The Rise of Candidate Personas

I truly believe recruiting will never be the same. Whether corporate or agency, today’s Talent Leaders are part data scientist (sourcing) and part marketer (story teller).

Over the last few years, we’ve come to realise that “recruitment is marketing” and we’ve worked hard to differentiate ourselves from competitors, provide real life compelling career (not jobs) stories and constantly engage with candidates.

Now we are borrowing the next tool in the marketer’s toolbox – personas.

How can you make use of candidate personas to help you identify critical talent #tips Click To Tweet
What is a persona?

For many years now, marketers have defined their ideal customers by building personas:

“A customer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers, that takes into consideration demographics, behaviour patterns & traits, motivations, and goals.” – Sam Kusinitz

This provides a solid guide to help a marketer decide where to focus his/her time and allow for alignment across the organisation.

What about a candidate persona?

A candidate persona is a fictional representation of your ideal candidate for a specific role based on research and insights focused on experience (work history), education, goals, behaviour patterns & traits, motivations and concerns (objections).

This really goes beyond a key selection criteria which is largely based on competencies and attributes and moves to the realm of ‘what are my star performers goals, what are they interested in, what kind of lifestyle do they lead, what technology do they use, where do they hang out and so on’ and so on.

If you’re considering candidate personas, here are some tips to get you started:

number 1Find a good template

A good template will guide you towards asking the right questions and provide structure to your research. Download this free template to help you get started.

 number 2Engage stakeholders

Developing personas is a great team activity. Your candidate persona should reflect a real personality. Give him/her a name, a background, a life. This will help you to visualise your ideal candidate. You may create several personas for each role and remember, as recruiters we need to adherence to protected attributes.

 number 3Develop a sourcing strategy

With the characteristics that you had defined for your ideal candidate persona, you can then determine the appropriate language and channel to use to try and reach out to these talents. For example, if you are looking to hire a fresh graduate to fill an entry level Digital Marketer role, you can consider using SnapChat. Conversely, you wouldn’t use the same tool to recruit a senior Product Engineer. It is not impossible but the chances of you finding the people you want are lower.

A candidate persona can provide a solid guide to help you decide where to focus your sourcing efforts Click To Tweet

If you still aren’t convinced about the rise of candidate personas, just look to our friends in the US and Europe to understand how they are already applying a marketers approach to recruitment. Some leaders that come to mind are Allison Kruse from Kforce and Bryan Chaney from Indeed who have written and presented on this topic.

In Australia and New Zealand, we are only just beginning to see this approach adopted for recruitment of critical talent. With the hiring trend moving towards employment marketing and branding, it’s time for us pick up the pace and tap into the potential of using candidate personas to help us recruit more efficiently.

If you’d like to learn more, we are running a series of one-day Human Centred Design Thinking for Recruitment workshops in May 2016 across Australia and New Zealand. Sign up today.

Image: Shutterstock

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2 Responses to “The Rise of Candidate Personas”

  1. Stan Rolfe

    Really enjoyed this article.
    As someone who manages a small team, I just wonder how this can be done with scant resources and very little cash reserves. Hard enough developing talent pools/communities and inbedding proactive sourcing, but now to begin persona profiling?
    I think it has value, and if there are tools that help you build the profile (gather your employee profiles across social to formulate a profile alongside psychometric profiles) I think this would help in screening people out, as well as attracting them

  2. Hi Stan This is a fair comment. If recruitment is now marketing then as recruitment leaders we need to look at better ways how we can engage critical skills, creating personas that are a real reflection of the people that work in your organisation in these critical and hard to find candidate can help you do this. It really comes down to creating the most value for your orgainsation, you are not going to create personas for every role, just those that matter as we all know not all roles are created equal.


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