Are your recruiters struggling to make real connections with candidates? As former recruiters, we know that requisitions run together and the hiring process can become rote. And that’s how we lose the personal connections with target candidates we so desperately need.
Here at exaqueo, we take a lot of lessons from consumer marketing; one of which is using personas to inform marketing strategies. Consumer marketers use personas to get behind the buyer: who are they, how do they feel and what spurs their actions? By using a similar approach in talent acquisition, we create candidate personas to help our clients better reach and connect with best-fit talent.
So, what are personas?
Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal audience and serve as a stand-in for this unique group of people. For years, the consumer marketing industry has used personas as a tool to better understand their ideal customers. In parallel, we have found that personas can be utilized in the many strategic areas of talent acquisition—from talent attraction to candidate experience to retention. Specifically, personas can be used as a tool to represent our ideal candidates.
Why does this matter?
Throughout talent acquisition, it’s important to understand who your candidates are, what makes them tick and what their journey looks like. Having a deep understanding of your candidate(s) is critical to anything related to talent acquisition, for example:
Personas help us internalize the ideal candidates we are trying to attract and relate to them as real people. Creating personas can help improve the way you solve talent acquisition challenges for the business and align your hiring team on the type of talent to recruit. Most importantly, they help create empathy and keep teams grounded in the real needs of their ideal candidates. Because of this, we believe that the process of creating candidate personas is well worth the time and an essential part of your talent acquisition strategy.
Okay, so candidate personas are an important tool for talent acquisition. But, how do I actually create one?
Because personas are a composite sketch of your ideal candidate, it’s easy to take shortcuts in developing them by simply compiling a “wish list” of traits you want them to have. However, a properly developed candidate persona is based on sound research, not made up of weak assumptions or dangerous intuitions. Once developed, they may reinforce what you already know, dispel myths or both.
At exaqueo, we have a proven methodology and blueprint for building candidate personas. The majority of our research is qualitative—based on market research as well as insights gathered from surveys and interviews from top performing employees (those who have recently “bought”) and ideal candidates (those who are still shopping). We also incorporate elements of our proprietary Whole Self and Source of Brand models. Ultimately helping you tailor your messaging and customize your approach to engaging with the type of talent you want for your organization.
If you were to develop personas on your own, you can follow these steps:
And, a finished persona profile will include elements from your persona model and a name, photo and story to bring it to life.
Once they're developed, how do I integrate personas into the work I'm doing with employer branding?
Use of personas can be a critical part of ensuring all elements of the employment lifecycle carry an authentic employer brand. However, socializing and implementing personas is almost as important as developing them. Before you begin, however, there are several key considerations:
And, here is a sample of how personas are used as a tool for the key stakeholders involved in employer brand work, including:
Appealing and relating to your audience (candidates)—consistently throughout touchpoints in recruitment and attraction—will help pull the employer brand through as effectively as possible. And, it will help you get inside your candidates’ mindset and understand their needs, expectations, behaviors, pain points and overall experience. Which will help create a better, more personalized and consultative, candidate experience.
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