There's a reason it takes the average U.S. company 52 days to fill a job opening: Good talent can be hard to come by. In fact, in 2016, 46% of U.S. employers struggled to fill jobs, according to a recent ManpowerGroup survey.

Whether you have a single opening on your team or need several more hands on deck, hiring new employees isn't a simple matter of browsing resumes and going through the motions of the interview process. Rather, you'll need to put in some effort before those applications start rolling in to ensure that you wind up with the right audience, and then follow up with a strong effort once those interviews are in full swing. Here are a few specific goals to target.

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1. Make the work sound interesting

It might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but it's easy to get so caught up in developing a job description that you take all the fun and excitement out of the role. Sure, you might need someone to come in and crunch numbers, but rather than limit yourself to a few boring line items, try jazzing up the role and emphasizing the long-term career opportunities. Nobody likes the idea of sitting at a computer staring at spreadsheets all day, but if the job involves coming up with creative accounting solutions or implementing new financial management systems, say so.

If you're not sure whether you're doing a good job of enticing the right candidates, take a step back, read the job description yourself, and ask whether it's the sort of thing that would prompt you to submit an application. If not, then you'll need to keep at it. And if producing an appealing job listing isn't your strong suit, enlist the help of a colleague (say, an internal copywriter) who might be better at it.

2. Offer great benefits on top of a strong salary

Though you may not reach the point where you're discussing salary until you're well into the interview process, candidates typically need some insight on compensation before applying for jobs. That's why it's helpful to do your research, see what the going rate is in your area for the job title you're advertising, and include a salary range in your listing. Sites like Glassdoor offer a wealth of salary information, so you can access that data for guidance.

But prospective hires want to see more than just numbers; they also want to be enticed with generous benefits that lend to a positive work experience on a whole. That's why it helps to give your business an edge by offering perks that most companies don't. You might, for example, implement an unlimited vacation policy -- employees who value downtime and travel will be drawn to the idea of potentially snagging extra time off. Similarly, you might advertise a flexible scheduling model, where workers are given more leeway to choose their own hours.

3. Emphasize upward mobility

A strong candidate who's applying for an entry-level role can't expect to become a company leader within two years' time. On the other hand, employees tend to thrive on hope, and so if you make it clear during the interview process that there's room for growth within your company, you're more likely to attract motivated workers who want to succeed.

Now this isn't to say that you should mislead prospective hires in any way. Making false promises won't do you any good. But if your company is growing, and there are exciting opportunities on the horizon, let that be known. Furthermore, offer concrete suggestions for how potential employees might get there so that things seem more tangible. For example, if you tell someone applying for a junior IT position that learning three specific programs will most likely result in a promotion, that's a realistic goal to work toward.

4. Make the interview process efficient

The interview process takes 23.8 days, on average, in the U.S., and while that's not necessarily unreasonable, it never hurts to work on shortening that span -- for your company's sake as well as that of the prospective hires you speak with. Think about it: If you interview a solid candidate but then leave him hanging for several days while you line up a follow-up interview or get your ducks in a row, there's a good chance another company will jump in and snatch him up.

Furthermore, an efficient interview process sends the message that you value your employees. If a candidate feels that your company is respectful of his time, he'll be more likely to accept an offer should you choose to make one.

Attracting talent isn't easy, but there's much to be gained by hiring the best people for whatever job or jobs you're putting out there. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll be well on your way to onboarding employees who will serve your business well.

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