The Importance of Identifying Candidate Personas to Communicate Your EB Successfully

February 25, 2022 • 3 min read

The Importance of Identifying Candidate Personas to Communicate Your EB Successfully

Jonna thrives in her role as the Global Head of Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing at UBS. As part of the Talent and Recruiting management team Jonna is leading the Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing team . Her team of HR marketeers cover all employer branding and recruitment marketing topics including everything from campaigns, events, content, channels and social media execution in-house. After 10 years in the agency world working for Universum in Europe and USA, Jonna moved over to the industry side (and to Switzerland) in 2019 to take on a completely new challenge in banking. She loves a good challenge, and navigating through strict compliance in the finance industry, as well as strong corporate brand guidelines, but still being creative and relevant to target candidates is what makes her excited to go to work each day.

As with all marketing disciplines, understanding your customer is absolutely key to employer branding. Who are they? What interests them? What’s really important to them work-wise? To communicate effectively, you have to know exactly who you’re communicating to.

But in most cases, your target market isn’t just one demographic. Talent needs vary, from entry-level to senior tenure, from location to business specialty. As they become more complex, it becomes more important to identify the different segments of your audience so you can refine and tailor your communication to each accordingly.

Building these candidate personas involves a strategic merger of quantitative and qualitative data. You need to know who your existing talent is, who you want it to be, where your talent is coming from currently and where you are losing talent from your organisation.

For me, breaking it down into a few fundamental steps gives me the information I need. The following is the process I work through in order to connect effectively with all the different candidates I want to attract.

I define the ‘customers’ 

From an EB perspective, talent is the ‘customer’ or the audience you want to reach.

I start here by using a framework of attributes related to workplace requirements and desirable traits, to benchmark internal and external data. This includes things like:

Then, I create personas

The more complex your talent needs are, the more important it is to create different personas. 

When mapping out each persona or target audience, it is really important to find the right level of detail that enables you to craft compelling content for them and get it in front of the right candidates in the right way. 

A lot of people tend to create personas by describing their ‘typical’ candidates mainly in terms of their lifestyle: ‘This is Jane, she is a banker, she has a dog and an 11 year-old daughter, she watched Money Heist on Netflix and does yoga.’

But in my view, it’s much more important to focus on facts about Jane’s professional standing, and aspirations and what would appeal to her enough to get her to move to your company.

This might be along the lines of: ‘Jane is a senior banker who has a good salary and is happy at her current job. She wants prestige, is very competitive, doesn’t engage with corporate jargon, isn’t actively looking for another job but uses LinkedIn sporadically, would want to know exactly what projects she’d be working on if she were to move jobs, and she’s physically active in her spare time.’

Identifying selling points

Qualitative feedback is important when crafting a key message platform for each persona or audience. You have to know what your employees do and don’t like about their jobs and your company – otherwise you’ll do another corporate approach that doesn’t land well with the candidates or employees.

You also need to understand what would make an external candidate change jobs in terms of offering, but also what would catch their attention – it is worth commissioning a survey for this as this is very valuable data.

I find that a mix of questionnaires, interviews and focus groups is the best way to get the flavour you’re after. Personally, I have found short one-on-one interviews more useful than focus groups, but I do use both because they offer varied insights.

I group the research into:

Don’t sell what you can’t offer

This is the biggest error you can make in employer branding. You may get people to apply, but not to accept the offer. You may get people in, but they won’t stay. The wider candidate market will soon become wise to it too. Word gets around.

Being open and honest about what you can and can’t offer is the best way to get the right talent through the door and keep them. You will get the ones who are okay with certain things that aren’t perfect, but who really like the things you are good at.

Be as authentic as possible, and exemplify very practically what you can give as a company. If it is not enough to attract the right talent, and there’s a huge misalignment between what a key talent group wants and what you are actually offering, you might need to go the longer route of making bigger changes to your offering.

At Employer Brandwagon, we’re pushing the collective thinking of the global EB community. Level up, inspire creativity and find encouragement from others who just ‘get’ it by joining the community here!

Jonna thrives in her role as the Global Head of Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing at UBS. As part of the Talent and Recruiting management team Jonna is leading the Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing team . Her team of HR marketeers cover all employer branding and recruitment marketing topics including everything from campaigns, events, content, channels and social media execution in-house. After 10 years in the agency world working for Universum in Europe and USA, Jonna moved over to the industry side (and to Switzerland) in 2019 to take on a completely new challenge in banking. She loves a good challenge, and navigating through strict compliance in the finance industry, as well as strong corporate brand guidelines, but still being creative and relevant to target candidates is what makes her excited to go to work each day.

Related Articles

How to Build (or Rebuild) and Deliver a Credible EVP in the Current Market
4 MIN READ

How to Build (or Rebuild) and Deliver a Credible EVP in the Current Market

Employer brand thought leader and pioneer in the Australian market, with over 15 years’ experience dedicated to building multi-award winning employer brands in the APAC region. Working within creative agencies, RPO’s and leading inhouse global employment brand teams, she drove a monumental transformation of Telstra’s (one of Australia’s largest co’s) employer brand. With ground-breaking work in employer brand and attraction strategy, exemplified by showcasing employees as advocates, she is passionate about uncovering what makes businesses a unique place to work. Today, Brie runs an employer brand consultancy and aims to create greater awareness and understanding of the value employer branding brings, when there’s a holistic strategy that spans across the employee lifecycle – we’ve come a long way since recruitment marketing!
Rethinking Employer Brand in a Hybrid Working World
3 MIN READ

Rethinking Employer Brand in a Hybrid Working World

Devin is a brand marketer turned talent brand leader. He's a big believer that creativity and transparency are key to any successful talent brand. Devin has shared experiences from his time with Atlassian to highlight how different aspects of their talent brand have evolved over time. He is now at GitLab in the TA space.
Getting a Seat at the Table: 10 Tips to Get Buy-in for Your EB Strategy
7 MIN READ

Getting a Seat at the Table: 10 Tips to Get Buy-in for Your EB Strategy

We’d noticed that the employer branding profession is still widely misunderstood, and business appreciation of the impact it can have is highly varied. By talking to leaders around the world we realised the employer brand community is significant, over 15,000 globally, but still it’s highly fragmented. Industry education has mainly been driven by vendors, and internal practitioners don’t always make the time (or have the platform) to share and benchmark their practices. We wondered if there was a way to strengthen the global community and raise the understanding of employer branding - at a business level. So we decided to start Employer Brandwagon, Would you like to be a part of our online community? To become an Employer Brandwagon Contributor sign up on our community page.