Creating strong candidate personas doesn't happen by accident. It involves following a structured process that'll help you hire more effectively based on real insight rather than assumptions and any preconceived notions you might have.
It helps to be laser-focused in your approach
Start off by thinking about what’s your most important persona. Give them a name and focus on them. It’s better to form a strong connection with your key target group rather than spread yourself thinly by creating a ton of weak profiles.
From here, it's time to hunt down your hiring managers, key employees and candidates to get the ammo you need before you can even begin to think about building out your personas.
This is where all the valuable hard work gets done. A well-thought-out persona should be based on data and testimonials from existing employees and real candidates. So, try to avoid gut feel and assumptions.
Instead, get people talking to find out more about them, the role and their experience with your company.
For the purpose of this exercise we’ve focused on a marketing executive role and called our persona Marketing Maria.
What’s it really like to work in the marketing department? Your employees will let you know the full truth so start with the current team and feel free to move on to other colleagues in the company.
Ultimately, your existing employees should have a lot of the traits you’re going to be looking for. All you need to do is ask questions around their goals, interests, what they enjoy about the role and what it takes to be successful.
Getting buy-in from your hiring managers and recruiters is a crucial part of the process.
Find out what they’d expect to see in a marketing new starter and how they source candidates.
Explore the areas mentioned at the creation stage: define the appropriate job title (these can vary across different companies), where they work, the skills you’re looking for, their experience, location, goals and aspirations and re-examine the way your team is currently reaching candidates and where they need to look.
You’ve got the inside track. Now it’s time to get an unbiased opinion. Explore why current and previous marketing candidates are applying to work for you and see how their answers compare to your employees’ responses.
And don’t forget about unsuccessful applicants too.
You’ve collected a lot of data. Now it’s time to turn the insights you’ve gathered into action.
At this stage you’ll have a good idea about what your ideal hire looks like.
But are there any common themes running through your findings that you can use to gain an even bigger edge?
If we use our example, it could be that your most successful marketing hires have come from a digital agency background and thrive in fast-paced environments.
You’re bound to uncover a few key themes so use these to your advantage.
Let’s examine an example persona we’ve created for our marketing executive role.
It encompasses all of the research and analysis conducted in the initial stages of discovery and enables the recruitment team to hire more effectively.
As you can see it’s targeted enough to form a holistic view of the ideal candidate. However, there’s no waffle, just concise statements that keep everything on track.
Download our guide to see personas in action, learn more about how personas feed into a wider attraction strategy and how to measure their impact.
And feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chat more about crafting effective candidate personas.