Candidate Personas and How You Can Use Them to Improve Your Hiring

Time to Read: 6.1 minutes

Updated: May 17, 2024

If you are anything like us, you’re always trying to improve how you hire new people. One effective way is by using candidate personas. But if you’ve never come across them before you might not know how personas can make your hiring more efficient and successful. From improving how candidates experience the hiring process to avoiding bad fits, candidate personas can make a big difference. We’ll walk you through why they are so beneficial and provide you with a simple guide to the process of creating these personas. Let’s get started!

What Are Candidate Personas?

Candidate personas are detailed portraits of your ideal candidate for a role or a team. They are based on research, candidate data and insights about your target talent pool. Creating a candidate persona helps you to understand the characteristics, preferences, skills, and motivations of potential candidates, making it easier for you to personalize your hiring process to better attract and engage candidates that fit the mold!

Using Candidate Personas to Improve Your Hiring Process

Because candidate personas help you to tailor your recruitment strategies, messaging, and overall candidate experiences they can make your hiring more effective in several ways:

1. Speed Up Your Time to Hire

With well-defined personas to direct your hiring, job advertisements and outreach efforts can become more targeted, and you can develop more compelling and tailored messaging to appeal to the right audience. This precision minimizes the time spent reviewing irrelevant resumes and conducting unnecessary interviews, allowing you to focus on the most promising candidates.

2. Provide a Better Candidate Experience

From crafting job descriptions to designing interview processes, a candidate persona can guide you as you create candidate experiences that will resonate with the target audience. Once you understand the needs, preferences, and motivations of potential candidates you can tailor your communication, outreach, and interactions accordingly. This personalized approach means candidates feel more connected to you and relevant messaging means they feel seen all of which positions you as an employer who cares and that candidates want to work for.

3. Improve Your Employer Branding

Candidate personas can help support and improve your employer brand, particularly if you are hiring internationally or across different regions and industries. Because personas can reflect the nuances of candidate expectations and values, you can tailor the way you present yourselves to different groups, making your brand more relatable and helping it to resonate with your target audience. It also demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and understanding.

4. Get a Better Candidate Fit

Because you have available detailed profiles of ideal candidates, you can more accurately assess applicants and identify those who not only have the necessary qualifications but those whose skills, values, and motivations resonate with the company culture. This approach significantly reduces the likelihood of hiring mismatches and a well-fitted candidate is more likely to excel and be productive in their role, contribute positively to the team, and remain committed to the organization.

5. Raise Your Retention Rates

Candidate personas give an insight into the values, motivations, and preferences of your workforce, allowing for strategies that better cater to individual needs. By understanding what resonates with your employees you can create a supportive work culture that meets with their expectations, giving them a sense of belonging and job satisfaction, important factors in retaining top talent. Personas can also aid in effective onboarding, giving new hires a smoother transition into their roles. Both these factors encourage loyalty and commitment and contribute to higher retention rates.

A Guide to Writing Candidate Personas

This guide will help you develop a candidate persona template that you can use to create candidate personas to attract and engage the right candidates for your organizations.

First let’s start with some important things to consider before you begin.

  • It is possible to have too many candidate personas! Whether candidate personas are created by role, department, or experience you should be aiming for about 3-5.
  • Persona’s need to be detailed but they are about creating a representation of your ideal candidate. Don’t get so specific that you exclude great candidates.

Next, we need to think about the sections you need to include in your candidate persona template.

  • Source: Where are you going to find your ideal candidate? Including job boards, social media, careers fairs, and employee referrals.
  • Background: Who is the typical applicant likely to be in terms of age, gender, income level, and job title? This is an area you need to be careful in as you don’t want to exclude candidates based on age, gender, or other demographic qualities.
  • Experience: What knowledge are you expecting ideal candidates to have? This could be academic qualifications, experience with specific processes or tech or even length of service in a specific industry.
  • Skills: What skills do candidates need to have? This should include soft skills like communication, problem-solving, or leadership, as well as technical skills.
  • Communication: How are you going to engage with your ideal candidate? Do they spend time on specific social media networks, prefer email or phone calls, and are they likely to be members of any professional organizations?
  • Motivations: What’s driving your ideal candidate to find a new role? While salary is always a big driver it might not be the only push/pull factor behind career decisions.
  • Values: What values does your ideal candidate expect their employer to embody? This could be areas like flexibility, well-being, DEI, or sustainability.
  • Aspirations: Where is your ideal candidate going? What are their career goals, including desired roles, experience level, job title, and compensation?
  • Traits: Who is your candidate as an employee? Explore their personality, communication style, preferred role on a team and strengths and weaknesses.
  • Pain Points: What might put your ideal candidate off applying for a role? This could be the application process, employer brand, lack of communication messaging, or benefits on offer.

Still wondering what your persona template should look like. Here are some great examples to inspire your creativity.

Now let’s look at the steps you’ll need to take to fill out your candidate persona template. This will mainly involve external benchmarking and internal research.

1. Determine the Role or Expertise

Define the specific job role or expertise for the persona, including key responsibilities, required skills, and the role’s strategic importance within the organization.

2. Do External Research

Use platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed to gather insights on ideal applicants. Identify where they currently work, understand their career trajectories, and the types of job opportunities they are actively seeking.

3. Examine Hiring Metrics

Analyze current hiring metrics to extract data on successful hires in similar roles. Explore patterns, identify effective hiring channels, and assess the qualifications and characteristics common among successful candidates.

4. Consult Hiring Team:

Engage with the hiring team, including managers and recruiters, to gain internal perspectives. Gather their experiences and insights to understand the specific traits, skills, and qualities they typically look for when evaluating candidates for the defined roles.

5. Interview Target Profiles:

Conduct interviews with candidates who match the target profiles. Ask about their professional goals, challenges, and motivations. These firsthand insights provide a deeper understanding of the candidate’s perspective.

If you are looking for innovative ways to improve your talent attraction and retention Pierpoint’s full service RPO solution could be the answer. Talk to an expert today to discuss your talent needs.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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