When you have the time and resources to stay on top of recruiting staff for your company, it’s still a challenging job. But when sudden vacancies occur, efforts—and stress—kick into overdrive. But what if there was a better way to be prepared, whether or not you had the opportunity to foresee staffing needs? There is—if you borrow some tactics from the marketing department and develop personas of your ideal prospective employees.



What Are Employee Personas?


Marketers have long used this approach to better target their efforts: developing personas of fictionalized typical customers. By identifying the characteristics, interests, buying habits, and more, of these target customers, marketers are able to better allocate marketing dollars and increase actual results (such as leads and sales). In the recruiting world, this approach aims to develop mutually beneficial descriptions: the ideal candidate will be an asset to the company but will also enjoy fulfilling work. While the approach in Human Resource terms isn’t about consumer “wants,” there’s no doubt that happy and fulfilled staff are simply better employees.



How Many Personas Do You Need?


Well, how many types of candidates do you have? Choosing the number of personas to create can tempt you to go overboard, and there’s no simple answer as to how many you need. You need as many as, well, you need. But there are parameters to keep you on track. You should be learning from prospects and even existing employees information about:



  • Demographics
  • Employment, educational, and social background
  • Skills, technological/software knowledge, and interpersonal work experience
  • Goals and fears
  • Why they don’t (or wouldn’t, if currently on staff) work for you
  • Preferred forms of communication and information-gathering


These types of information give you great insight into who is attracted to your company—and attractive to you. It can also expose weaknesses in how you’ve recruited in the past and whether your recruiting efforts are adequately competitive compared to similar companies (inside and outside your industry).


It’s natural to expect that personas may split along generational lines (presuming you’re open to hiring across age ranges), but they may also subdivide based on career goals, education, and skills or experience. However, the information you glean from interviewing employees and candidates doesn’t require you to accept all results as viable candidates. In fact, the point is to understand better what you need (and what you need to offer) to recruit the candidates that best match your culture and business goals. Ultimately, you will develop one or more composites—likely based not only on a good cultural fit but the requirements of the position—that look something like this:



This is Marie Johns, a 38-year-old native Chicagoan. She’s been an accountant for 5 years at a Fortune 500, and has 15 years total experience. She’s hungry to grow her career and take on new opportunities, while also pursuing outside creative interests, so work flexibility and balance are important to her. She’s married with 2 kids and fosters rescue dogs.



How Do You Recruit According to Personas?


Because this approach comes from marketing, you might think it will drive you to “sell” your jobs to everyone who reaches out… or even walks by. But to the contrary—the goal is to filter a better selection of candidates to your HR doors. Your jobs aren’t right for everyone. You are looking for specific skills but also so much more. Highly skilled candidates that fit into your culture are a unique group, and using personas is the most effective way to create a blueprint by which to measure prospects by. Your company and your prospective employees will thank you for taking the time, doing the research, and making an effort to understand who you are, who they are, and who is the best fit.

Need assistance identifying personas? We can help.


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