As a company, I’m sure you are working hard to create positive relationships with all of your customers. We all know how important it is for future business and possible referrals. You might even be making a huge investment by engaging a public relations or marketing firm to assist with your market positioning. Did you ever consider that your applicants are customers too?

Are you giving applicants the same respect and creating a positive experience for them during your application and interview process?

According to a recent Gallup Panel Survey, too often the answer was no. In fact, half of job applicants who mention specific frustrations say these aggravations give them pause when considering the possibility of working for these prospective employers.

The survey asked a targeted sample of job seekers a series of questions about various aspects of their search for employment, including the parts of the process they deem most frustrating. The sample consisted of those who are currently unemployed and seeking a job as well as those who are currently employed full time or part time and have searched for employment in the past six months. These prospective candidates shared their frustrations about their interactions with possible employers, aggravations that can lead job seekers to form negative opinions about these organizations and their brands.

If you’ve searched for a new job recently, you know that the task can be overwhelming—especially in an employer’s market, where there is an abundance of applicants applying for the same job. Results of a bad job search or continuous poor interviews can actually destroy an applicant’s confidence and cause feelings of despair. If you examine your current communications with interested applicants or candidate’s you’ve actually interviewed, can you confidently say your company is creating a positive image and building positive relationships with your applicants? Do they wait months to hear back from you, if at all? Do you send them a response when they initially apply and let them know the next steps in your process? Do you let them know early on in the process when they don’t meet your minimum requirements so they aren’t holding on to false hopes that they are being considered? What do you think these applicants are saying about you to their colleagues and other professionals in the market?

One simple solution to building a more positive image with applicants is to improve your communication and follow up. It takes so little time and can go a long way to create good will and enhance your reputation as an employer of choice or a great place to work. The most common reason we don’t communicate enough with our applicants is we’re just too busy to respond promptly to everyone who applies or interviews with our company, especially if we don’t consider them appropriate prospects.

A good applicant tracking system can totally automate the process for you eliminating the lack of time and limited resource challenges all recruiters face during their hiring process. Ideally, you can create email templates in your system and trigger them to be sent at certain critical stages of your process — when an application is received or rejected, requests for available dates and times for phone screens and interviews, or a request for more information. Keeping your applicant informed about where they are in your process will eliminate telephone inquiries, which you definitely don’t have time for, and will create a much more positive experience for your applicants. Remember, applicants are customers too and they’re impression of you as an employer can either enhance or hurt your reputation.