using candidate personas in recruiting

How to Use Candidate Personas in Your Recruiting

One often-overlooked and underutilized idea for a great career page is candidate personas. Just like you create an ideal buyer persona, a candidate persona is a great exercise to understand who your ideal employees are.

With an ever-growing remote workforce and an abundance of open jobs, understanding your potential future employees is crucial. It is more important now than ever for your recruiting marketing to be as effective as it can be. By using candidate personas, you can successfully target the right candidates and produce content (like videos!) that resonates with them – saving you time, money, and resources.

What is a Candidate Persona?

According to Indeed, “candidate personas are a research-driven approach to understanding your target talent audience. While marketers use buyer personas as a representation of a business’ ideal customers, recruiters and talent acquisition professionals can create candidate personas to develop a strategy focused on exactly who you need to hire.

Candidate personas can help you create more relevant job content, including job titles and descriptions as well as the information you provide on your career site and other employer branding channels. At the same time, you can better understand which recruitment channels your talent audience prefers. Above all, these personas create alignment across your team so everyone can be on the same page about the most effective sourcing strategies.”

Questions to Help you Create a Candidate Persona

When creating your candidate persona, consider these things:

  • Who is the perfect fit for the role? What are their demographic characteristics? Educational background? Career path?
  • What are the most relevant channels to reach them? How do they find new information? What publications or websites do they read? What associations are they members of?
  • What content are they interested in? Blogs? Social media? Email?
  • What are their biggest challenges? Personally? Professionally?
  • How do they prefer to communicate?
  • What is their job search process like? What information are they looking for when applying for a job?
  • What are their most common objections?
  • What do they value? What are their interests?
  • What does a typical work day look like for them?
  • What skills do they need to have?
  • What are their goals for their role?
  • What is their current income?

 Candidate Persona


Where to Find Candidate Persona Information

Now that you know what you want to know, where do you find this information?

A great start is asking and collecting data on your current employees. An easy way to do this would be a poll or setting up a meeting/virtual call with newer staff. I learned so much great information when I had a staff call to help our copywriter re-write our careers page.

Integrate this process in your on-boarding. What better way to learn about your ideal candidate than talking to your newest hires as they onboard! If you don’t already have time on their onboarding schedule, ask for 15 minutes or so to interview them and welcome them to the firm.

Once you’ve exhausted your internal resources, mine data from LinkedIn profiles of candidates. They can provide a wealth of valuable information including employment history, qualifications, the type of content they engage with and the LinkedIn groups they are members of.

Another option is targeted surveys. Team up with a local university and poll their junior and senior students. Offer an incentive to encourage participation.

What Now?

Now that you have your candidate personas (be sure to make them for different departments and levels of staff!), you can incorporate them in your recruiting strategy. Use your personas to inform each aspect of your recruiting process, from the language you use in your job description to the questions you ask during the interview.

Grove and LinkedIn both have great free downloadable templates here:

About Rachael McGrew

Rachael McGrew is the Business Development Director for Landmark CPAs, one of Arkansas’ largest accounting firms. In her role, she wears many hats, including overseeing the firm’s marketing and business development strategy, managing internal and external communications, maintaining the firm’s social media and web presence, planning and executing firm events and community outreach programs, coordinating recruiting campaigns, and serving on industry association committees.

Rachael is the co-chair of the AAM Minute and leads the AAM Hubspot Circle. She is a graduate of the Leadership Fort Smith program, an Arkansas Business and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree, and a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas’ Western Council.

Rachael McGrew on LinkedIn

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Alison on July 27, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Rachel,

    You have a clever idea here to apply the thought process of a buyer persona to the recruiting process. There are a couple of ideas you share that I think could be slightly shifted to be more inclusive.

    Maybe instead of “demographic characteristics” and “educational background” you’d consider “personal characteristics” instead. This will allow the firm to think more broadly about potential new hires in terms of age, background, race, ethnicity, differently abled, LGBTQI+, parental status, career changers, etc., while still hiring people who share your firm’s values such as having a positive attitude, focus on “we” vs “I”, or enjoy helping others, or whatever they may be. (I would avoid things like “like going out after hours to social events” because that may be difficult for parents of young children or anyone who supports a family member with additional needs.)

    Secondly, if you’re getting started by “collecting data on your current employees” you may run into confirmation bias. You’ll continue to hire more people who look and behave like those around you, which won’t do much to expand your horizons to new possibilities.

    We all know how hard recruiting is, so let’s cast as wide a net as possible and welcome as many people into our profession as possible to benefit our firms and the future of public accounting!

    Thanks for your article!

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