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By Larry Alton

Recruiting can be a frustrating process for both potential employers and candidates seeking employment. The longer the process takes, the more off-putting it can be for everyone involved. Often, when a prospect calls the recruiting department, they’ll find that somebody else has filled the position. The recruiters may hold up their end of the job okay from the corporate standpoint, but they’re failing on the candidate side of things.

This is no way to build up your reputation as a quality place of employment.

Here’s How You Can Improve the Candidate Experience

A poor candidate experience doesn’t just frustrate the candidate – it can also have a direct negative impact on your brand.

“Everybody has a network with whom they may share their experience,” executive search consultant Karen Bertiger says. “Employer review sites like are becoming an influential resource for career decisions. More than 60 percent of candidates who have a positive interview experience will not only actively encourage others to apply, but 39 percent of them would be more likely to purchase that company’s product or service. Meanwhile, a third of those who had a negative experience will publicly share that experience as well.”

If you aren’t actively trying to improve the candidate experience, then you’re putting your brand’s reputation on the line.

Something has to change quickly, so here are some ideas:

1. Use a Better Application Process. 

A good candidate experience starts from the very beginning. You need to pay more attention to the application process and how you’re reaching candidates. Make the application easy to fill out and even consider showing them how to complete it with a quick video.

Another good idea is to give individuals an alternative to applying for the job. They may like your company but feel like they’re better off applying for another job in the future. Zappos does this through their Insider Program, which lets candidates stay connected without being officially “tied” to a particular job.

2. Respect Every Candidate

You’ll get your fair share of candidates who aren’t qualified or right for the job. Sometimes you’ll know it as soon as they step into your office. And while you can’t offer every candidate a job, you can offer every person respect. It doesn’t cost a thing to be respectful and your diligence in this area will pay dividends for the reputation of your business.

3. Enhance Professionalism of Communication

Edited copy: No matter the outcome of the selection process, a lack of prompt and appropriate communication can cause friction. If a candidate is passed over, a polite confirmation via a quick phone call will resonate better than an email or no closure at all.

Don’t wait months to do it and certainly don’t do it over email.

“I believe strongly that either the hiring manager or the HR staff should call the applicants you are rejecting just as you call the applicant to whom you want to make the job offer – if not sooner,” says expert Susan Heathfield. “You want to leave each applicant with a positive view of your organization which simple, timely communication will achieve. This positive impression may affect your candidate’s application to your organization in the future.”

4. Follow Up With Past Candidates

If you really want to make a positive impression on candidates, even well past the initial experience, you can make it a point to follow up with past candidates via a drip campaign. An email that says something as simple as this may work:

“Derek, We enjoyed meeting you six months ago when you applied for a position in our marketing department. While we weren’t able to extend the job to you at the time, we thought you might like to know that there’s a new opening for our Director of Social Media Strategy position. We already have all of your previous application information on file, so all you have to do is let us know if you’re interested and we would love to set up an interview.”

Something as simple as this allows you to follow up with past candidates that you liked, which saves time on your end and strengthens your reputation in the eyes of candidates who were denied past openings.

Your Reputation is on the Line

Your reputation depends on how all your employees feel about you – both present and past. Their experience begins with the first contact made during the hiring process. Past candidates who don’t feel like they were treated properly in the hiring process can damage your brand’s reputation – both online and in their own personal circles. It’s time to improve your candidate experience so that even those who are denied feel that they’re valued.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.