What's the difference between a profile and a persona? It could mean the difference between sourcing a top-notch candidate and boring your target audience to tears.
A persona is profile or narrative used to focus messages on a target market. As talent attraction professionals, we use personas in job descriptions, job families, req sourcing strategy profiles, campus allocation, and employer brand messaging. But using them effectively is what will make all the difference.
John Vlastelica presented a simple approach to crafting compelling personas as ways to share opportunities at SourceCon in Atlanta. He emphasized that this approach is about credibility – it's not necessarily about finding people, but it's just as important. Understanding what your target market really is and then customizing a message to reach them will increase your credibility and this effectiveness as a sourcer. And effective sourcers are the ones who bring in what he referred to as "magnet candidates" – the people you can hire away from their company who will bring others along with them.
So what are some of the benefits of persona-based sourcing and job description?
First, John states that personas will move you away from req-level sourcing. These are different "flavors" of what's available within your company and include considerations for personality traits of an exemplary individual – not just what technical qualifications they may present. This will in turn allow for greater candidate pipelining – when you are not tied to one or a handful of reqs when conducting searches, you can paint your organization to prospects with a broader paintbrush. Someone who may not be a fit for a current role may end up being a fit down the road, and may be more compelled to stay connected if they can visualize the kind of "persona" that your team is looking for.
Second, personas allow for better universal understanding of job functions – all the way from C-suite to the recruiter level. By putting a human face on a job description, this will allow not just the talent attraction team to get unified behind what it is they're looking for, but it also provides managers, directors, and even those currently doing similar work to grasp the idea of what the team needs and what kind of person would best fit those roles.
Third, personas will allow your company to differentiate itself on job boards. Lots of job descriptions are written (with heavy input from legal) by managers who may be so far removed from the technical work that the no longer understand the importance of personality and culture fit in addition to the technical aspect – thus, they become boring, drone on about required skills and responsibilities, and don't speak to the heart and soul of what people look for – opportunities to work with a great team on products and/or services that grab their interest. By using persona-based job descriptions, candidates will be more able to actually picture themselves in the roles you have instead of having to go through a mental checklist of "Got that skill…check; missing that responsibility…no-check…"