This post was updated in June 2019.

Today, highly qualified candidates have many choices and are carefully considering their options —71% of employed adults are currently looking for or open to a new job and 90% of employed adults hired in the past year took action to find a job only six months prior to being hired.

This talent pool is active and educated about the job market, and employers need to be aware of how they’re searching for and considering their next opportunity. To attract your ideal candidate, you need an in-depth understanding of what they want on the job and how they plan to get there. Developing a candidate persona is one place to start.

Candidate personas: where marketing meets recruiting

Candidate personas are a research-driven approach to understanding your target talent audience. While marketers use buyer personas as a representation of a business’ ideal customers, recruiters and talent acquisition professionals can create candidate personas to develop a strategy focused on exactly who you need to hire.

Candidate personas can help you create more relevant job content, including job titles and descriptions as well as the information you provide on your career site and other employer branding channels. At the same time, you can better understand which recruitment channels your talent audience prefers. Above all, these personas create alignment across your team so everyone can be on the same page about the most effective sourcing strategies.

Sample candidate persona

How to start creating your candidate personas

Traditional buyer personas are created through research, surveys and interviews of a company’s target customer. Research for your candidate persona can include analysis on current employees, prospective hires and others who might align with your ideal hire. Your findings will help you optimize your job content, become expert marketers for your employment brand and build a strategic sourcing pipeline. Here are three things to consider as you get started:

  • Evaluate your top performers. Use performance data from your HR information system to identify trends in experience, background and career paths for your highest-potential employees. This data may help you shape the experience, background and location of your ideal candidate and future successful hires.
  • Use your own hiring data. Use your source data. How do your best candidates find your jobs? Compare your top sources of hire to those for your top-tier employees so you can focus on optimizing channels that drive the best hires.