Whenever I speak about social recruiting—whether it’s one-on-one with a client or to group at a conference—I inevitably get asked questions about what it really is and how to get started. I recognize that it can be intimidating. There are so many differing opinions out there as to how effective it is, what’s involved, where to start, etc.
What I’ve come to realize, after struggling for a simple answer for a long time, is that one of the most important, foundational pieces of a successful social recruiting strategy is something that most HR and recruiting professionals are already using. That seems like a good place to start.
That something is an ideal candidate profile. In our recent 2015 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey, 75% of HR professionals said they’re currently using ideal candidate profiles as part of their recruiting process. This is something that’s been espoused in the profession for years as a way to create a target that you can measure candidates against and have a way to make an objective hiring decision.
The majority of you who are creating these profiles are already on your way to creating what I believe is a critical piece in any social recruiting strategy. To take the candidate profile and transform it into a tool to drive your social recruiting strategy, all you need to do is evolve it into what I call The Employee Persona.
How the Employee Persona Differs from Candidate Profiles
A candidate profile may be something like a modified version of your job description with added elements to identify key characteristics required for success. Many of our clients use our system to create what’s called a Job Profile to add those behavioral or personality traits that are most likely to predict future success.
The Employee Persona takes it a step farther to create a more 3-dimensional portrait of your ideal candidate. It’s borrowed from the Buyer Persona, a tool marketers use to accurately target potential customers.
Employee personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal employees for a given role. They help you understand your candidates better, and make it easier for you to tailor your approach to courting them. Think of them as detailed portraits of the people you wished you could attract.
These portraits ideally consist of a description written in the first person that sounds something like this:
"Hi, I'm Susan, the director of IT Infrastructure in <whatever> company. I’ve got a couple of big projects under my belt and I’ve just been promoted. I like my job, but I just wish the company’s environment was more pro-IT with people who wanted to work with us as partners. I love rolling up my sleeves and really digging into a challenge … etc.”
Writing in the first person makes your personas more engaging and allows you to better put yourself into that person’s shoes when you're using the persona to develop content to attract your ideal candidates.
The strongest employee personas are based on research as well as on insights you gather from your actual top performers (through surveys, interviews, etc.).
What Goes into an Employee Persona?
The Employee Persona contains many of the same elements of an ideal candidate profile, plus some additional ones. I’d recommend at a minimum, you include:
Background/Experience (job, career path, skills, etc.)
Demographics (age, lifestyle, where they live, etc.)
Behavioral traits (driven, analytical, independent, etc.)
Goals (career, personal)
Challenges (what keeps them up at night)
Objections (why wouldn’t they work for you)
Elevator Pitch (sell your persona on your employer brand and the role)
How Employee Personas Help Your Social Recruiting Strategy
At the most basic level, employee personas allow you to personalize your messaging for different types of candidates. What a high-performer in IT is looking for in an employer may be very different than a high-performer in finance. The Employee Persona helps you tailor your approach and how you position your company for each persona.
Employee personas tell you what keeps these people up at night, what their goals are, where they look for solutions and support, and what social networks they may belong to.
Here are a few suggested ways to use your personas to court passive candidates:
Identify employees with the same persona and use them to help connect with these candidates
Create a presence in the social networks where these candidates spend time
Use the language your personas use in all content, job descriptions and ads
Create persona-specific career landing pages on your website
Write your job descriptions to appeal to your personas dreams and counter their frustrations
Develop content that speaks to your personas hopes, desires and interests. Position your company (if it’s true) as the answer to their dreams
Advanced Pro Tip
If you’re feeling like you’ve mastered use of the employee persona, try developing negative personas to compliment them. These personas paint the picture of the candidates you don’t want. If you take the time to create negative personas, you’ll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your candidates, which can help you reduce the number that you attract and even speed up your selection process.
What do you think? Do you see a place for employee personas in your recruiting? Or do you have a better method?