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Get proactive about finding your dream candidate As the race for top talent heats up, more and more talent pros, HR teams, and business leaders are discovering that traditional recruiting practices just aren’t cutting it anymore. Enter candidate personas. Candidate personas are research-based profiles that help you understand and find exactly who you’re looking to hire for a specific role. They’re proactive recruiting at its best, and are similar to buyer personas, which have been used by marketing teams for decades. But instead of zeroing in on a company’s ideal customer, like buyer personas, candidate personas help you find the perfect hire, whether you’re hiring one person, or hiring multiples of the same role.
The benefits of candidate personas When asked to describe an ideal candidate, a common answer for many talent professionals is “I’ll know them when I see them.” But to find top candidates in a talent-driven economy, you need an understanding of what those candidates are looking for, and that understanding comes from creating personas. By doing so, you’ll know how to reach them and what message will resonate with them, while also improving the following processes: Reducing hiring costs , Reducing time to hire, Increasing employee retention, Strengthening your employer brand
Step 1: Get aligned with your team Talk to your team and reach a consensus about what skills, technical knowledge, and cultural values are needed for the role, and have them identify several top performers in a similar position. Step 2: Interview your top performers Conduct informational interviews with the employees your team identified to find out more about what sets top performers apart from the pack. Step 3: Roll up your sleeves Go through all of your data and interview learnings and begin crafting your personas. Remember to make them as detailed and realistic as possible. Step 4: Share the final persona Once your personas are complete, circle back with your team to make sure they sign off on the final product.
Make continuous improvements Check in with new hires after 30 and 90 days to make sure you’re hiring the right types of employees. Adjust your personas if necessary.
Get aligned with your team. Without alignment from your hiring team, even the most detailed personas will never provide much value. That’s why a good first step in creating powerful personas is to loop in key stakeholders and find out what their ideal candidate would look like. This is where structuring your request is key. Start by setting up a meeting with your team members or sending them an email asking for their input. Additionally, ask them to identify top performers who are currently in the same role you’re hiring for
STEP 2 interview your top performers No one knows more about the role you’re hiring for than the people who are already doing it. So once your team has identified top performers in the same role you’re hiring for, it’s time to interview those employees and get their unique perspective. Before you get started, look at the list of top performers your team provided and dig into their recent performance reviews to get a better idea of why they were identified. From there, schedule one-on-ones to ask what makes them so successful. Remember, the goal of these interviews is to find out what motivates these people, what keeps them up at night, and why they applied to your company in the first place. This information will play an integral role as you craft your personas.
STEP 3 The next step is to craft your actual candidate persona. Here’s where you want to really dig into your interview data to see what trends emerge. How did top performers find your company? Were they employee referrals? Did they come from a major city? These are the key findings that need to find their way into your finished persona. Pull out the trends and let those serve as the basis for your finished product. As you document your personas, don’t be afraid to get creative. Adding a fictitious name can help keep that specific persona top of mind with the rest of your team, and also help make it seem more realistic and threedimensional.
STEP 4 Share the final persona Now that you’ve crafted your persona, it’s time to share the results with the team you originally consulted when you kicked off the process. Don’t be alarmed if some of those stakeholders initially push back when they see your finished persona. If they do, remind them that your candidate persona is backed by real-life data. As you build more candidate personas for the different roles you hire for, you’ll establish a library of personas to choose from. This will help streamline your process and inform each aspect of how you recruit – from the wording of your job descriptions to interview questions.
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