What a candidate experiences while pursuing a role with a company used to be somewhat of an afterthought. Things like time-consuming application forms, confusing job descriptions, overly long interviews and haphazard communications didn’t seem to matter much in the past (excepting anything egregious).

But savvy employers saw an opportunity to better attract top talent and focused more on giving job seekers a friendly and efficient journey through the recruiting process. It caught on with candidates, and now providing a lesser experience can cost you the people you most want to hire.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many people reconsider what they want in a job — and an employer — putting even greater weight on ensuring a frictionless, positive candidate experience from initial contact to job offer.

To boost your hiring efforts, you need a candidate-centric approach in which potential employees are treated with the same care as existing staff and customers. Here are some simple tips for wooing top talent today.

Build up your employer brand

To make your firm stand out as an excellent workplace, you need a clear company identity that job seekers can relate to. Everything from flexible work policies and professional development offerings to your office culture and efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion help build your reputation as an employer.

When assessing a role at an organization, candidates don’t just consider the starting salary. They want to know what it feels like to work there, how teams operate and whether a company’s mission, values and culture align with their own. Think of your employer brand as a selling point to candidates: that you offer an environment that people want to work in and where they can thrive.

Make it easy — and enjoyable — to apply

Even before the pandemic, many firms were adopting digital processes to make recruiting more efficient. Job marketing software and applicant tracking systems let companies process applications and schedule interviews quickly.

However, while automation is great for HR teams, it doesn’t necessarily appeal to candidates. Algorithms alone won’t make your job posting stand out from the crowd. To do that, consider linking to a short video tour of the office or adding a few employee testimonials.

To keep candidates engaged during the application process, HR managers should try to ensure that every step is straightforward, with timely correspondence setting out the next steps — and follow through on those next steps. Avoid stringing people along (also known as breadcrumbing) — 43% of candidates say they lose interest in a position if they don’t hear back from hiring managers within two weeks of an interview. The most talented candidates may be considering multiple offers, so streamlining the hiring process is a way of showing them that you value their time as well as their skills.

Set up candidates for a successful interview

The best interview experience is one that even unsuccessful candidates will regard positively. You want people who just missed the cut this time around to feel good about applying for another position at your firm.

To achieve this, be transparent about how you will run the interview process, and send helpful resources in advance to help applicants prepare. Recognize that candidates, like employees, have different needs, including childcare and other responsibilities. By showing flexibility around interview times, you can remove unnecessary stress from the candidate experience.

Be transparent about salary

Some firms are cagey about specifying salary, but this can hurt them when it comes to the candidate experience. Vagueness about pay can convey the idea that you’re keeping your cards close to your chest to protect your bargaining position. You may also be narrowing the talent pool — some candidates may simply ignore your job posting in favor of ones that clearly state compensation ranges.

By disclosing a salary range upfront, firms not only encourage applications from suitable candidates, they also demonstrate that they’re committed to openness, setting the tone for a trusting relationship.

Check your salary range with the projected starting salaries for 500-plus positions in the latest Robert Half Salary Guide.

Prepare a smooth onboarding process

Efforts to make a good impression shouldn’t stop once a job offer is accepted. The first few weeks and months in a role have a lasting impact. Get things off to a good start by sending the successful candidate a personalized message of congratulations. Follow this up with a welcome on social media, a surprise gift with their laptop or an online social event to introduce new hires to the team. Successful onboarding can make a big difference in morale and help recruits feel valued.

The candidate experience is your first chance to show job seekers how much you value your employees. If you don’t do all you can to make their hiring journey a good one, you may inadvertently send the wrong message — which can be detrimental in an age when candidates aren’t afraid to reject potential employers who don’t live up to their standards.