How To Segment Applicants To Hire Right Talent

Every hiring manager wants to get the most out of hiring to make it effective. From the job requisition to hiring and having a candidate on board, the hiring manager is bound to put in his best. But from the time the wheels are set in motion for the hiring process, it is assumed that the candidates we approach or one the ones that approach us after seeing the requisition are waiting for the hiring manager to hire them.

Nope, not at all. The fact remains that the recruitment market is candidate-driven, and as a talent leader you need to recognize that your target an applicant is not being approached by just you alone, but others as well. Sometimes, the slip happens just between the cup and lips. A combination of great timing, a secure recruitment strategy, and recruitment marketing is the key to effective hiring

Understanding who the applicant is the first step towards ensuring that you win at this game of recruitment by getting away with stellar applicants. We call this Applicant Persona or Talent Persona. This is not a new term – they were first introduced in the 1980s. There are many simple models to recognize these applicant persona groups. No, you don’t need the Sorting Hat from Hogwarts to recognize applicant persona groups. Having said that, the tactic is somewhat similar. Just as the Sorting Hat grouped/segmented the students based on their qualities and skills, you need to do the same with your applicants to weave that magic for your recruiting process so that it becomes easier and faster and lands you the perfect to the near ideal candidate that you are looking for.

Do I Really Need Applicant Personas?

Yes, you do, though you don’t realize it or know about but do not underestimate its importance. When it comes to recruitment, candidates are hiring managers’ clientele. It is important that they market the job or position to the candidate. Recruitment Marketing – that is what it is called. To market the job opening, it is very important that applicant personas are recognized. The accurate identification of these groups and an associated recruiting process for each group contributes to how the applicant will respond to your open jobs.

Companies have different hiring needs or different job openings and the talent manager or the recruiter will be talking to candidates from a variety of fields. The talent manager will be speaking to an IT candidate who will be different from the Accountant candidate that the company or the manager is planning to talk to for the next open position in the company. True, companies do have an Employee Value Proposition (EVP), but then the marketing message needs to be custom-made based on who is receiving it. That can be done only when you know their unique needs or their personas.

In fact, you can have an applicant persona types for every department in your firm. Why not? If it brings about the change that you want to see in your recruitment process, it is worth it. From the way you word your job advertisement to where you place the ad (both physical and virtual) to everything about the job – benefits, requirements (as you create personas you realize you could get better candidates than what you previously anticipated or wanted), literally – everything. It could be the manna from heaven for your recruitment process.

Groups? Applicant Persona Groups? What Are They?

Call Applicant Persona the dream candidate you want to hire for a particular role in your company/firm. It is a representation of your ideal job candidate. Applicant persona groups consist of the “kind” of people you are looking to hire. They are a community of people who are likely to switch their jobs and have distinct needs and behavior. They come from all walks of life (as do real candidates) and are available or active on different platforms such as LinkedIn (especially, if they are in a senior role), job boards like Monster, Indeed, Shine (mostly those in a junior role). They have the skill set that you want in the people you would like to hire; some of them have niche skills and are available through reference. Just like regular candidates, they have a preference for different hiring experience (such as senior management people like personalized pitching, a junior level would prefer a walk-in-interview, etc.). The EVP they prefer is also different and ranges from high salary to a challenging job to perks to upward position changes.

These Applicant Persona groups are the ultimate tool in recruitment marketing. They are not created on a whim and fancy. These persona groups are based on research (and are similar to buyer personas for business) and are created to develop a strategy focused on exactly who you need to hire in a similar role. These persona groups help you create relevant job content such as job titles, descriptions, etc.

So Now We Have Applicant Persona Types As Well?

Oh yes, we do. Remember what we told you, previously, about how every candidate has different likes and dislikes and the applicant persona sums up your idea of an ideal candidate? It is easy to create these types based on a simple formula of Position Value vs. Hiring Complexity. So you can have a combination such as:

  • High Value/High Complexity (these personas will have niche skills and will be at a higher position within the company and will have specific likes and dislikes and may not be easier to hire and will have specific watering holes)
  • High Value/Low Complexity (persona with trending skills)
  • Low Value/Low Complexity (personas with commodity skills)

Great – How Do We Create An Applicant Persona?

Creating an Applicant Persona is a complex process. Once you decide you want to go for an Applicant Persona Group to help you with recruiting, the first thing is:

  • Determine the value of the position of the persona that you are creating
    • Includes seniority, salary-level, selection panel seniority, position sensitivity/confidentiality of the position
  • Determine the hiring complexity of the position of the persona that you are creating
    • Includes the availability, hiring experience expectations, demand in the industry for such skills, selection criteria complexity, expected offer, dropout ratio, etc.

As previously mentioned, applicant personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews. Once you determine the position value and hiring complexity for the persona, go in for the research. Current employees, prospective hires, people in your personal and professional network who have a good understanding on the topic would be ideal research subjects. Other methods include evaluating performers within the department or company, using hiring data. The survey and research data should give you an insight into:

Demographic: This data helps you understand age, job title, location, willingness to relocate, educational interests, workplace flexibility, work-life balance, and income aspects

Background: Data related to current and previous experience would help you build the story around your persona convincingly.

Experience: This helps you gain a deeper insight into their experience, specialty areas, skill sets, competencies, etc.

Goals and Fears: This is what makes the persona human – their aspirations, goals, pain points, personal insight into what motivates them in a job – money, position, perks, etc.

Objections: This is something that comes from surveying candidates who took up jobs elsewhere or very new hires – what was the point at which they decided not to go for your company, their insecurities, etc.

Information: This part is crucial. This is the survey that is related to decision making as to what motivates your persona to make decisions about accepting or rejecting a job. This helps you explore the source of the candidate – as to where they are online – social forums, job boards. This will also give you an insight into where you need to publish your applicant persona.

Once you have done the survey and collected the data, it is the time to analyze it, find commonalities to create the Applicant Persona. Though the persona is a representation of your ideal candidate, go ahead and have a little fun when creating the persona so that you make it more realistic. Give a name, add in a picture or photograph, some unique characteristics, etc. Because you need the best candidate for your open position it doesn’t make sense to build an ambiguity around the persona.

Once you know the applicant persona groups and have created it, it is time to design the rest of the recruiting strategy blocks for each of the applicant persona groups to maximize the effectiveness of the talent acquisition function. Applicant personas help you better allocate your recruitment resources and budget and deliver a higher return on investment on your recruitment strategy.

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