Optimizing communication with candidates - including those who have been unsuccessful - is very important to your employer brand.

In the 21st-century world of work, it's becoming increasingly important for businesses to think about their employer brand and how it is perceived by candidates.

With skills shortages posing a threat to various industries and competition for talented, experienced professionals fiercer than ever, brand perception could be the difference between success and failure in recruitment.

Various components must come together to create a strong employer brand, one of the most important of which is communication with candidates.

brand power

Businesses have long understood the value of a strong brand for sales, marketing and customer relationships. In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that a powerful employer brand is equally valuable in recruitment, with well-regarded organizations having a vital advantage over competitors in the race to acquire the best candidates.

Fundamentals such as salary and benefits will always be key considerations for employees, of course, but professionals with widely sought-after skills and experience are paying more and more attention to any prospective employer's brand and reputation.

Randstad provides insights into this trend in the 2019 Employer Brand Research report, which illustrates just how important it is for organizations to think about how they are perceived by candidates.

Work-life balance, company culture, environmental awareness and social responsibility are all important elements of an employer's brand.

Another factor that must not be overlooked is communication in recruitment, and not only with those individuals who have succeeded in getting past the first stage of the application process.

why communication is key

Standards of communication during the recruitment process can make a major contribution to perceptions of your employer brand. This is just as relevant for unsuccessful candidates as for those who are invited in for an interview or further assessment.

Someone who has submitted an unsuccessful application will inevitably be disappointed, but this could be exacerbated if they are ignored entirely, without even a confirmation that their application has been received or that they have not been successful.

Sending out emails to thank people for their applications and inform them they have been unsuccessful will make a positive difference to brand perceptions, increasing the likelihood of those individuals putting themselves forward for different roles with your firm in the future.

If someone comes away from a job application with a negative view of your company, there is a strong likelihood they will share their bad experience with others.

For candidates who succeed in passing the first stage of the hiring process, good communication is essential to keep them informed and manage their expectations at every step along the way.

Attractive applicants who feel they have been well supported and kept up to date with each stage of the recruitment journey will feel more positive in accepting an offer of employment, and less tempted to take their valuable skills elsewhere.

technologies to optimize communication

Modern technology offers seemingly unlimited potential to improve various areas of how businesses operate, including communication in the recruitment process.

Speaking to Digital HR Tech, Suzanne Lucas, an HR speaker and writer, identified solutions to improve interaction between recruiters and candidates as one of the areas of technological innovation she is most excited about at the moment.

She criticized the common business habit of failing to give feedback to candidates after initial applications or interviews, describing it as "rude and awful, and bad marketing for your company".

"People are starting to realize this and as a result, they're developing technology that makes it easier for recruiters to get back and easier for candidates to track where they are in the process," Ms Lucas added.

"If you can have a candidate track where they are by themselves, it's no extra work for the recruiter, but it makes the candidate experience so much better, and it's good PR for your company."

She also pointed out that HR and hiring professionals are "public relations people, first and foremost", and commonly speak to more contacts than sales teams do.

It's also vital for employers today to make the most of the engagement opportunities available in the mobile channel. With so much job search activity now taking place on smartphones, your organization must ensure it is present in this space and recognizing candidates' preferences by enabling mobile applications.

The same goes for social media. While LinkedIn is rightly seen as the primary avenue for building contacts and identifying possible hires, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also offer great potential for engaging with people and showcasing your company culture.

By meeting people in their favored channels and taking every opportunity to engage - not only with those actively seeking new opportunities but passive candidates, as well - your business can optimize its communication, enhance its brand and recruit for the future.