aquadiceOn a plane bound for Boston and corporate training with my new employer Peoplefluent, I’m reading the chapter in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In where she discusses social science’s “bias blind spots,” and how the more our bias actually rears its ugly when we think we’re truly being objective in activities like recruiting and hiring new employees and reviewing their job performance.. During this reading time, my attention is periodically drawn away to the little TV monitor on the back of the seat in front of me where New York Times arts and entertainment news shorts stream in a perpetual loop.

One in particular completely captivates me. (Note that I’m not listening to the broadcast, only watching it. Sure, I could’ve turned it off, but what I see is fascinating.)

There’s an artist who creates two giant bright orange dice with the dots on each from one to six in vivid blue. The story is all about the artist’s dice creation and ultimate launch into the ocean. While I watch them bob gentling atop the sea’s surface, words on the screen’s surface tell me these dice are now traveling somewhere in the North Atlantic about sixty miles apart.

I considered them briefly as a metaphor taking a well if not overly and elaborately designed chance in what seems an overwhelming sea of doubt. Why not? We gamble on and with our ideas and our biases every day in our personal and professionally lives that are ultimately intertwined and intricately bound to one another like strands of mutating DNA.

Consider the job candidate experience today – five generations of gender, ethnic, cultural, skills and experience diversity clamoring for full-time, part-time and increasing freelance/contract employment in this new world of evolving project-based, collaborative work. Overall unemployment is still quite high when compared to previous recessional rebounds, not counting those who have outright given up on their searches, and even more alarmingly is how youth unemployment globally has increased dramatically. Matching qualified candidates to skills-based work continues to elude employers as well, adding to the continued chaos.

How do you think your candidate experience fares today and how does it affect retention and your brand? How do you think your organization compares with its immediate competitors as well as other industries? Are you ensuring basic acknowledgement and closure with any and all applicants who apply for your open positions, even contract work? What happens to all the unqualified candidates who may be just what you need in six months? What are you doing right, if anything? And how are you benchmarking to know?

According to the latest Candidate Experience Awards results, also known as the CandE Awards (you can download the latest results here):

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

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.
  • More than half of candidates surveyed indicated they are likely or very likely to tell their inner circle of friends about their experiences, whether it is positive (73.5 percent) or negative (60.7 percent).

As an employer clamoring for finite experienced individuals and specific skill sets, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve your recruiting processes and your brand if you’re not addressing your candidate experience. One place to start is with the CandE Awards.

The annual program gives employers the opportunity to benchmark their candidate experience against that of other companies, and 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.

Don’t assume you know how badly your candidate experience stinks just because of biased anecdotal information, or maybe a few smaller candidate surveys here and there (even if there are discrimination legalities you’ve had to alleviate for the better). More importantly, don’t assume there’s nothing you can do about it if it does truly stink. Learning from your industry peers about how they’re improving it with better processes and technologies can and will be invaluable for you as you compete in talent’s new world order.

Go ahead and roll your big and gaudy candidate experience dice on the open employment sea and apply for the 2013 CandE Awards today. You have nothing to lose; it’s confidential and it’s free. Your bias and your organizational reality may be miles apart now, but with a little unbiased insight, you may just find the competitive advantage you didn’t even know you missed.