Like a picture, hiring has a frame, and even if you're not seeing it that way, your prospective employees are. The mechanics of the hiring process are just one feature (albeit an essential one) of a whole setting and process that they experience--and that you can hone to valuable effect. Let's take the big steps in sequence.

Consider where candidates see your jobs

First, think about how candidates can learn about the open positions at your company. If it's through the careers portion of your site, ask yourself: is that webpage up to date, easy to use, and (accurately) flattering to your brand and your employees? Although candidates often appreciate a certain elegant minimalism in the way career-related information is presented--up front, they usually don't want to spend all day sifting through a ton of detail--there's plenty more to offer them than bare-bones job openings. Here, the candidate experience is improved with well-curated content around the way your company works. What's your mission? What are your core values? Has your company won any significant HR awards? How does your office look on the job--and what do a candidate's future co-workers look like? You could even add a few lines on training, development, and future opportunities. Then, look beyond your careers page. Are the other places your jobs are posted easy to find and easy on the eyes--especially on mobile? If they are, and if you know how candidates who aren't actively looking for a new gig can find out about your openings, you're off to a great start.

Look at your job application

Second, take a peek at your application process itself. At this stage, a great candidate experience typically involves a mobile-optimized, user-friendly application, with required information kept to a reasonable minimum and low-friction, intuitive inputs for the details you want from a candidate. These features are particularly key if simplicity, innovation, style, and similar attributes are central to your brand identity. If so, a cumbersome, complex application process can be a huge turn-off. (Research shows that over 60 percent of candidates drop off during the online application process because of lengthy and cumbersome forms.) Consider whether you can build in simple, effective elements that let your candidates showcase their personalities or add a more human touch, like video.

Think about your screening process

Third, you'll want to envision how candidates move (hopefully seamlessly) on to the next big steps after submitting their applications. The first of these should be a no-brainer, but that means you should be absolutely sure: every application gets an answer, right? Even if it's a no, candidates want to know, instead of just being left hanging. Next, that answer should be reasonably prompt. The top candidates you want have a host of choices. If you get back to them slowly, it may already be too late to snap them up. Of course, the way you follow up has taken on increased significance too. Those high-performing millennials don't want your response disappearing into their inbox or hiding out in an in-app message--they often want the news right where they can quickly see it and react, via text or chat. What's more, even timely well-directed communications have to get to the point: scheduling an interview. Don't chat so much with your candidates that their experience at this stage becomes ponderous or gimmicky. That means the more streamlined the interview process is on your end, the better. Although some hiring is inescapably collaborative, your team should be well-aligned at this step to avoid wasting candidates' time with duplicative back-and-forth.

Onboarding is part of the experience too

Last but not least comes onboarding a new hire, just as crucial a part of the candidate experience as what's come before. You don't want to fumble on the one yard line. Make sure there's an easy, intuitive way for hires to wrap up final paperwork on the go and get organized for day one. You should even clear administrative space for them to hit the ground comfortably running their first day on the job. Let new hires submit documentation and certifications online, or through whatever system you implement, rather than making them tote these credentials to work.

After running these thought exercises, you should have a pretty solid idea of the work that's cut out for you. But it shouldn't be overwhelming, even if some big elements above are missing at your company. At its best, tackling the challenge is as straightforward, direct, and satisfying as your candidate experience should be.