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Putting Your Best Foot Forward to Attract the Right Job Candidates

Often getting through the first step of the job application process is so cumbersome that you lose viable candidates right out of the gate. Here are some remedies for common first impression issues.
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Much like a doctor or an attorney, being the resident HR professional in my peer group lends itself to lots of questions. One of the questions I receive over and over from friends who are business owners or people managers is, "How do I attract a better pool of potential employees?" At the same time, I hear an overwhelming amount of feedback from frustrated job seekers about how poorly they are treated by potential employers.

Just like job candidates should make every attempt to impress their prospective employer, companies need to put their best foot forward in order to attract top-notch candidates. While you, as a company, are evaluating job candidates to be a good fit, a quality candidate will also be evaluating whether your company is the place where they want to work.

How can you present your company in the best light in order to attract top talent? Here are a few tips:

Make a Great First Impression

Often getting through the first step of the job application process is so cumbersome that you lose viable candidates right out of the gate. Here are some remedies for common first impression issues:

  • Make sure your job posting is realistic and accurate. List the job experience, skills and application materials that are truly required in order to be successful and not just those that would be "nice to have." Recently, a friend of mine wanted to apply online for a graphic design job. The hiring company required that he mail a copy of a catalog he designed, along with the source material. Because the source material was considered property of his previous employer, he did not have access to it. As a result, this very talented and qualified designer was unable to apply for this job.

  • Define why someone would want to work for your company. What benefits and perks do you offer?
  • Keep online applications simple and user-friendly. Many applications are so much more trouble than they need to be that candidates give up before submitting them.
  • Set expectations
    If someone from your company tells a candidate they will schedule an interview, schedule it. If something comes up, tell the candidate; do not leave them hanging. If your company has a lengthy interview process, let people know that up front. Most importantly, do not set expectations you cannot meet.

    Be as efficient as possible

    Many of the candidates your company is courting are probably currently working. Think twice before asking a candidate to spend multiple half-days (or whole days) at your office. If they are as committed an employee as you would like them to be, they may have difficulty stepping away from their current duties for a length of time.

    Provide a realistic preview of the job
    Give the candidate a tour of the office and expose them to the work environment. Be honest about their work hours, travel, telecommuting, work area, equipment, etc. If you want them to stick around for the long haul, they need to be well aware of exactly what they're signing on for before they commit.

    Close the loop
    If someone is no longer being considered for the role, tell them. A brief and polite email will suffice. It is unacceptable to ignore a candidate who spent their time applying or interviewing for a job with your company. Social media sites, such as Glassdoor, provide candidates with an outlet to voice their experiences about interviewing with your company. If you make a poor impression, you are not likely to attract a great pool of candidates in the future.

    Future employees deserve to know what they can anticipate in a new role, particularly if they are leaving another company. Companies should strive to hire and retain the best employees. This is in no way an exhaustive list of ways your company can impress potential candidates. Feel free to share some of your ideas.