Do you think of your candidate experience as a touchpoint for your brand? Do you treat your applicants today as if they might one day be your customers? You should. Some 90% of candidates who feel that they were treated with courtesy and a personal touch say they would encourage others to join the company, while another significant number of job candidates say their experience during the hiring process, whether positive or negative, impacted their decision to actually take a position if it's offered.

Your brand image creates expectations. It defines who you are, how you operate, and how you're different from your competitors. In essence, your brand image is a promise - a promise that must be fulfilled - beginning with job candidates.

"How your employment brand is presented to job seekers from the moment a job is posted can have a lasting effect not only on your ability to acquire talent, but your business overall.”

"How your employment brand is presented to job seekers from the moment a job is posted can have a lasting effect not only on your ability to acquire talent, but your business overall,” said Sanja Licina, Ph.D. and Senior Director of Talent Intelligence at CareerBuilder.

However, studies show a lot of companies fall short in this area. In a survey, 46% of candidates rate their experience as poor or very poor.

Results from a CareerBuilder Applicant Experience study of more than 800,000 workers nationwide, shows 15% of job candidates report having a worse opinion of the employer after they were contacted for an interview.

And according to a HireRight survey, only 5% of candidates rate their experience as excellent.

Fortunately, there is help, in the form of software.

"TempWorks Applicant Center does right both for employer and job applicant," says David Dourgarian, president and CEO of TempWorks. "It’s based on a flexible survey system that respects everyone’s time and can be made to fit any industry or job type."

Bill Peppler is managing partner of fast-growing Florida-based Kavaliro Staffing Services, and a TempWorks customer. He says for starters, you have to make it easy for the candidates.

“If you want to reach your candidates anytime, anywhere, and have them be able to get back to you at their convenience, there is only one way to do that,” says Peppler. “Some 70% of the traffic coming to employment sites these days is via mobile.”

Some 70% of the traffic coming to employment sites these days is via mobile, and your candidates can access TempWorks Applicant Center anywhere.

Applicants can access TempWorks Applicant Center anywhere, from in-house kiosks to their mobile devices and everything in between. The wizard allows professional and industrial candidates alike to easily navigate through tasks, even in Spanish.

Another TempWorks customer says he has used other online apps before, but "nothing offered the speed and integration of TempWorks." He says he is "the easy guy to do business with," and that gives him a definite advantage over the competition.

And when you're ready to hire, TempWorks Applicant Center creates and stores I9s, W4s, and any other forms your company needs for paperless applicant and employee onboarding.

Have an existing applicant and onboarding process? That's no problem according to Dourgarian.

"We create software that builds on your previous systems seamlessly, so much so that even the color scheme can be adjusted to fit your company."

So what can companies do, beyond software applications, to improve this critical process?

Communicate early and often to your candidates. Keeping candidates in the loop will win friends and create brand champions every time.

Focus on what matters most to your candidates. Job descriptions and other information about your company are most often written from the hiring organization's perspective, not that of the job seeker. Flip that around and think about what they are most interested in, be it training, advancement opportunities, work-life balance, interesting assignments, etc., and highlight those things. Job candidates are told all the time they have to do a good (better) job marketing themselves. Hiring companies have to do the same. Sell the job req and the company.

Make sure your hiring managers are at the top of their game. Your hiring managers are also ambassadors of your brand. Do you put them through practice interviews and role playing and give them ongoing training so they are the best representatives they can be? Do you solicit feedback from applicants on how you are doing?

Check your tech. When was the last time you went through the links on your company career page, online job sites, social media pages, etc., to make sure it's all live and leading to the places it should? It's worth doing if it's been a while. If a candidate feels like they are wasting their time in any way, they'll likely quickly check out and an opportunity may be lost.

Hiring and retaining talent is likely your number one business challenge, and it's vital to get that first step right. So treat your candidates as if your business depends on it. Because it does.

Tags: Careerbuilder, TempWorks, Staffing Software, Hiring process, Hiring, Applicant Portal, Industry, Candidate experience, Brand touchpoints, Employment brand, HireRight, Kavaliro, Mystery Applicant, Applicant process, Brand image, TempWorks Applicant Center