled here and there while waiting in the long, long lines. From magical distractions to long-tail development, the candidate experience is the customer experience.

Let’s elevate it together.