Employee Personas - the key to understand your staff and to attract new high potential talents.

The importance of HR personas

An organization can expect 250 resumes for a corporate job offer on average. Only 4-6 will be invited for an interview, and one will get the job. (Glassdoor)

Furthermore, the typical cost per hire is around 4,000 USD. (SmartRecruiters) These are clear indicators of how time-consuming and costly this process can be.

As a recruiter, your ultimate goal is to find the perfect candidate, which sometimes is a huge challenge. 80% of high potential candidates are not actively looking for a job. This means you have to find them and target them specifically.

To understand them profoundly, you need to create employee personas.

HR personas allow you to streamline the efforts for attracting new staff members. The strategy is built around the employee needs so the team has an exact focus point and guidance in every recruitment process stage.

What is an employee persona?

An employee persona represents an employee cluster with similar needs, characteristics, hobbies, interests, and behaviors. They should be based on real data rather than assumptions to secure accurate information and avoid human bias.

You need to map the job requirements with the candidate’s skills and understand their drivers, language, needs, and motivations. Employee personas will help you make decisions about where to target them, how to approach and talk to them, and how to present your company -whether writing the job description, looking for them on platforms, or placing ads in the right outlets.

How to create an employee persona

The personas should be based on quantitative and, more importantly, qualitative analyses of data to avoid any human bias and identify the most essential and promising clusters. To detect valuable data, organizations can tap into internal as well as external data sources. Internal employee research (conducting interviews and surveys) will help you understand your existing workforce and set future staff parameters.

Equally important is the analysis of publicly available data. As soon as you base the personas on internal data only, you risk to include human bias, which should always be avoided. Listen carefully to what people say about your brand or product or the company’s given position to understand what information is most relevant. An objective analysis is the basis for the success of your personas.

The effect of personas on HR challenges

Let us look at different HR challenges and how your employee persona can assist you.

The effect of HR personas on recruiting costs

Internal recruiting costs
Employee personas could give you an idea of what referral bonuses (cash or prizes) are more attractive to the potential candidates and help you to adjust them accordingly. Also, the interview costs are reduced by only attracting those candidates that are likely to be a good fit and are mapped to the personas.

External recruiting costs
A significant cost factor for HR is advertising (PPC, Job Boards, etc.) to attract the right candidates. The better the understanding of your ideal candidate, the easier it will be to target them. Keywords on recruitment and extremely competitive, and therefore the more defined the candidate profile, the easier the targeting. But even if you reach the right candidates, you need to provide the correct language and message to get their attention, which is easier when you have the personas in front of you. Since the team that places the ads is often not the HR team but the marketing team, it is even more critical to provide them with a clear picture of the candidates to be targeted.

Also, if you work with external recruiters or agencies, providing them with the personas will make it easier for them to track them down, thereby saving time, money, and effort.

Social Media activity
Since 80% of A-level talents are not actively looking for a job, building a compelling social media presence is crucial to get their attention. Tweeting, posting, advertising the message “come work for us” is not gone to the cut. You need to analyze and understand the different personas and tailor your activity and message to focus on career drivers, frustrations about their current employers or management, personal interests, values, or culture.

Persona-based Job descriptions

The job description needs to be written in the same language the employee persona speaks and interacts with—the better the mapping, the bigger the empathy towards the job and the company. Listing the required skills and education is not enough to attract A-level candidates. Instead, it needs to tell a compelling story on how the job matches the persona’s desires and needs. Always remember, it is personalization that builds empathy.

Corporate Influencers

Influencer Marketing itself is nothing new, but actively building corporate influencers is. Identifying employees that can help spread the word about your company and communicate values and vision can be a powerful tool to attract new employees and customers. HR needs to work closely with the marketing team and have employee personas in place to help everyone involved in making the right decisions.

Career Website

Like your ads, the career website and job description should address the employee personas’ exact needs, wants, and pain points. Move away from talking about a generic vision or values. Focus on how the company can provide the foundation for realizing their goals, conquering their frustrations, and helping with their needs.

The same concept behind customer-centricity, meaning building the offers, communication, etc., around the individual customer clusters, should be applied to your HR strategy. If you have identified multiple employee personas, you should have unique plans in place accordingly. Creating different landing pages, the same way marketers do for other clients, is key. It allows you to focus on what is most important to a particular employee cluster. Since there are numerous leadership styles, highlighting what you expect and what you do not want will narrow down the pool of potential employees and therefore decrease the screening work for you.

Benefit from Employee Personas in HR

As in every other part of an organization, personas play an essential role in Human Resources. The better you understand the workforce’s requirements and needs, the better you can map prospective employees with the company’s strategies and values. Persona creation is a time-consuming matter but it will save you a lot of time down the road.