Ginger Nut or Garibaldi? How Personas help you determine your candidate audience's tastes

By Sara MacGregor

I’ve bored my family and friends for years with elaborate plans for a World Cup of biscuits. (Chocolate Hobnobs for the win, obviously.) Sadly, nobody bit. So when TV presenter Richard Osman ran an identical Twitter championship for Comic Relief a couple of years ago, I thought that took the biscuit.

How on earth did a popular celebrity with a reputation for trivia, nearly a million Twitter followers and a tie-in to the nation’s biggest charity event manage to succeed where I had failed? Let’s be honest: it’s not much of a mystery. But it does illustrate the importance of knowing your target audience and what interests them, and that’s where Personas come in.

(Albeit a tenuous link, but I have always wanted to write a blog about my love for biscuits!)

Ditching the cookie-cutter approach

When you’re recruiting, the biggest challenge can be reaching the right people, with the right message, through the right channel. All too often, it’s easy to assume we know what people/potential candidates want, and then when they don’t respond, to present the same message in a different way or to a different audience. To use a biscuit analogy again, it’s like trying to offer people Chocolate Hobnobs when what they really want is a Jammie Dodger.


This is where Persona development can make all the difference

We can find out what candidates want to hear, and how we should deliver that message – whether it’s via LinkedIn, Facebook, a blog post, an e-book or something entirely new. By interviewing the candidates you want to attract, we can construct a detailed picture of their motivations, influences, needs and tastes.

Some interesting insights were uncovered during a particular Persona research project with school leavers and graduates. Our client was noticing a slow uptake of their graduate scheme and could not work out why. Upon delivery of the research, we uncovered this was caused because there were big gaps in their website content and the information supplied to the candidates in the recruitment process.

By changing their messaging and presenting information that mattered to graduates during the attraction and recruitment phase, they saw an uplift in applications. 

Creating exceedingly good communications

By gathering extensive information through interviews, surveys, workshops and further research, we can create a series of Personas representing different individuals – each typifying a group of candidates you want to attract. For each target audience, we create a content strategy that will advise you on the best communication channels, and content themes that will resonate with your audience, and give you insights for content development.

A set of Personas can give you people and personalities you can easily visualise for every area of your business. The suite of talent profiles we put together for a leading finance company spelt out the interests, ambitions and pain points for potential candidates, from aspiring Call Centre Managers to IT Specialists., it puts faces and three-dimensional personalities to abstract target audiences.

That’s the big benefit of Personas – when you see your potential hires as real people, your communications become human and more engaging

A couple of biscuits or the whole pack? Two different options to create your Personas

We can offer Light and Extensive Persona options for different levels of insight to meet your business’s budgets and needs. Both include all the research required to build a clear picture of your target audience, and both deliver a matrix for each Persona showing the channels, messages, content topics, formats and frequency of communication that will stimulate them to respond.

With the Extensive Persona option, we focus on candidates’ longer-term career goals, feelings about corporate values and innate personality traits, and we will brainstorm your communication channel and content theme choices in a workshop involving both your personnel and our creative team. For those harder-to-fill positions, the Extensive Persona route is designed to give you the edge in a competitive marketplace and take you to the next level.

Give it a (Viennese) Whirl

Once you really understand who your candidates are and what makes them tick, you can communicate more clearly and persuasively, and your recruitment team can frame their campaigns around these insights. Over time Personas will profoundly shape the style of your communications, leading to a transformation in results. Your Personas will soon seem like old friends, and you’ll soon be meeting your best candidates for tea (and biscuits).

To see how Personas can revolutionise your recruitment, please email us or give us a call.

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