What is a candidate persona?

In recruitment, a candidate persona refers to a fictional representation of an ideal candidate for a specific job or role within an organisation.

It is created by taking a close look at data about the target candidate group, including:

  • Demographics: Education, experience level, etc.
  • Skills and qualifications: Relevant technical skills, certifications, educational background, etc.
  • Goals and motivations: What the candidate looks for and prioritises in their career, their aspirations, and what motivates them.
  • Challenges and pain points: The obstacles ideal candidates may face during their job search, or in their current roles.
  • Preferred communication channels: The platforms and methods through which candidates are most likely to engage, from social media to email.
  • Personal and professional interests: Hobbies, affiliations, industry associations, or community involvement that candidates may have.
  • Career expectations: Desired job responsibilities, growth opportunities, work environment, and company culture preferences.

Candidate personas are designed to help recruiters and hiring managers gain a deeper understanding of the type of candidates they should be targeting and how to effectively engage with them throughout the hiring process.

Creating candidate personas involves conducting research, analysing job requirements, and gathering insights from current employees, industry professionals, and previous successful hires. The collected information is then used to create a detailed profile that represents the characteristics and attributes of the ideal candidate. Candidate personas should provide a guide for how the company can best appeal to them with their hiring practices and employer brand.

How do you effectively use candidate personas?

When creating candidate personas in recruitment, it’s important to follow certain best practices to ensure you get the most out of your personas.

Here are some best practices for developing your personas:

Conduct thorough research: Gather data from various sources, such as existing employees, industry professionals, surveys, and market research, to ensure the data you base your persona on is from reliable and up-to-date sources.

Use both qualitative and quantitative data: Combine qualitative insights, such as interviews and applicant  feedback, with quantitative data, such as applicant surveys and analytics, to get a comprehensive understanding of your target candidates.

Segment your candidate personas: Consider creating multiple candidate personas to represent different target candidate groups. This segmentation allows you, as a recruiter, to employ more targeted and considered methods. The more personalised the messaging in your promotions, job descriptions, and interview techniques, the better.

Make them realistic and specific: Ensure that your candidate personas reflect the reality of the job market and industry. Avoid creating overly idealised or generic personas without considering the economic and social backdrop to your hiring process, as well as the job search of your candidate.

Keep personas updated: Regularly review and update your candidate personas to reflect changes in the job market, industry trends, and evolving candidate preferences. This will ensure your recruitment strategies continue to serve you well over time in your search for the best suited talent.

Involve stakeholders: Collaborate with hiring managers and other relevant stakeholders within your company to gather insights for your candidate personas. This collaborative approach ensures your personas will be well rounded and offers insight from across the business as to what your company may be lacking when it comes to talent.

Monitor and measure success: Track the performance of your recruitment efforts against the candidate personas. Analyse metrics such as candidate engagement, application rates, and successful hires to evaluate how effective your personas are, as well as areas for improvement. You may find that while you get some of them right on the first try, others need honing down to appeal best to talent you want to catch.


What are some of the long term benefits of successfully used candidate personas?

Using candidate personas in recruitment offers several strengths and benefits, including, but by no means limited to:

Improved Candidate Engagement and Experience

When putting a persona to use, you can carefully customise messaging to resonate with the target candidate. This leads to improved candidate engagement as individuals don’t feel as if they are receiving or viewing generic or lazy communications, leading the top talent to feel more valued and appreciated.

Candidate personas help guide the creation of a positive applicant experience. By utilising your understanding of the needs and expectations of the target candidates, resulting in a positive perception of the organization and an improved employer brand.

Increased Efficiency

By focusing on the specific personas of candidates, you can streamline their recruitment efforts and allocate resources more effectively. They can focus on the channels and methods that are most likely to reach the candidate with the skill and experience needed, saving time, resource, and effort.

Improved Employer Branding

Candidate personas help recruiters align their recruitment methods with their employer brand. By weaving their carefully considered values, culture, and opportunities into everything from the job description to the interview scheduling, you can attract the candidate who will align with the company values and aspirations.

Learn how to create a great Employee Value Proposition to position yourself competitively to the ideal candidate here.

Informed Decision-Making

A high quality candidate persona can provide valuable insights that aid in decision-making during the hiring process. Recruiters can use the personas to evaluate their talent pool based on their alignment with the skill set and mindset needed to integrate with and perform well at your organisation, resulting in more informed and data-driven hiring decisions.

Higher Quality Hires

By attracting a candidate who closely matches the desired persona, recruiters increase the chances of making higher quality hires. Candidates who align with the persona are more likely to tick more of your boxes when it comes to becoming an employee with the required skills and qualifications, compared to if you had to carried out your hiring practices with your persona in mind.

Overall, candidate personas provide a strategic framework that empowers recruiters to optimise their hiring efforts, as well as improve candidate experiences. By leveraging the strengths of candidate personas, organisations can attract, engage, and hire the right talent more effectively.

If you would like to find out more about how Hireserve’s ATS could boost your recruitment and candidate engagement, book a demo today.

About the author

Hannah Elliott