As most candidates’ job application journeys now begin with a search engine, there is a huge amount of potential for businesses in trying to build relationships with potential employees before they even think about applying.

The 2017 Talent Board North American Candidate Experience Awards Research Report found that in the region, 49 percent of candidates already had some sort of relationship with an employer - whether that’s following the company or being a customer.

Here are some easy steps to ensure you are creating the right foundation for a relationship before candidates click to apply.

get valuable content out there

Candidates want to know about the experience your current employees have while working at your company so you need to offer them this information.

According to Undercover Recruiter, the biggest challenge for UK content marketers is creating engaging content. Although your company will need to think like a content marketer in order to provide compelling and engaging content, you have everything you need to create the assets people are looking for. This is because you have a defined audience (potential applicants), a clear goal (convincing people they want to work with you) and you know what information your readers want (insight into what it’s like at your company).

The most recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report found that candidates want to hear from current employees. They want to know what these workers like and dislike most about the job and the company. By providing this information, you’ll be allowing potential candidates to make informed decisions about whether they want to apply to your company. The more informed the candidate, the more likely they are to be serious about pursuing the opportunity you’re offering and the more likely they are to be the right fit.

The LinkedIn report also found that candidates want companies to be honest about turnover and overall vision and strategy. People want to know how your business is going to achieve what it has set out to, so don’t shy away from providing these specifics - within reason of course.

promote your company

Once you’ve got all that great content - whether it’s in the form of blogs, video testimonials or photos of what goes on in the office - you need to work out where to post it for maximum effect.

Social media posting is one of the most valuable ways of promoting your brand. American Express advises posing conversation-starting questions on social media. This approach is also encouraged by LinkedIn, which noted: “Good content adds value to your audience and gives them useful information. It should not be a one-way conversation about your brand.” The aim is to get people interacting with you to raise their interest levels.

You should also think about what forms of content work best on which channels, and post accordingly. For example, video content works particularly well on Twitter and Facebook. According to Twitter, video posts are six times more likely to be retweeted than tweets with photos, while over half a billion people watch videos on Facebook every day.

Social media has the power to reach passive candidates too. Those professionals who might not be actively seeking a new position but still follow your organization on various platforms can be some of the best candidates out there. This is because they’re unlikely to be interviewing with other companies and have little reason to lie or stretch the truth about their experience and skills.

engage with potential applicants

One of the most important things you can do to build up employer brand awareness is to engage with potential applicants. Make sure your organization is coming across as approachable - after all, you want to encourage individuals to become candidates. Maintaining the right tone of voice is essential to helping people work out if they think they’d fit into your company culture.

This can be as simple as launching a Twitter Q&A. You can use this opportunity to gauge candidate sentiment about your company, which will provide important insights into how it is viewed by top talent. Are you highly regarded by the most qualified and skilled candidates out there or do you have work to do? You can establish this through engaging with them.

Polls are also a useful way of working out how professionals feel about your brand and whether they would consider working there. Twitter has advised businesses to “increase engagement by encouraging your audience to share their opinions, thoughts, and views”. This advice can be applied to any careers-based content you choose to post on your social media accounts.

Twitter also encourages using its polls or asking open-ended questions, which can “tap into the collective curiosity of people interested in your space”. This will provide you with insight into the opinions held about your brand. You can then demonstrate that you’re listening by sharing the results with your audience or retweeting answers, according to Twitter.

This will help potential candidates feel that they are being heard and appreciated, which is a vital facet of employer branding. If you can show that you’re an engaging and responsive brand before candidates have even applied to your company, you’ll set it apart from competitors that are not investing in building relationships with potential applicants.