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How Understanding Candidate Personalities Helps You to Attract the Right Talent

How Understanding Candidate Personalities Helps You to Attract the Right Talent

While planning your recruitment needs, you’ll likely define the skills and experience that the right candidate should have. But have you ever thought about what their hobbies are, or what their favourite TV series might be? Nowadays, it’s critical for organisations to be smarter when it comes to hiring, else they risk missing out on top talent.

Simply putting an advert up on a job board and hoping that the right candidates apply isn’t enough anymore. By creating a profile of the ideal candidate you’re looking for, you can tailor your talent search more effectively and get the right talent on board faster.

To achieve this, we can take some great learnings from the marketing sector. Marketers have long been trying to understand both how their target audience behaves and what an individual person’s needs are. A ‘persona’ is a fictional (but realistic) description of the target audience or end user that marketers use to get a better idea of who they’re marketing to. Visualising of the end customer helps marketing specialists to see a real person behind the data, gaining an understanding of what the customers want, how they feel, what their typical day looks like, what media they consume and where and when to target them.

Personas in Recruitment

So, how do personas work? Well, imagine if you knew your candidates like you know your friends. You’d call them by name, know what their hobbies are, and know about their life priorities and career aspirations. This knowledge makes it easier for you to be aware of which part of a job is the most attractive, or what perks are the most valuable to them. For example, a job advert that feels like it was written by somebody who knows you will stand out because it goes beyond the usual recruitment clichés. These job adverts will almost always get more high quality replies than ‘standard’ adverts, increasing the viability of the candidates coming through as well as being a good branding exercise; just a quick example of how this persona concept can be effective in recruitment.

You don’t have to be a marketer to build personas, either. On paper, your candidate personas can be as simple as a fictional person with a name, an image that helps you to visualise who they are, and a few bullet points about their lifestyle and career. Here are a few things that will help you to get the most out of your personas:

Figure out who you are looking for: This is something that you’ll have to do any time a vacancy opens up. Obviously, you’ll need to define skills, qualifications and experience, but having an idea of the kind of personality you’re looking for can bring you closer to the right person. If your messaging is geared towards a certain kind of personality, then it’s a better bet that you’re attracting people who have the same values as your company. This increases the chance that you’ll hire someone who is a cultural fit, in addition to having the right skills for the job.

Speak their language: Being able to write your job adverts and tailor your content to their voice or expectation is a great tool. For example, in some industries you might encounter a lot of jargon or slang. Is this also the case in your organisation? Is it something that your ideal candidate would use frequently, or something that they would be trying to avoid? These are the small touches that can make your persona feel like a real person. Reflecting this voice in your messaging will make potential candidates feel like you’re speaking to them, as well as giving them a far better idea of whether they would fit in with your company culture.

Divide and conquer: Job boards are a powerful tool, but it’s not where most people spend their time online. Think about what channels your ideal candidate is going to be using online (for example, social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram; or other media like news or special interest websites), and ask yourself how much time they spend on each one and what they use each channel for, can give you a great insight into the best way to target your ideal candidate.

As an example, if the person you’ve created is an IT specialist called John; a working father of 3 school-age kids, living in Tauranga, who likes tramping and isn’t intensively looking for a job right now, then it’s unlikely that you’ll reach him through a job board. You can, however, catch his attention when he’s browsing outdoor sites and forums, looking for inspiration on where to take his family for a weekend adventure. With a creative job advertisement that fits the context of the particular website, and his particular interest, you can inspire John to click and apply for a job – or at least make him think about it.

Here's another example of what your personas could look like.


An added benefit of diversifying your advertising channels is that by utilising the Google Ad Words network, you only pay for the people who click on your advert or listing, making it easy to evaluate the efficiency of your approach and change it accordingly, or to stop it completely if it isn’t working. Most channels are reasonably easy to learn, but if you’d like to speak with us at OCG about this, we can definitely help.

Closing Thoughts

The ‘secret formula’ when using new channels to market your jobs is authentic information that tells the audience about the company ‘tribe’ they’re considering joining. The same principle applies for the other tools you might use to attract the right talent, such as your careers webpage. When you have real people in mind, you may realise that you need to use different language and content on these platforms too; content that is geared towards naturally attracting your candidates’ attention and reflecting your company culture.

With top talent getting harder and harder to come by, it’s now more crucial than ever to start playing smarter if you want to continue to attract the best people. It’s no longer enough to just rely on putting an advert on a job board and expect top quality applicants to roll on in. Thinking about your audience and creating personas when hiring is a great way to target the people you’re looking for more effectively, and can also have a positive impact on your brand.
Tags: HR
Pete Dallimore

Pete Dallimore | Sourcing and Marketing Manager

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