How a Candidate Persona Differs from a Job Description?

In our blog-post Searching For New Employees? Define Your Candidate Personas For Best Result, we defined what a candidate persona is and how could it be developed by internal recruitment teams.

However, when we start to think a little more deeply about candidate personas, many people tend to ask the same question: if a candidate persona is a fictional representation of your ideal hire for a specific role, how it is actually different from a simple job description or a job advertisement for that role?

This is a fair question! And, at first blush, these two very different tools could overlap to some degree. But one essential aspect of a candidate persona that distinguishes it from a job description is this: it’s based on as much real data as possible, along with educated guesses about experience, goals, motivations and concerns.

You might be asking why recruiters should be concerned about or interested in things like a candidate’s personal goals, motivations and concerns. Shouldn’t recruiters only focus on a candidate’s professional background and her/his ability to meet a job’s requirements?

The answer is … NO! And that’s why a candidate persona so much more than a mere job description. So let’s review the main differences between candidate personas and job descriptions or advertisements.

The Power of a Great Candidate Persona

Candidate persona development is the first and essential step when implementing any proactive hiring strategy. Creating a candidate persona description is a starting point for launching other important hiring activities including recruitment marketing, content creation (such as expert content, employee blog-posts, e-books and job descriptions) and recruitment communication.

You create personas before developing individual job descriptions and ads, writing social media updates, sending emails or even conducting your first candidate search because a well-defined persona can help you tailor your messaging to the exact individual you’re trying to reach. By applying this research-driven approach to understanding your target talent audience, you can form a full 360-degree view of the characteristics, skills and traits that define your ideal candidate and make up your perfect hire. So, once again, developing a candidate persona is the first step prior to all of your recruitment activities.

Once you’ve developed clear, data-driven candidate personas, you’ll find it much easier to create truly relevant, engaging and effective recruitment content (downloadable articles, reports, webinars, events, etc.), job descriptions and ads — all of which will increase the number of recruitment leads and applications your company receives. Why? Because persona development is an informed analysis of a specific segment of your target candidates. For example, let’s say you tend to hire lots of Scala developers, Agile Project Managers and Business Development professionals. Do you think all those people could be found and attracted by using the same methods, content, communication style, forms and channels? Obviously not. Content that is interesting and engaging to programmers very likely won’t attract chatty sales professionals. Therefore, you have to create three separate candidate personas — one for Scala developers, one for Agile Project Managers and one for Business Development professionals. Once you’ve done so, you can then create effective, tailored talent attraction materials for open positions in any and all of these three roles.

Candidate personas give you the insights and perspectives you need to:

  • create more relevant job descriptions, ads and even job titles for candidates;
  • frame your messaging to align with candidates’ goals and motivations;
  • use language that resonates strongly with your audience and their interests and purpose;
  • know where to advertise your specific recruitment content and jobs and focus on the highest-performing channels;
  • tackle your candidates’ pain points and concerns and start to build lasting, long-term relationships with them;
  • position your company as an ideal place to work for your target audience, rather than just anyone and everyone;
  • and finally, get your IDEAL candidates excited about your open opportunities.

The Purpose of Job Descriptions

Typically, job descriptions (and advertisements) simply describe a role and what a candidate is expected to do in that particular role. It’s one form of your external talent communication — a tool basically intended to pull people from one stage of the candidate journey (Consideration) to another (Decision). It really doesn’t help you build widespread awareness of your employment brand, showcase your company culture or distinguish you effectively from other employers. To accomplish those important goals, you need to develop other types of employment content.

One final difference between a candidate persona and a job description: a candidate persona is a strategic document about targeted talent/recruitment audiences, one that’s designed purely for a recruitment team’s usage. While candidate persona development helps you understand your perfect hires and build ideal candidate journeys for them, job advertisements help to attract and engage the right recruitment audience — but only when they’re ready to consider actually working for you and making a decision on a particular job.

If you want to create the most effective job ads and descriptions possible, make sure they’re based on candidate personas rather than a simple list of responsibilities and expectations. This also ensures that your job ads: 1) actually link to your overall recruitment marketing strategy … 2) effectively engage your targeted audiences … and 3) convert candidates to applicants.

What could be your take outs? Always seek for stories behind given that many realities are hidden behind the wall of perception Toba Beta.

Rima Barceviciute, Customer Success Manager @Candarine & Inbound Recruitment Marketing enthusiast



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