The unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, meaning most top-performing employees are already gainfully employed. And today's job seekers have countless job opportunities at the tips of their fingers -- through job boards, social media and other channels -- making the job market even more competitive for employers.

To build your best team, you need to sell top talent on the opportunity of working for your company, similar to how you sell customers the benefits of your products or services. Otherwise, you'll risk losing job seekers to the competition and, as a result, see a decrease in productivity and profitability.

Here are a few tips to get started treating job applicants like customers.

Build a strong employment brand.

The job applicant experience begins when prospective applicants research your company to see if any open roles would be a fit for their background, skills and career goals. And a strong employment brand can help you stand out from the competition and attract top candidates -- just as your overall brand can help you attract and retain customers.

To build a strong employment brand, highlight the benefits your team has to offer -- including vacation time, professional development budget, learning opportunities, and more. Also build out career paths on your career site, so prospective employees can imagine their growth from entry level to management positions. And continuously share engaging content -- such as videos, photos and employee testimonials, to get potential applicants excited about the possibility of working for your business.

Respond to applicants quickly.

Many businesses wait more than a week to simply review and respond to a new job applicant. You wouldn't let a customer lead go unanswered for more than a week would you? If your business took too long to respond to customer leads, chances are you wouldn't make many sales. 

Applicants who are reviewed and acted upon quickly are more likely to be hired. Responding to applicants as soon as possible can help ensure strong candidates stay engaged and excited about the the possibility of joining your team. If you leave applicants waiting around for a response, you'll lose qualified candidates to other job opportunities - and even your competitors.

Keep candidates engaged.

Once applicants have been reviewed, it's critical for your team to communicate with candidates throughout the entire hiring process, just as you'd regularly communicate with a customer to close a sale. If you're in the process of scheduling interviews and can't find time in a team member's schedule for a few days or a week, reach out to the candidate instead of leaving them waiting and wondering when the interview will be confirmed. And if it's taking longer than expected to receive background checks back from a candidate, reach out to check on the status or see if there's anything you can do to help.

Continuous candidate engagement can be streamlined through communication as simple as text messaging. Emails, such as those your hiring team sends to schedule interviews, can often be overlooked in a crowded inbox. And job seekers demand more convenient ways to communicate with employers. Nearly 90 percent of people agree that it would be beneficial to receive text messages during the job application process.

By keeping candidates engaged throughout each step of the hiring process, you can ensure top talent feels valued and stays interested in joining your team.

Collect candidate feedback.

Your customers likely often leave reviews on Yelp and other platforms, while job candidates and employees leave reviews on Glassdoor. Beyond staying on top of the latest Glassdoor reviews, your team should proactively collect feedback from job seekers, so you can continue improving your hiring process and job applicant experience.

Recent data found that 78 percent of job seekers indicate they've never been asked for feedback on the candidate experience, and only 25 percent of employers regularly request feedback from candidates. But by collecting candidate feedback, and acting upon the feedback, your business attract more quality applicants and eventual hires down the road. And another benefit of collecting feedback is that you can build relationships with candidates and new employees.

The low unemployment rate and abundance of job opportunities will continue being a challenge for employers. By treating job applicants like customers, you can stand out as a top employers and secure top talent.

Published on: Oct 4, 2018