Many employers target candidates without defining what really interests or pushes them away. If you’re recruiting for a job in any field, gathering broad demographics is not enough. A candidate persona is a “fictional representation of your ideal hire for a specific role. These are based on as much real data as possible, along with educated guesses about experience, goals, motivations and concerns.” Therefore, identifying the typical characteristics like age, education and past work experience isn’t going to cut it. To build a successful candidate persona that hones in on key identifiers of your perfect candidate, you must look past the basics.
Getting Started on Your Candidate Persona
Keep in mind that creating candidate personas does not mean succumbing to stereotypical tendencies, but it does mean identifying behaviors and pain points in their personal and professional lives. Ask questions like these of your target candidate pool when building your personas:
- What motivates your candidate?
- What are they looking for in an employer?
- What are their hobbies and interests?
- What kind of work/life balance benefits them the best?
- What challenges stem from their upbringing?
- What are their long term professional and personal goals?
- What objections may they have to working in your industry or company?
- What life-stage are they currently in? What milestones have they met or what milestones do they expect in their future?
Keep in mind this can’t be discriminatory, but if having a family is important to your target candidate, then highlight the great benefits your company offers to make their work/life balanced.
How Do You Gather This Information?
Create a survey using Survey Monkey or QZZR that you can send out to your personal or professional network to gather data. You may seek resources in the most unlikely places… For example, your little brother who is on active duty with an extensive network of new veterans or your cousin Laura who is a stay at home mom with a college degree and looking for remote work are real-life resources you can use to draw up a persona draft.
Try This: Don’t be afraid to post to your personal Facebook or Twitter and ask your friends if they know anyone who fits a brief description of your targeted talent pool. The more people you can recruit for information, the better.
What Does All of the Information Tell You?
Look for common answers and develop a way to organize trends for each category. If the position you’re hiring for is a desk job, but the candidate you’re targeting is a military veteran with a bachelor’s degree who doesn’t want a desk job then your recruitment messaging needs to focus on the other parts of the job that don’t require desk work.
Use the candidate persona as a cultural fit template. Todd Raphael (@ToddRaphael), Editor in Chief of Recruiting Media Company explains,
"Hiring for cultural fit above skills is a great idea, because you never know how much an employee will be developing, growing and changing over time -- they could be in a completely different role by next year… And it makes sense to do so based on the industry and market you're in, too: If you're an accounting company, for instance, you don't necessarily want to hire someone who's chaotic and extremely creative. If you're a cutthroat, uber-competitive, cutting-edge company, you don't want to hire someone who's very laid-back and not as driven by competition, for instance..."
Try This: To best organize your candidate personas (and all of the personality details mentioned above), try using an outline format or bulleted list.
Candidate Persona Title
- Background/ Upbringing - Morals
- Background/ Upbringing - Challenges
- Work/Life Balance Needs
- Personal Goals
- Workforce Expectations
- Workplace Expectations
- Professional Goals
Consult your candidate persona to create tailored recruitment messaging to your ideal candidates that resonates. This can also help create a benchmark for quick reference during the applicant screening process. This information gives insight into messaging and where these people are most likely to be (which can give recruiters a leg up when contacting prospects!) Having personas also allows recruiters and hiring managers to assemble teams and assess cultural fit much faster. Try candidate personas in your recruitment marketing and see results skyrocket!