How (and Why) to Build a Candidate Profile

There are many strategies available to help you source and recruit the best possible candidates. One resource to help you manage potential hires is building a candidate profile. Learn what a candidate profile is, understand the different ways a candidate profile can assist in recruitment, know how to build a candidate profile and review tips for creating effective candidate profiles. 


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What is a candidate profile? 

A candidate profile is a document that provides a thorough overview of the ideal candidate to fill an open position in your organization. A candidate profile is akin to a job description. In the way that the job description outlines the details of the job and its requirements, the candidate profile outlines the ideal characteristics the best possible employee would display. 


How candidate profiles help in recruitment

Consider these advantages to using candidate profiles in your recruitment process: 


Improves job descriptions

Job descriptions and candidate profiles work in tandem to help sourcers and recruiters find the ideal candidates for your consideration. When you know exactly what type of person you want in the position, it’s much easier to write a job description that describes the education and experiences necessary to perform the job well. 


Maximizes sourcing strategy

Knowing specifics about your ideal candidate, such as their level of education and prior work experience, will help you better strategize your candidate sourcing. Your sourcers or recruiters can focus on hiring channels that will produce candidates as described in your candidate profile rather than looking at every available recruiting channel in the hopes of finding someone with the skills listed in the job description. 


Produces better outcomes

Ultimately, creating a candidate profile should lead to an improved hiring cycle and better employees. Using a candidate profile should allow your recruiting team to find higher quality potential candidates, ensuring you select the best possible employee for the position. 


How to build a candidate profile 

Building a candidate profile takes research and consideration. Use these steps to help you design the ideal candidate profile for any open positions in your organization: 


1. Establish primary job duties

The first step is to determine the primary job duties of the open position. Speak with any current employees in the same role about their day-to-day responsibilities and any less frequent duties or as needed duties. If there are no other employees in the role, consult the position’s supervisor or any other direct reports. You might also look to competitor’s job descriptions to see what other duties you might want to include in the role. 


2. Think about the company culture

The job duties for the open position are only one contributor to the overall candidate profile. Another consideration is your company’s culture, mission and vision. You want a candidate who will mesh well with the current employees and uphold the values you’ve established for the organization. Observe how your current employees interact with one another to help you see what sort of qualities and characteristics would fit well with the company. Review your mission statement and values to help you determine what to look for in a candidate. 


3. Assess your best performing employees

One way to help you establish what an ideal candidate looks like generally for your organization is to look to your current top performers. Of course, the position you’re looking to fill may be in an entirely different department with unrelated duties and responsibilities, but you can still identify and seek out the qualities you admire in your best employees when creating your candidate profile and sourcing new hires. 


4. Identify key skills

Review your list of job duties and responsibilities from step one. Use the list to help you determine exactly which hard and soft skills the candidate needs to perform their job well:

  • Soft skills: These skills are considered non-technical and are often related to social or emotional abilities. Most people have a certain proclivity for some soft skills, like empathy or working as part of a team, but anyone can develop and improve their soft skills.
  • Hard skills: These skills are technical and often directly related to a specific trade or occupation. Most hard skills aren’t inherent and must be learned, so anyone can theoretically develop their hard skills.


5. Write your profile

Take all the information you’ve gathered and write a cohesive document that fully describes your ideal candidate for the open position. You can organize this information however works best for your recruiting team. Some companies like to create a visual chart that makes it easy to see the attributes related to each area, like hard skills, soft skills and job duties. Others prefer a bulleted list of attributes alone, accompanied by a complete job description. Work with your hiring team to structure a document that works best for them and for you. 


6. Determine the best sourcing channels

After establishing a thorough list of the necessary skills and education the candidate needs to succeed in the open position, determine which sourcing channels will likely yield the most applicable candidates for the position you want to fill. For example, if the open position requires extensive experience, focus your efforts on professional social media sites where people list their work experience rather than on college job fairs where candidates are not likely to have much, if any, applicable work experience.


7. Refer to the candidate profile

Use the candidate profile throughout the hiring process. If your company uses the full cycle recruiting model, then you’ll have one person or a small team who will use the profile through each step in the candidate search process. If you have separate employees managing each step in the hiring process, ensure each one has access to the candidate profile and uses it to inform their hiring decisions. 


Tips for creating an effective candidate profile

Use these tips to help you create and utilize an excellent candidate profile: 

  • Know the job: You can select the best possible candidate for a specific position if you know the specific details of the job. Make sure you spend adequate time before making your profile assessing and understanding the position itself. 
  • Identify quirks: Highlight any unique traits you might want in a candidate. They may be specific to the job or to your company, but if they’re unusual, make sure it’s clear on the profile. 
  • Consider the don’t’s: You might include a section on your candidate profile that highlights the things you don’t want in a candidate. This way, if recruiters see these qualities or attributes in a potential candidate, they know right away they’re the wrong fit for the role. 
  • Be realistic: Ensure your hiring team knows it’s unlikely they’ll find a candidate that matches the candidate profile exactly. Remind them they’re looking for a person who embodies the spirit of the profile and who matches the majority of the line items, not necessarily every single one. 

A candidate profile can be a useful tool for your recruiting and hiring staff. Know how to build an effective profile and ensure everyone who has a role in the hiring process takes the time to refer to the candidate profile for positive outcomes. 

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