Crafting an Engaging Candidate Profile

Attract the Best Candidates with a Compelling Candidate Profile

Does your recruitment process include a candidate profile? If not, it should. Without a candidate profile, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to engage with the best candidates, but also to differentiate your position and company from all the other opportunities vying for your candidate’s attention.   Hiring a new employee is difficult enough — and it is only made exponentially more difficult when you do not invest the time to pinpoint who your new hire should be and how to appeal to them. Even more importantly, you must articulate the value proposition of your company, and highlight the core criteria required, as well as the critical first year deliverables to grab their attention. By creating a compelling candidate profile, you can quickly and accurately evaluate candidates, accelerate your time to hire, and increase the success of your hires. To learn more about elevating your current hiring process and choosing candidates who are not only a successful fit for the role, but also for your company’s culture, join us as we dive into the ins and outs of crafting a candidate profile.

What is a Candidate Profile?

If your company has a marketing department, you’re likely familiar with buyer personas. In its essence, the purpose of buyer personas are to identify who your target audience is, as well as the best ways to reach them. Candidate profiles are very similar, in that they help you to attract, excite, and engage desirable candidates.

Candidate Profile vs. Job Description

“But isn’t that accomplished by the job description?" Not at all. A job description is used to establish the duties of the job, covering daily tasks, details about the position, and the background and competencies against which candidates are screened. In the most simple terms, a job description describes the position, while a candidate profile focuses on attracting the best candidates by getting them excited about the company, culture, and opportunity. It accomplishes this in a three key ways:

  1. First, candidate profiles convey the company’s identity and how it is weaved through the culture, work, and results, while also clearly articulating the critical qualities, competencies, and behaviors that will attract the right candidates.
  2. Second, they highlight the top three deliverables for the position that not only help applicants determine if they can be successful in the role, but also help the interview team hone-in on the applicant’s key performances that delivered similar results.
  3. Lastly, candidate profiles highlight the value the company provides, such as benefits and perquisites that would be attractive to the desired candidate.  

Choosing to post or promote open positions with only a job description wastes time and money, forcing you to sort through the overwhelming number of resumes from unqualified job seekers you’re bound to receive. However, investing the time to create a compelling profile will help ensure that you attract and ultimately hire candidates that fit your culture and your opportunity.

The Value of a Candidate Profile

At this point, it’s hard to deny the usefulness of candidate profiles. However, they also deliver a direct value to your recruitment process, including:

Optimize Your Sourcing Budget

As with any successful business, you operate on a budget. That being said, it’s unlikely you spend money without first considering its ROI. That would simply be bad business!However, when it comes to your sourcing budget, if you haven’t created a candidate profile, then you are wasting your recruitment dollars — and here’s why. Candidate profiles help you attract and identify the right candidates. Using this tool, you’re better able to appeal to and engage higher quality candidates, allowing you to invest your budget wisely and shorten your time to hire, resulting in a greater ROI.

Focus on Success

Ever heard the phrase “shot in the dark”? While it’s a common saying, it’s not one you’d want to hear around the office — especially in reference to your newest hire. Hiring a new employee should never feel like a shot in the dark. Instead, it should feel strategic and well-executed, and you should feel confident in your decision as well as the future success of your new hire. A candidate profile not only helps you to recruit top-tier talent, but also allows you to predict the success of your hire. When properly executed and adhered to, your candidate profile and your new hire should align, enabling you to focus more on the success of your hire, rather than worry about their potential failure. In fact, companies that improve the quality of a hire are three times as likely to see an improvement in first-year retention, and three times more likely to see an improvement in first-year performance — and crafting a compelling candidate profile does just that! Write More Useful Job DescriptionsOnce you have developed a compelling profile, writing a job description becomes much less of a hassle. Instead of focusing on a “kitchen-sink” of responsibilities, background and experiences that is usually way too restrictive, you can now focus on what is most critical and for the right person to have in order to be successful in the role.   When the critical details of the position, its core requirements, and the culture of your company aren’t precisely depicted, you may be unintentionally appealing to the wrong candidate. This is why establishing a candidate profile prior to writing the job description is critical, and why it has such a significant impact on the quality of your applicant pool.

6 Steps to Profiling the Ideal Candidate

So far, we’ve established what a candidate profile is, its usefulness, and the value it brings to your company. Now, let’s dive a bit deeper to show you what to do when creating candidate profiles for your business — as well as what not to do.

1. Define the Company’s Identity

Invest the time to clearly articulate who your company is, its culture and identity, and the critical qualities, competencies and behaviors that are central to successful employees. To help you nail down your company’s identity, interview several of your employees from all parts of the company to find out why they chose to join, what excites them about the company, and how they would describe the culture. Evaluate the responses to see where answers most align, and use those as the basis for your company’s identity. Armed with that information, now take it one step further. Is your internal identity parallel with how you are perceived by the public — including social sites like Glassdoor? If not, this may impact your ability to engage the right candidates.

2. Describe What Makes This an Outstanding Opportunity

Consider why someone would be attracted to this role. What will they be involved in, responsible for, and be a part of that makes this a compelling position? Get into the details about the role, their manager, the company, leadership opportunities, career track, professional development, and the culture and/or mission that would cause someone to want this opportunity. In addition, ask yourself what is it about your company’s mission, vision, activities, and market position that is distinguishing? In what many describe as the greatest war for talent, a clearly defined and articulated job opportunity is what will separate your position from all the others and enable you to attract the top candidates.

