Make Hiring Easier by Defining Your Candidate Persona

Ivan Cubela | 11/2/2016 | Recruiting

Are you a modern recruiter? One of the most important characteristics and skills of a modern recruiter is to be able easily define their ideal candidate, a.k.a. candidate persona. Defining your candidate persona is the very first stage of a successful recruiting and hiring strategy. It has proven to make hiring easier and improve talent acquisition efforts. That being said, in the modern world of HR, hiring and recruiting does not start before the ideal candidate is identified.

Make Hiring Easier by Defining Your Candidate Persona

Let’s name this unisex person J. Doe so it is easier to follow. J. Doe is the person who is the candidate persona for your open position and has all the right skills and traits. Maybe you already had J. Doe and now he/she’s gone. How to fill that position and avoid the pitfalls?

What is a candidate persona?

A candidate persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate. This persona is formed by defining the characteristics, skills and traits that make up your perfect hire. Creating personas help guide and make your hiring process easier. Identifying talent that is the best fit for your organisation is not a choice any more, it’s a must!

Why was a candidate persona created?

It all started with marketing buyer personas. It tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.
Much more than a one-dimensional profile of the people you need to influence, or a map of their journey, actionable buyer personas reveal insights about your buyers’ decisions — the specific attitudes, concerns and criteria that drive prospective customers to choose you, your competitor or the status quo.
This converted to the talent acquisition and – voila – you have a candidate persona. To really meet the right J. Doe, you have to go through few steps – the great 4 Ws. Before we start unveiling the questions and going deeper to the personality of J. Doe, you must understand and do one simple thing – leave out your assumptions. Now let’s get back to J. Doe. First of all, giving a name, J. Doe, gives your ideal candidate a life and it makes it easier for you to follow the footsteps.

Creating candidate persona

Now you need to get into it. The best way to learn more about J. Doe is to talk to your own employees, current and past, to find out what exactly they like or dislike about your company. This way you need to evaluate how good is your employer brand actually.
Once you get all the info from them, next step is to talk to your executives to check out their perspective, how they see company’s brand and employees. Then you need to compare the answers and this will give you some of the J. Doe’s real shapes.
Next thing is to check out social networks such as LinkedIn and see what stands out in the people’s resumes, considering the open position you are looking for. You should be able to understand job descriptions for each job role to know exactly what is required. This will give you insights into what people consider relevant, the way they see things. Also going through your already applied candidates can help you shape the J. Doe a little bit more.
Now let’s get back to the great 4 Ws. With the information you gathered, you need to answer the questions: Who, What, Where and Why (not).
You need to separate what is the most important and simply set up questions, which will give you J. Doe’s profile. Start first with current facts (current position, academic background, experience etc.) then move to what fits your company (personality, habits, core values etc.) and then look for inputs and interests (motivation, skillsets, hobbies etc.). Finally, answer one simple question: Why would J. Doe (not) work for me?

Let’s wrap it up

The candidate persona serves as a test for you as an employer if you want to hire the best candidate for yourself. This is very important because what works for somebody else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. To put it differently, if J. Doe has the greatest CV and recommendations, it still might be bad for you.
The candidate persona can also test if you as an employer can find the best candidate for yourself. This should be kept in mind as what works for somebody else, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. Take CV and references for an example, though they might be great, it still doesn’t mean that this person will be right for you.
Now that you have identified your ideal employee, learn more about how to find high-quality candidates.


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