By Mark Wilding, director at RMG

In business, reputation is everything. Now that technology has made word of mouth recommendations — or disparaging comments — more quickly and openly available than ever, companies are beginning to wake up to the fact that they need to keep their customers as happy and as well informed as possible.

However, many businesses forget that their recruitment process has a huge impact on the picture people build of them as an employer and as a brand. Attracting the best people is more important than ever in our knowledge-based economy, and the only way to do that is to aim for a position as the employer of choice within your industry.

Here is a guide to getting your recruitment process right:

Choosing a partner

The exercise starts at the very beginning of the process when you select your recruitment partner. This should be a consultancy that knows your business and your brand intimately, and who you feel can position your organisation most effectively in the marketplace.

This means that a “machine gun” approach will not work for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is well nigh impossible for multiple providers to send out a consistent message. Secondly, you will find it difficult to build the closeness of relationship you need to get the most out of your recruitment. And finally, if you have a number of companies approaching the same talent pool — as will often happen for senior or niche positions — your business will come across as desperate rather than desirable.

Company benefits

Once you have selected your recruitment partner, make sure they are aware of all the value added benefits of working for your company so that they are fully informed of the objective reasons why a candidate should choose you above your competitors. At every point of contact, from advertisement to final interview, highlight all the things that make your business a great place to work — from training and development to pension plans, and from flexible working to softer benefits.

Candidate engagement

Always remember that candidates talk, and that everyone who engages with a company should receive a positive impression — if you fail to treat a candidate well, it can only damage your brand. When candidates come in for interview, the interviewers should be fully briefed, and know how to position your company. Wherever possible, select people who are able to express their enthusiasm for the business and transfer that to the candidates from the moment they walk into reception until they leave.

Managing feedback

Even those candidates that are unsuccessful should be kept on side. First and foremost, they will undoubtedly communicate a bad experience into the marketplace. However, on many occasions a candidate who is currently short on skills might come back in a few years and have vastly improved on areas where they were previously poorly qualified. What is more, you can never be sure who you will meet further down the line in business. The candidate you reject today without a word of feedback might be making the decisions on the board of one of your biggest clients later.

Make sure you give every candidate detailed, constructive feedback that clearly explains why they were not selected and how they can improve. This will clearly demonstrate your commitment to your people and your understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses, and stop a disgruntled interviewee leaving a blemish on your reputation.