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How candidate personas can improve the recruiting process.


Meredith Stack


Businesses use personas—fictional examples of the people to whom they’re talking— in many ways. For example, UX personas enable UX design that's focused on the end-user. Buyer personas inform marketing teams what potential and current buyers desire from a product or service. Personas are a research-driven approach to understanding any target audience.

The core purpose of a persona is to guide your company in identifying and connecting with an audience more effectively. In the manner that buyer personas help the marketing team reach their ideal buyer, candidate personas can make your recruiting process run much more effectively.

Why should you take the time to create candidate personas?

Candidate personas are a useful tool that helps an organization identify and understand the wants, desires, and characteristics of ideal job candidates. Using personas, you can:

  • Improve the relevancy of your job descriptions
  • Source candidates based on their interests, skills, and needs
  • Attract more qualified candidates and find passive candidates who meet your needs
  • Create an employer brand that helps you stand out for potential candidates
  • Align your sourcing strategies and focus on better talent

Personas provide a powerful way to ensure that your recruiting efforts are focused on the right people, that you have a good sense of who they are, and what they’re looking for in their employer and next position.

How do you create candidate personas?

Start creating candidate personas by uncovering answers to questions that will provide background information, such as:

  • What motivates candidates?
  • What are their professional goals?
  • What skills help candidates succeed?
  • Where are candidates employed currently?
  • How can you interact with them?

You may have a sense of the answers to these questions, but it's also essential to validate them. To confirm you're on the right path with a persona, use your ATS data. You'll also want to survey current employees to understand more about who you're hiring. Data from the ATS and surveys should assist you in answering these questions:

  • Why do people want to work for you?
  • How do candidates find you?
  • What qualifications do candidates need or bring?
  • Are there trends around when candidates enter your workforce? (E.g., do you have a lot of recent graduates, tenured professionals, or a combination?)

What value does a candidate persona add to the recruitment process?

If you're making an effort and investing the time in creating personas, you'll want to know what benefits you can expect. Given the targeted approach and unique understanding a persona delivers, it’s possible to improve the time to hire because you’re wasting less time with the wrong candidates.

It’s also more likely candidate personas will help reduce turnover rates because personas help you attract and identify a better fit. Combined with assessments, these personas empower hiring managers and recruiters alike to make the best possible choices when determining the final candidate.

Finally, from a budget perspective, personas can help ensure you spend recruitment marketing dollars more wisely with a reliable, data-based approach about who you want to hire, what they're searching for, and where you'll find them.

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