Know your target audience, create a candidate persona

Published Feb 17, 20

Who is your ideal candidate? Creating candidate personas helps you understand your target audience and improve recruitment of new colleagues.

What drives your ideal candidate when looking for a new job? A candidate persona is a representation of your ideal candidate and helps answering this question. Creating a persona has several advantages: as a recruiter you will gain more insight in reaching your target audience and persuading them to apply for jobs at your organisation. It will help you to finetune your job descriptions, recruitment website and your recruitment strategy to the profile of your target audience. But where to begin and how to create a persona?

It starts with research...

Talk to your colleagues

Start talking to your colleagues. What are the requirements that a new colleague should meet according to the managers? When this is clear, you can interview colleagues of specific departments. Are you looking for a new colleague for the IT team? Ask your IT team what they like about their job, what soft and hard skills they need and what their goals are. Also, try to find out why your colleagues love working at your organisation.

Interview applicants

Besides insights about your own employees, input from good applicants is very valuable. What channels and media do they use and how did they find your vacancy? Did they browse the internet or were they tipped off by fellow colleagues? The answers to these questions help to engage with new candidates and to know where to find them. You can use the right platforms for job marketing or a suitable referral programme to recruit new candidates.

Broaden your horizon, look outside your organisation

Are you looking for candidates that you have not already hired before? See if you can find out more about these candidates via your network. Of course you can also choose to use expert agencies that can analyse your target audience, such as Intelligence Group and their European Recruitment Dashboard.

Define your persona(s)

Create your persona

The next step is to use all the acquired data and define the representation of your ideal candidate. Name your persona, personalise it by adding a photo and describe all the elements of its profile.

These questions about your ideal candidate may help you:

  • What age is your candidate?
  • Where does he or she live? What are preferences for commuting to work?
  • What is the educational background?
  • What is the career stage and what are the candidate’s ambitions?
  • What soft and hard skills does the candidate need?
  • What are hobbies or leisure activities?
  • What are important elements of the job that attract the ideal candidate?
  • What media does the candidate use?

By representing this information visually, you will get a good total picture of your ideal candidate. You can bring the persona to life even more by writing a short bio. What are driving factors, what kind of culture or branche fits him or her, does the candidate prefer working independently or rather in a team? Really try to grasp these details so you can see yourself in the shoes of the ideal candidate.

Or create several personas

One persona usually does not represent the whole organisation. Drivers and pull factors may vary to a great extent for different groups of employees. It is common to create several personas. You can choose to create personas based on discipline, age or career stage. If you do not have a clear picture of different groups in your organisation, you will probably be able to determine some profiles from the research data that you gathered.

Adapt your content and choose the right channels

Once you have completed your persona(s), the real hard work begins! Now you need to make sure that your job descriptions, content and communication strategy suit your persona. Write your job title and job description with the persona in mind. Write specific content (testimonials, blogs, news articles) that matches the persona’s interests and publish this content and the job descriptions on channels that are used by your ideal candidate.

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