As with many job functions these days, recruiting is one that is becoming an increasingly competitive one. Nevertheless, as with many industries, Human Resources and recruitment are also being made increasingly productive and speedy with the use of AI and other forms of technology. And creating candidate personas is no exception to the ways AI is improving recruitment and hiring processes.
But what are candidate personas? How can they benefit your recruitment process? And how can you create one with technology?
We cover it all in this blog post!
What Is a Candidate Persona?
In recruitment and other hiring practices, a candidate persona is a character who stands in for and represents the personality traits and/or identifying details of an ideal candidate. Just as marketing professionals have personas to better understand their target audiences, so too ought to recruiters and other hiring professionals.
Quite simply, recruiting personas function just like how marketing personas help those professionals narrow down and better target their audiences for their marketing tactics. They help recruiters get their job postings out to the right people for a given job.
Specifically, candidate personas can target an ideal candidate by narrowing down on any of the following:
- The role at hand (i.e., a copywriter, a registered nurse, a sales associate, a junior UX designer, etc.)
- The experience expected of the candidate (i.e., entry-level, junior, supervisor, etc.)
- Soft skills and personality traits that are specific to the job at hand (i.e., creativity, strong independent worker, excellent communicator, etc.)
As Jillian O’Malior writes for Recruitics, without using a candidate persona’s information, “Often, searching through LinkedIn profiles or the existing talent pool doesn’t provide enough information about who else could be a great fit for an organization.”
No matter how you categorize your persona, you should nevertheless always include in your persona the ideal candidate’s career aspirations and expectations (especially for pay and job level), personality traits and soft skills, hard skills and experience, and employer values.
What Does a Candidate Persona Look Like?
Just as O’Malior suggests, using a candidate persona can broaden your scope enough to appeal to more candidates while also considering what exactly would make a candidate a good fit for a given position.
As such, to ensure a recruiter is able to find suitable candidates, an HR professional might offer the following information to support their searches for the ideal candidate:
- what kind of personality they’re looking for
- what experience an ideal candidate might have
- what the candidate might be looking for in a job (i.e., what their expectations are)
A candidate persona itself, then, might look something like the following candidate persona for an entry-level social media marketing position at a bank.
A recent graduate from New York University, Emily has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and has completed an internship in marketing two summers in a row for a small online jewellery company.
She’s a young worker looking for an entry-level position that offers consistent, reliable employment. As she offers in her portfolio of previous work, her work is consistent and creative. She also loves to stay up-to-date with the latest trends online, and as such, is heavily involved in social media platforms in her free-time, as well.
She has a strong grasp on graphic design tools such as Adobe Spark and Canvas, and has experience using Hootsuite and Google Analytics for scheduling and analyzing social media posts respectively.
Passionate about both social media and in helping young people make wise financial decisions via her personal TikTok, Emily is excited about the opportunity to work in the financial sector as a marketer. She hopes to use the organization’s social media pages and already massive following to further educate customers, drive engagement, and promote trust between the bank and its clients.
Fun tip! You can easily create a candidate persona using ChatGPT. Simply ask it to create a candidate persona for the role and the environment for which you’re hiring.
How Using Candidate Personas Can Improve Recruiting
In case you’re not already convinced to use a candidate persona to better understand your candidates and target them with your job postings, here are even more reasons to use them to recruit effectively and comprehensively.
1. Improve Your Employer Branding
Considering what will make an ideal candidate for an organization can be really helpful for establishing the organization’s values. Specifically, when you create candidate personas, you are inadvertently establishing what an organization prioritizes and values in an environment, thereby demonstrating these ideas to the general public.
This can be beneficial, therefore, even to those who apply to but aren’t chosen for the position. And if you’re lucky, these lasting impressions will attract candidates time and again for future opportunities.
2. Recruit Faster and More Effectively with Benchmarks
Of course, when you establish exactly what an ideal candidate will have, you will already have a good idea of what soft and hard skills to filter for in your hiring process.
You can then use your candidate persona to understand where you might set benchmarks in personality assessments—like Packfinder, where Workwolf users can set benchmarks to automate filtration processes. This will moreover make your filtration process less biased, as you’re filtering by personality traits and habits, rather than markers of identity and other details that might, even unconsciously, impact your hiring decisions.
3. Ensure Employees Will Stay Longterm
Many problems in employee retention come from miscommunication—namely, miscommunications around expectations from the employer about the employee’s experiences or abilities and expectations of the employment opportunity. So, by using a candidate persona to base your job posting and recruitment practice off of can better inform your search results.
Specifically, if you’re actively looking for a person with certain values and expectations, you’ll be more likely to be on the same page about non-negotiable working conditions.