Candidate Personas: 4 Ways Recruiting Can Get Value From Them

Candidate Personas: 4 Ways Recruiting Can Get Value From Them

Mike Roberts

Talent acquisition teams have recently been putting lots of resources into employer branding and messaging. And yet, the reality is few have actually gone through an exercise to truly understand who their candidates are. It makes you wonder how effectively those dollars are being spent.

“Personas” in general can help the way different functions operate across the organization. For instance, your product team may have user personas. Sales and marketing use buyer personas. Likewise, recruiting can build out candidate personas.

A candidate persona is a fictitious representation of your most ideal candidate—or set of candidates (it’s okay to have more than one). It essentially presents the demographics, experience, goals and challenges, and so on of your typical candidates in a very consumable way.

Whether for buyers, users, or candidates, you’ve probably come across personas during your professional career.

Used in the right way, candidate personas can have enormous value. That is, if you take the time to put in the research, build them out, and then give them a role in your recruiting process. Below, we’ll discuss four ways you can put your candidate personas to use.

1. Messaging: Tell the Right Story to Your Future Applicants

Candidate personas can help you build the story of your employer brand. For instance, if your main candidate persona is a millennial engineer, then you’re going to want to tailor the content on your career site and other areas in a way that appeals to him or her—in the context of your culture and everything you have to offer.

The other option is to blindly create messaging and “hope for the best.”

Messaging is easier said than done and requires compelling, thoughtful copywriting supported by design. Too many companies have had the same content on their career site homepage for the better part of a decade, when so much has changed about the world in that short timeframe (e.g. Millennials now comprise the largest working generation, we all consume information on the go, etc.).

The messaging you create on your career site will lay the foundation for the way you present your employer brand on the rest of the internet. If you have more than one candidate persona, you may have to rationalize them all into one concise voice, but it will help you and your team tell your story in a unified way.

2. Onboarding: Ramp Up New Recruiters Very Quickly

We hope every new recruiter can jump right into their position and begin producing results. Anyone who’s onboarded a new hire knows that can be difficult. Candidate personas are key here, as a carefully researched and crafted document can set the context for any new addition to your team, making training significantly more meaningful.

Candidate personas are also helpful for companies that leverage agency recruiters. For instance, a veteran recruiter has his or her own way of doing things and communicating, but having a candidate persona document handy could give them a quick overview of how to speak to that in the context of your employer brand and culture.

3. Strategic Direction: Align Your Budget With Your Candidates

Clearly, a result of increasing connectivity is the changing ways candidates discover and learn about your brand and open opportunities. In the grand scheme of things, this has all happened relatively recently. Different groups of candidates will have different preferences for how they use the web, and you’ve got to meet them there.

Your candidate personas can help you answer tough questions about candidates—like which social networks are they using, which forums do they frequent, or which devices do they use to access the internet. Knowing this about your specific candidates can help you optimize resource allocation and ultimately drive better returns.

4. Segmentation: Improve Your Chances of Connecting and Converting

Large companies hire many different types of people. Think of companies like GE or Google—they have so many departments and lines of business it doesn’t make sense to communicate with every potential applicant in the same way.

Of course, you want to maintain a cohesive employer brand and highlight your culture in your recruiting efforts, but converting an engineer into a candidate will likely require an alternative strategy to one used for a salesperson.

Segmentation based on your candidate personas can be good for this, and done right it can improve your conversions. This can be particularly helpful if you have a talent network or candidate CRM type of solution. Email marketing campaigns are significantly more effective when segmentation is used.

Give your candidates the experience they expect. Our Candidate Experience Toolkit has all the information you need to get on the path toward a modern recruiting strategy.

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