How to Craft Hiring Personas: Best Practices

It’s essential for companies to have a strategic approach to hiring as the war for talent wages on. One important step in developing your recruitment strategy is creating hiring personas. In layman’s terms, Hiring Personas are fictional representations of your ideal job candidates. While the terminology may be construed as discriminatory at first, in reality, the process simply allows you to assess your job requisitions skills needed to do the jobs efficiently and map those positions to work experience, education, skills, and certifications to develop a blueprint for your perfect hire.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of creating hiring personas and provide practical advice for getting started.

Why Create Hiring Personas?

Hiring personas can help you streamline your recruitment efforts, cut down on time-to-fill, and improve the quality of your hires. By having a clear understanding of your ideal candidate for your different positions, you can tailor your job postings, marketing outreach, social media activity, and interview questions.

This customized approach improves the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts across all channels and will help you to attract the most qualified candidates in the quickest amount of time.

How to Create Hiring Personas:

While understanding the concept and value behind it is one thing, developing effective hiring personas isn’t quite so simple. It requires research, testing, analysis, optimizations, and collaboration. Conducting research the best place to get started:

Market Research – By researching your industry and competitors within the set, you’ll gain a better understanding of the market and identify your niche. Get online and see who your competitors are targeting, what the messaging looks like, which channels they are leveraging, and the skills, certifications, and experience they’re hiring for. This can help you learn from what is already working at other companies, and identify areas of opportunities for you to jump on. Here are some of the things your executive teams are asking:

    1. Who are your competitors?
    2. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
    3. What type of media are they leveraging?
    4. Which talent pools are they recruiting from?
    5. What are the trends in your industry?
    6. Are there geographical locations being targeted more than others?
    7. What are the educational requirements at similar companies?
    8. What platforms do they utilize?
    9. What’s being discussed in the news regarding your industry?

There are a number of ways you can gather the needed information including interviews with current employees, surveys of industry professionals, focus groups, and online research.

Internal Research – A good place to get started is with your job descriptions. If you don’t already have them in place, creating thorough job descriptions allows you to pinpoint the exact skills and experience needed for your various roles. Here’s what you’ll need to know: 

    1. Position Overviews
    2. Hard and Soft Skills Required
    3. Job Experience
    4. Years of Experience Required
    5. Education Level Required
    6. Certifications/Credentials Required
    7. Physical Requirements
    8. Language Requirements

It’s important to note that during the process the goal is to identify what makes up the ideal hire for specific roles, not to discriminate or disqualify potential candidates. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion in your hiring process will lead to more collaborative and well-rounded teams.

Now it’s time to put all of that research to use. Use the data you’ve gathered to develop fictional representations of your ideal candidates for each role you’re hiring for. Each persona should have a job title, and a detailed description of their skills, experience, and qualifications. If you have the ability to include information about their values, interests, and personality traits, it will only help with the success of your efforts.

Example Exercise: 

Now let’s look at a practical example. For this exercise, let’s say I’m hiring for a mid-level position on my marketing team. Here’s what a general persona might look like:

  • Job Title – Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Soft Skills –
    • Excellent Communication Skills
    • Creativity
    • Ability to Multitask
    • Attention to Detail
    • Time Management
    • Strategic Thinking
    • Problem-Solving
    • Writing
  • Hard Skills –
    • Search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
    • Social media marketing
    • Content marketing
    • Email marketing
    • Marketing automation
    • Data analysis
    • Graphic Design
  • Experience –
    • 3+ years in digital marketing
    • Previous experience with Advertising Agency preferred
  • Qualifications –
    • Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Marketing or Communications
    • Google Ad’s Certification
    • Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Certification

Once you’ve put in the leg-work and crafted your Ideal Hiring Personas, you have your blueprints in-hand and can start to customize your marketing efforts based on the characteristics of your perfect employees. Now that you’ve identified your target audience, you can cater your content and message across all channels: social media, email, paid advertising, job postings, interview questions, and your company website just to name a few.

The goal of hiring personas is to help attract, hire, and retain the best possible candidates for your positions, company culture, and values. Start streamlining your recruitment efforts by incorporating hiring personas into your process and ultimately, start hiring better-quality employees quicker.

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