Develop Candidate Personas to Zero-In on Top Recruiting Candidates

Every HR professional and corporate recruiter wants to make the perfect hire each and every time. Of course, it doesn’t always turn out that way. The person who at first seemed like a great match for the open position may eventually seem like an ill-advised selection, leaving your company with sunk training and development costs.
Is there anything that can be done to reduce the number of hiring misfires, and enhance your targeting process? Actually, there is: the development of candidate personas. When HR managers and recruiters take a page out of the marketing department’s book, they will likely find that there are numerous benefits that come from using a well-designed candidate persona as a guideline in the hiring process.

What are Candidate Personas?

A “candidate persona” is basically the recruiter’s version of a marketer’s “buyer persona:” a semi-fictional representation of who your ideal candidate for the job would be. Of course, a good candidate persona is not just something that you can pull out of your hat on a whim. It should be based on solid market research and real data about successful employees in equivalent positions, either within or outside of your company.
An effective candidate persona must encompass more than an ideal prospect’s skills, education, and experience. It should drill down into his or her motivations, career goals, fears, strengths, and weaknesses. After all, you don’t want to hire someone that simply fills a slot, and goes through the motions day after day. Rather, you want to bring in an employee that adds real and lasting value to your company, that enjoys doing the work that needs to be done, and that brings enthusiasm and inspiration to your team.
A candidate persona can help you to accomplish all of those goals.

How do You Create an Effective Candidate Persona?

You can build an effective candidate persona in much the same way that marketers build an effective buyer persona. Here are 3 basic steps you can follow for best results:

Gather Relevant Data

Perhaps the best place to start data collection is at home. Interview employees at your company who have proven or are currently proving to be successful at equivalent positions. During the interview process, you’ll want to take note of such factors as basic demographic information, background, personality characteristics, education level, work experience, career goals, and so forth.
You’ll also want to look at past hires for the position. Examine those hires you would consider successful, as well as those that were unsuccessful. Additionally, as you conduct your research keep on the lookout for which websites and social media platforms your ideal candidate might use. This will make it easier to create targeted job postings further on in the process.

Identify Common Attributes Between Successful Candidates

Once you’ve gathered a sufficient amount of relevant data, look for commonalities between successful candidates. For instance, you could ask yourself these questions:

  • What personality characteristics do many successful candidates share?
  • What education levels have they achieved?
  • What are their career goals and motivations?
  • What potential objections would they have to filling this position?

Asking specific questions like these will help you to pinpoint the unique attributes that you should be searching for in a hiring candidate.

Create Your Persona

Finally, it’s time to put your persona together. Most marketing agencies give each of their buyer personas a distinctive name, as well as subtle personality quirks. You shouldn’t be afraid to do the same; this will make your candidate persona more relatable, and easier to “spot” during interviews.
Remember that your candidate persona is not a jazzed up job description. It should represent an accurate (though approximate) description of the person you want to hire for the position, not the position itself.
It’s also important to note that all key hiring stakeholders should collaborate throughout this 3-step process, and come to an agreement on which common attributes are most vital to the search for the best candidate. A collaborative approach from the very beginning will save much confusion and frustration later on.

What are the Benefits?

There are several advantages to using a candidate persona in your talent search. For one, you’ll be able to more effectively target those candidates whose passions and values align with those of your company. That factor by itself can help to reduce turnover rate, and add true value to your company.
You’ll also be able to conduct more effective job interviews with applicants; or, if you have other team members that handle the interview process, you’ll be able to coach them on specific attributes to look for in a well-matched candidate.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to cut down on wasted time and resources from posting online jobs in sub-optimal locations. For instance, if you know that your ideal candidate frequently visits Facebook, but hardly ever browses over to job search sites, then you’ll be able to make a strategic, well-informed decision on where to advertise.
In summary, candidate personas can help you to zero-in on top recruiting prospects, and even streamline the entire hiring process from start to finish. Most importantly, they’ll increase your odds of finding that “perfect hire” for your open position. What more could a recruiter ask for?

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