Using candidate personas for hiring: Your quick guide

Rachel Hill
Rachel Hill

Ever wondered what your ideal candidate would look like?

Well wonder no more by using candidate personas.

If you’re a recruiter, you’ll know the struggle is real when it comes to recruiting candidates in 2017. Even if you manage to recruit a great candidate, there’s no guarantee they will stay long. To rub even more salt in the wound, 71% of employed adults are currently seeking or are open to new jobs.

In comparison to 10 years ago, today’s talent pool are far more informed about and interested in the job market. They are acutely aware of the competition for talent and the large number of companies looking for skills like theirs. So to attract ideal candidates nowadays, you need an in-depth understanding of what they are looking for in a job. To facilitate this, candidate personas are a great place to start.

What do ‘candidate personas’ mean exactly?

You may have heard of marketers using personas to better define their target audience and make more sales. Well it is no different in recruiting, with the only difference being the target audience is talent, rather than customers. According to Indeed, candidate personas can be defined as

a research-driven approach to understanding your talent target audience

Recruiters use candidate personas to create more targeted and relevant job descriptions and employer branding, in the hopes of garnering the best hires possible. These personas also help create a sense of consistency in what your sourcing departments wish to find.

How to start creating candidate personas

When I learnt about personas in college, my wise lecturer said:

Please don’t make them up

Candidate personas must be based on sound research, such as using surveys and interviews. This research can include analysis of current and potential employees, as well as anyone else who fits into your candidate persona ideals.

– How many personas do I need?

The number of personas you need depends on the complexity and size of your organisation. It could be anything from 2 – 30. Evaluate the main roles you hire for throughout the year and create personas based on these.

– Examine your top performers

Once you have decided how many personas you need, take a look back on the top performers in your company. By examining the data in your HR management system, you can easily compare your top performers’ experience, career paths and the sourcing strategies that were taken to find these great hires. This data should help you find more great candidates in the future.

Document and share your personas

Once you have collated all your research, sit down with the rest of the sourcing team and discuss what you found. You can then work on making the candidate personas readily available to anyone within sourcing by using a collaborative platform like Google Drive. While you’re at it, why not print them off and hang them on the wall?

candidate personas

The advantages of candidate personas

– You know now where to find candidates

Gone are the days when you could push a job out on a generic job board and expect tons of applications. With the ever changing media landscape, job seekers now use a variety of methods to find jobs, which further stresses the need for candidate personas.

After you have researched how your best candidates find you, you can further optimise these sourcing techniques to ensure more of these candidates apply for your jobs. By using reports in your recruitment software, like HireHive, you can see for example if Indeed, LinkedIn or referrals provide the best return on investment.

– You can improve the likelihood of a good cultural fit

Given that candidate personas give clearer ideas into personality and candidate motivations, you will improve your likelihood of cultural fit in the hiring stage. You will have a better idea of what candidates want and you can work this into your overall recruiting strategy. This is often a more effective method than examining a pile of candidates based on their CVs. While someone may look great on paper, they may not always make a great culture fit.

– You can better highlight your company culture

When writing your new and improved, research-driven job descriptions, you can better highlight your company culture with the candidate personas in mind. Glassdoor recommends beginning your job description with an attention-grabbing paragraph to illustrate how exciting the company is to your target audience. You should also highlight personality characteristics that will align with your culture, as well as experience and skills…

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