By Sterling Wilson, president of Pop! Promos.

I hear it everywhere I turn: There's a war for talent.

Firms across the country -- in industries from construction to cloud computing -- are seeing their growth plans constrained not by customer demand or capital availability, but by their ability to hire and retain enough talent.

In a world where the constraint on your company's growth and the source of your most important competitive advantage is your ability to identify, recruit and retain talent, maybe it's time to think about the candidate's experience with your company's hiring process.

Investing in Your Candidate's Journey As You Would With Your Customer's

The concept of the customer journey has been around for years and is fairly straightforward. Think about the experience of your customer from the first time they hear about your company through when they become a long-time customer.

What contact do they get from your company? What's the frequency, subject, medium and tone of your communication with them? How do those interactions make your customer feel about your company?

Examining your candidate journey is a similar process: What is your candidate's experience from first seeing your job opening to phone screenings, assessments, interviews, and finally, the job-offer stage?

As you walk through this process in your candidate's shoes, you'll start to ask some key questions:

  1. Are you offering a clear process from the first contact to the hiring stage so he or she can plan accordingly?
  2. Are you keeping your candidate up-to-date throughout the process with their current status?
  3. Are you giving the candidate a clear picture of your company culture and expectations?
  4. Have you given the candidate ample opportunity to ask questions of people at multiple positions within the company?

Applying the same diligence and thought to the candidate's journey as you do with your customer's journey is likely to reveal some weak spots in your current process. Maybe your candidates don't hear anything back for a week between interview rounds, or maybe you don't clearly explain the interview process to the candidate.

Don't forget to think about those candidates who are dismissed somewhere along your interview process. They are sure to make their opinions about your hiring process heard on job sites such as

This focus on candidate journey is especially potent if you're hiring millennials who routinely say that they value workplace culture, regular feedback and clear communication over factors like high-flying titles or even raises. Focusing on your communication with candidates and their experience of your company will reduce attrition of candidates through your process and increase the percentage of candidates who accept your eventual job offers.

Making Room for Improvement

We recently studied our candidate journey at my company, Pop! Promos, and made major changes to our hiring process. Our discoveries included candidates who were surprised to find out they were taking a test at the beginning of their first interview, were having trouble finding our office, and were not hearing back about the results of their interview for over a week.

Needless to say, we have room for improvement. As a young company with a primary focus on servicing our customers with exceptional products and service, we have relentlessly focused on improving our customer experience and would be distraught to realize that a customer visiting our office couldn't find us easily, or that a customer didn't hear back from our team for over a week after a meeting.

Now that we've built a reputation for creativity and quality in our industry and enjoy a loyal and growing customer base, our primary challenge has shifted from acquiring customers to recruiting talent, and we need to apply the same diligence and standards that drove our sales growth to our hiring process.

Sterling Wilson is president of Pop! Promos, the U.S. market leader in PMS matched branded merchandise.