In my recent SourceCon keynote in Dallas, I shared how our organization has started leveraging personas for our hiring initiatives. If you don’t know what personas are, don’t worry – you are not alone. Simply put, personas are fictional, generalized representations of your target audience. In consumer marketing, the target audience is made up of customers and prospects. For talent acquisition, personas represent your target candidates.
Personas allow you to be more strategic in catering to each target, relate to the talent/client contact that you are trying to attract and recruit, and relate to them as human beings. Personas can be used in the many areas of talent acquisition:
The marketing industry has used personas in many areas of their strategy for years. The key is creating detailed personas based on research – they shouldn’t be made up of weak assumptions, and they are definitely not a “wish list” of traits you want your ideal candidate to have.
To create a persona, gather information from your actual candidates and top performers (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Ideally, you will define the following about your persona:
At SourceCon, someone asked how to gather this information. My recommendation is to work on it daily; have a persona template up on your screen, and throughout the day as you are talking with candidates and top performers, doing research, participating in relevant online groups etc., fill out the sections (see above). In other words, ask questions, pay attention to the answers, and document.
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It does not have to be a daunting task – just start with one. I recommend the following steps to get started:
- Gather information from your candidates
- Interview top performers
- Document and organize your information
- Craft messaging and social media posts
- Test it
- Continuously improve
After you have created your persona, take her for a test drive! Your new persona is a work in progress, and you will likely need to make tweaks and adjustments as you leverage your persona.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried using personas? How has it worked for you?