Candidate persona templates have become increasingly popular among talent acquisition teams. The main reason is clear: They help hiring teams implement structured hiring processes.
A candidate persona is a focused snapshot of your perfect candidate for a particular role:
- A customer persona factors in buyer personas and characteristics. Brands then use these personas to develop well-bespoke marketing content that appeals to each niche customer segment.
- A candidate persona, on the other hand, accounts for the optimal skill sets, personality traits, cultural values, experience levels, and technical abilities prospective hires should have.
By working with your C-suite, hiring managers, and HR department, you and your TA team can craft personas that help you target candidates who fit the bill for what you’re looking for in new employees and, ultimately, ensure your recruiters spend their time online scouring job boards for ideal prospects wisely and efficiently.
The characteristics of a candidate persona
While not an exact science, many candidate personas account for the same ‘ideal’ traits:
- Background: Know the experience a potential employee absolutely needs to succeed.
- Pain points: Understand the distinct problems a new hire will ultimately solve/address.
- Values: Ensure any prospect you engage aligns with your company’s core principles.
- Goals: An ideal candidate, in any role, must be committed to helping your business thrive.
- Ambition: You should find individuals who want to be with your company for the long haul.
- Source: Use data to discern where your highest-quality candidates tend to come from.
There are certainly other characteristics the optimal job candidate will have. (Those additional ones will mostly come down to your org’s unique business needs and headcount/growth goals.)
The point is your candidate personas should — at the end of the day — be a helpful guide that enables you to come up with creative job descriptions (and even compelling job titles) associated with each open role so you can find the right folks to target in your recruitment marketing efforts and interview as part of your recruiting process.
Developing a candidate persona template
In terms of developing a candidate persona, the process is a team effort between talent leaders, hiring managers, and HR. Together, they must analyze the positive and negative traits and performance of current and past employees and actor in future position- and team-based needs to craft templates for each role across the business.
- After convening to craft these templates, the hiring team can build job ‘scorecards.’
These essentially break down the specific tasks and responsibilities an ideal candidate will take on, outcomes they’re expected to achieve, and desired impact they’re expected to have.
- A hiring manager and their team may want to maintain job scorecards that promote clarity around the critical candidate persona topics: key performance indicators, skills, traits and competencies, key accountabilities, how to exude the company’s core values and so forth.
- Recruiters can interview people they’ve hired for the role, and even those who turned down the offer, delving into areas that align with the persona; e.g., how they learned about and applied to your company, their background, goals and concerns and how they prefer to communicate.
Moreover, you may use a hybrid approach: Hiring managers and recruiters collaborate to complete a scorecard from which a candidate persona emerges. A shared responsibility, therefore, between recruiters, hiring managers and their teams will ensure a robust resource repository for creating each candidate persona.
Creating your candidate personas
Here’s a specific role you’re trying to fill as an example of a candidate persona you could create. Let’s say you’re trying to attract prospects to take on a VP of Marketing role at your business.
Your candidate persona informs the info you look for in the online profiles of prospective hires (i.e., via LinkedIn and other career communities, including niche ones like Github and Dribbble).
In this instance, here’s a sample of the kinds of details you’d want to keep an eye out for:
- In addition to seeking a marketing solutions leader, you may also want someone who is a creative communicator, leader and inspirer of diverse teams.
- You might also want the candidate to be an ambitious high-performer who’s ready to hit the ground running and put their lofty ideas into action.
- The best candidate would likely need skills in motivating, training, project management, sales, digital marketing, and social networking as well.
- More specifically, perhaps they have experience managing and turning around under-performers and are adept at navigating and resolving conflict.
With comprehensive (yet fairly concise and easy-to-read) candidate personas and related job scorecards in place, you and your talent team now have a distributable document to share with other key hiring stakeholders — and one you can leverage in each unique stage of your interview cycle to find the right fits for your business.
Hiring trends show more and more professionals continue to leave their companies and abandon job searches altogether, satisfied to wait until a truly fulfilling work opportunity arises.
With a proactive approach to your TA strategy guided by your personas, though, you can find passive prospects on proven job boards by matching their online profiles to your personas.
Download our talent relationship management 101 eBook to learn how to identify strong-fit prospects you can add to your candidate pool and build long-term relationships with.