What would the world be like if we were all identical? Might I suggest not great.

Diversity is a strength of the human race; it ensures that we have people like Einstein who push our civilization forward, and people like your friendly neighborhood trash man who keep things running smoothly in the meantime.

But diversity brings with it complexity. As a recruiter you know full well that what works for one candidate won’t necessarily work for another. The personalities, motivations and inclinations of jobseekers cover a broad spectrum, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that’ll see you placing every single one.

There is, however, a strategy that’ll help you place more.

We’ve talked about the importance of segmentation before; grouping similar candidates together in order to better understand them, interact with them and place them.

In real terms, segmentation helps you to:

  • Define the tone and topics of your content and communications: If you segment your talent pool based on experience, for example, your language will change depending on whether you’re speaking to novices or veterans.
  • Enhance and focus your content strategy: If segmentation of your ATS reveals a need for a particular type of candidate, content can be created to attract more of these professionals.
  • Hone your job board messaging: Find the call to action that works best with each segment, and use these customized CTAs on your careers site.

The argument for segmentation is a compelling one. But what are the means to these ends? While segmentation is a broad strategy, there’s one pillar within it that arguably bears more weight than the others: that of the candidate persona.

What is a candidate persona?

Candidate personas are fictional representations of the perfect fit for a role, designed to put a face and a name to the many individuals that sit within a segment of your database. They are an blend of your best candidates into a sort of super candidate; one that embodies all that you are looking for in an ideal hire. This is usually displayed in a brief, single page bio that gives the persona a stock model’s face, a name, and offers insights into the persona’s personal and professional life – skills, experience, motivations, goals, fears, behaviors and personality.

As we laid out in a recent post, constructing a candidate persona is a simple enough task – your firm will gather data from stakeholders, identify trends and commonalities within that data, and then develop the personas from the insights. While an upfront investment of resources is required, this outlay will soon be returned with interest.

Why are candidate personas important to segmentation?

“What’s the value of a sheet of paper with failed model and a hilarious fake name at the top of it?” you may ask.

Humans are good at human stuff. Computers are good at computer stuff. While segmenting your database will group similar candidates together, and analytics will be able to offer you raw data on things like the group’s age, education, experience, skill set and location, translating this data into actionable insights – the type that’ll help you define the tone and topics of your content and communications, focus your content strategy and hone your job board messaging – can be difficult. Humans aren’t good at zeroes and ones.

What we are good at is empathizing with something that resembles ourselves. By crafting a candidate persona, and putting a face and a name to the data, you’ll actually be interacting with someone. Sure, they might be called Chris P. Bacon and have a face that you’re pretty sure you’ve seen on the packaging of knock-off electronics, but for all intents and purposes they’re a person. You can now direct your communications, content and job boards at them, and by doing so you’ll have a greater chance of resonating with the real candidates who helped to form the persona.

Your candidate pool is diverse, and using a single strategy for all will be ineffective. But on the flip-side, treating every single candidate like the unique snowflake they are would be wildly inefficient. Segmentation offers a happy middle ground, dividing your database into sections that are more specific, but that remain manageable. Candidate personas then help you to wrap your head around these segments, and speak to them in the most effective way possible.

The human race is diverse, and diversity brings complexity. But the likes of Chris P. Bacon can help to make things a whole lot simpler, for recruiters at least.