3. Mind Your Do’s and Don’ts

When creating a candidate profile, there are some do’s and don’ts you must remain mindful of.

Do: Identify Success Traits

List the traits, qualities, and soft and hard skills of your best performing and high-potential employees. Then, divide them into a list of your absolute must-haves, as well as a list of your nice-to-haves. Define which qualities a candidate must possess to not only do their job successfully, but also progress your company’s vision. Spend as much time as you need defining these skills — they will ultimately inform your final hiring decision. Some qualities to look for include:

  • Open-mindedness
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Humility
  • Emotional intelligence

Learn more about the traits above and discover five other qualities to look for in our blog. It’s also important to keep in mind that while hard skills are important, these skills can be developed, unlike soft skills which can’t always be taught. To discern if a candidate has the soft skills you require, ask specific questions as you move through the interview process and analyze their answer.

Don’t: Expect Perfection

It’s unlikely for you to find a candidate who checks every box. What they lack in hard skills, they may make up for in strong communication and leadership qualities. Be realistic about the skills, traits, and qualities you’re looking for. While this is your time to be picky — especially for critical  positions — it is more important to prioritize the essentials so that you do not miss out on great candidates.

Do: Consider Your Existing Talent and Identify Potential Gaps to Close

Take a close look at your current employees to identify what is missing, or what critical skills or experiences may be needed. While getting this information first-hand is best, employee surveys are also an excellent way to assess the current needs and weaknesses within your company. Plus, your employees may feel more confident giving honest answers in the form of a survey rather than a one-on-one conversation. By meeting the needs of your current team, you can progress the future of your company — therefore improving your company’s culture, and its mission.

Don’t: Take It Lightly

The qualities, skills, and traits you list in this stage will define the characteristics of your next hire, so don’t take it lightly! Put pen to paper and begin to distinguish who it is you want. You can always revise it later on.

Focus on the Fit, Not The Find

On paper, it may look like a potential hire is the ideal fit for your company. However, if time is not invested in knowing the “whole candidate”, they may end up being part of the 45 percent of placements that fail within the first 18 months. To help avoid this pitfall, recruiters need to go beyond work experience to understand the candidate’s motivations, interests, family situations and requirements in order to accurately assess their fit to the opportunity, company and community. Read our blog, The Ripple Effects Of An Uprooted Executive Hire, for more details.

4. Evaluate Your Top Employees

Who are the top performers in your company? Spend time evaluating what makes them so successful — and use those characteristics to round out your candidate profile. Speak with your top performers and ask specific questions about their day-to-day duties, how they handle problems, what they love most about their position, and what helps them to succeed. In addition, ask them where they spend most of their time online. If these employees mirror the type of candidate you’re looking for, this information can be critical in effectively targeting your next hire. Share this information with your leadership team. Not only will it help you to narrow down your candidate profile, but also give you an indication of the state of your company. Speaking directly to your employees, at all levels, tends to reveal the strengths of your company, as well as areas that need improvement.

5. Research How to Reach Your Ideal Candidate

Without researching how to reach your ideal candidate, the previous steps will be much less effective. Get into your candidate’s head — what are they looking at online? What social platforms do they use most, and what groups are they a part of? What professional organizations or networking sites/functions are they attending or a part of? Most importantly, how do they like to communicate? Generational research shows that more seasoned employees prefer different methods of communication than those in younger generations. They also tend to have opposing values, and are looking for different things in their next position. For example, the opportunity to work from home throughout the month may mean more to a younger job seeker who values flexibility than a job seeker who’s been in the workforce for a while. Older generations of job seekers tend to value benefits rather than perks, and prefer less online communication, unlike Millennials and Gen Zers who are online constantly. Keep this information in mind when writing your job description as well.

Who’s Playing In Your Sandbox?

Read our blog, The Value Different Generations Bring To The Workplace, to learn more about the defining factors of the five generations in the workforce — Silents, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z — and discover six strategies for creating a cohesive workplace that all generations and your company can benefit from.

Once again, consider who it is you’re looking for. What generation do they fall into? How old are they? How much real-world work experience do they have? The answers to these questions will not only fill out your ideal candidate profile, but also give you an indication of where to find — and target — your next hire online.

6. Bring It All Together

You now have the makings for your candidate profile! All that’s left is to bring it all together. Give your candidate a name, a picture, and even a story. This will help you and your team bring your ideal candidate to life.Once this is completed, you can begin sourcing and posting strategically to predetermined platforms. Then, use it to evaluate and eliminate applicants throughout the hiring process. Based on your criteria, your profile should guide you all the way to your next hire. At Kinsley Sarn, developing robust candidate profiles are a large part of our trusted executive search process. When finding the right fit for your company, we work with you to identify and target the ideal candidate for you. Download our white paper, Evaluate, Eliminate, Employ: The Path to Hiring Top-Tier Talent for Your Company, to discover where a candidate profile fits into the hiring process, as well as our expert advice for choosing top talent, all the way from resume to hire.

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