As the end of the year approaches, 2019 marks the eleventh straight year with declining unemployment. And the historically-low unemployment makes hiring challenging for employers across industries -- as there are currently more open roles on the market than available job seekers to fill them. 

Given the tight labor market, the last thing you want is to capture the attention of job seekers, only to lose qualified applicants because you have an inefficient hiring process. 

According to a new study from Zety, a resume builder and career website, 50 percent of job seekers surveyed indicated that the top factor in considering a job offer is the overall application and interview experience. If job seekers face a poor hiring experience, they're less likely to accept the job offer. For the study, 1,010 U.S. employees were asked about their experiences and expectations for the recruitment process. 

What can your organization do to keep job seekers engaged and excited throughout the hiring process? I've highlighted some key tips below. 

1. Simplify the application experience. 

The study from Zety found that employers with a long online screening or application process -- especially those requiring more than 45 questions to be answered -- can lose up to 89 percent of prospective candidates before they even apply. It's critical for your team to have a simple application process in place, then you can always ask candidates more detailed questions during the interview stage. 

The study also found that contrary to what most employers think, long job applications don't necessarily weed out unqualified candidates. Rather, candidates who might not be a fit but are desperate to find a new role will take the time to fill out the application. On the other hand, experience, qualified job seekers know they can forego complex job applications and easily find other opportunities. 

If your job applications are too long, job seekers won't hesitate to accept offers from other employers with simpler applications instead. All you really need to require on an initial application is general contact and background information. Keep applications simple -- at my organization, we only require job seekers to include their name, email address, telephone number and resume, with an option to add a cover letter explaining their interest.

2. Outline each step of the hiring process. 

Make sure prospective candidates understand what to expect from your hiring process from the very beginning. Starting with your job descriptions and on your careers page, highlight each step candidates will need to complete along the way. 

Steps in your hiring process might include a prescreen survey once the application is submitted to gauge applicants' qualifications, a phone interview, a few in-person interviews, and background and reference checks. 

At my company of more than 200 employees, in each of our job descriptions, we include a section that answers the question, "What can you expect after you apply" and outlines each step of the hiring process, from the initial screening survey through a final interview with a member of the leadership team. Applicants have told us in the past that they appreciate this transparency into the hiring process up front. 

If candidates make it past the initial application step, reiterate your hiring process during the initial phone interview. This way, candidates won't face any surprises and will have a better understanding of what's coming next.

3. Stay in touch with candidates. 

Even if candidates learn about each step of your hiring process up front, it's still important to communicate with them each step of the way. Otherwise, they might think your team isn't interested in moving forward or assume your hiring process is disorganized. 

For example, once a candidate completes the interview stage, let the candidate know when they can expect to hear back -- whether or not you think your team will move forward with hiring steps.

Another study from Addison Group, a staffing agency, surveyed more than 1,000 job seekers. The study found that 70 percent of job seekers lose interest in open roles if they don't hear back within one week of an interview. 

By regularly communicating with candidates via phone, email or text messaging, you can keep them engaged and interested in joining your team. 

With the competitive hiring market, employers must put in extra effort not only to attract prospective applicants, but also support a seamless hiring process. By following the tips outlined above, you can ensure you don't lose top talent as a result of a poor application and hiring experience.