Competition is fierce out there when it comes to attracting the right talent to your organization. Companies with a strong employer brand see 50% more qualified applicants and 1-2x faster time to hire. As you project your employer brand messaging as an overarching concept of what it is like to work at your organization how would you as a recruiter then use that information to source and attract talent? Well, You need to know your target audience first. Right messaging to right talent!

Doing some traditional recruiting tactics of posting a generic and boring job posting or tweeting /sharing some social media posts won’t just help you to attract the right candidates. Instead, build a candidate persona!

A candidate persona is not a new term in recruiting. But if you haven’t heard it already, it is similar to the Buyer persona in Marketing/Sales.

“A Candidate Persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate based on market research and real data about your existing employees.”

This is going to be a data-driven approach to find an idea of who is going to be an ideal type candidate for a specific job. You will understand what’s going be the skills, characteristics, and a much deeper dive into the professional goals and their online presence to track down that ideal type of candidates.

Why do you need to create a Candidate Persona?

Before you post a job or start sourcing or doing some recruitment marketing for any open jobs, I would recommend creating your Candidate Persona. That way you know your target candidate, you know where to find them, find what matters for them in their career and use that information to attract them to your organization. This information will help you tailor your talent attraction and recruitment marketing strategies to get the best results. It can be a lengthy and targeted approach that will get you to hire the right candidate in a much faster way.

How to build a Candidate Persona.

Understand what you are looking for in a candidate for a specific job. You can use most of the information from your job description but be sure to involve your hiring manager, top performing employees in similar role to get some insights. Following the below steps can help you get the information you need.

Go through your JAQ/ Job description: Get the first-hand information from the internal Job Analysis Questionnaire (JAQ) or job description to know the basic information on the skills, expertise, and background, the location that you are looking for.

Hiring manager intake meeting: What you think of the candidate type might be entirely different than what the hiring manager thinks. Sit with your hiring manager to understand very specific questions on what would motivate your candidate to apply for this job, what are some exciting projects that they will get to work on, what kind of work environment the team has now and what type of personality would a best fit for that work environment etc.

Use a questionnaire to get the information you need. Below are some sample questions:

  • What would be the current title of your candidate? (this will help you understand what role/title your candidate holds now and search accordingly)
  • What would be the current level of your candidate? (Mid level, Junior, Senior etc)
  • What’s are your candidate’s professional goals?
  • What are your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do your candidates hang out on social space?
  • What are some benefits that your candidate would love to have?
  • What are two-three adjectives that come to your mind when you think of your candidate’s personality
  • What would they do for fun?

Interview the team members:

Get the first hand information from the team members who are on a similar role or who this candidate will be working with. What makes them successful in their current role, what are some of the traits that will help them succeed in the role, where did they come from what was their background and how it helped them succeed in their current role. Ask some very specific questions on:

  • What motivates them in their current role and what keeps them engaged?
  • Why did they apply for the job and where did they find the job?
  • What skills helped them the most in their current role?
  • What skills they think will be helpful in the future to boost the performance of the team?
  • What are their goals and where do they want to see after a few years?
  • What benefits matter the most to them which will help them meet their personal goal? (Example: Tuition reimbursement or assistance in housing loan)

You can also incorporate some of the questions from the hiring managers section to get a holistic view of the entire team.

Create your Candidate Persona:

Now you have a handful of information that is more than just a job description would give you. The information you received from the entire research that you did will give insightful data into the type of personality that you are looking for. Use the date to find trends and similarities from the entire data and create your candidate persona. Use it as a template so you can share it with the team and make sure everybody is on the same page.

Start small for the first time. You can have a single candidate persona for the hard to fill positions and test it out. Use the data to create a representative of an actual human being. Give it name and personality. Be creative!

Incorporate your Candidate Persona within Recruitment Marketing and or Sourcing

Use your candidate persona while you create your recruitment marketing or sourcing strategies. You know by now who will be your target candidates, the social platforms/groups that they hang out the most and the benefits that matter the most. Use this information to source your candidates, use the information to create personalized messages when you reach out to them, and do some targeted promotions on the platforms that you know where your candidates are. Use the information to create targeted recruitment marketing and attract your candidates where they are! You will see much better response on the quality of candidates and will be able to fill the position in a short period of time!

For more recruiting and interview insights, join us in Philadelphia this August 6-8,  2019, at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices.

Nisha Raghavan is the Talent Attraction and Employer Branding Specialist at the American Heart Association. Prior to this, she worked in the telecommunications and media industry to help attract, engage and retain talent. She writes about her Global HR experiences at her blog Your HR Buddy!! Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @TheHrbuddy