How to start your employer brand journey

Start by creating your ideal candidate persona

Traditional marketers begin the process of messaging by creating personas, or semi-fictional customer profiles of the wants, desires, and interests of the people most likely to buy the product or service they are promoting. Once personas are created, research and messaging are focused on these specific groups of people. Based on target personas, customized experiences are designed to lead these individuals through a customer journey—beginning with awareness and ending with conversion from customer to buyer.

Think of candidate personas as recruitment marketing’s version of customer profiles. Candidate personas allow you to better understand the wants and needs of your target candidate audience and create a personalized experience for your employer brand journey in much the same way traditional marketing personalizes its messaging to customers. Your messaging will lead candidates who fit your ideal personals through your employer brand journey, which begins with awareness and ends in conversion via recruitment, application, or offer acceptance.

Once you have identified your ideal candidate for a specific position, you can create a hiring funnel for recruitment marketing. This is how recruiters can create a compelling employee journey for target job candidates. By creating personas based on the types of diverse personalities or skillsets you’re looking for, you can more effectively recruit and build messaging and content that adds value and attracts the specific candidates you want to hire.

Internal Interviews to Develop Candidate Personas

Data is a great way to better understand your most successful performers, and this can be gathered from performance management platforms or via interviewing stakeholders, hiring managers, and team members. For the latter, ensure that the job description is accurate and clear (and current), and ask stakeholders to outline the skills and experience they value the most, from certifications and degrees to soft skills like work ethic and emotional intelligence.

Once you have identified top performers, the following questions can help elicit the information that will help you build your candidate profile or persona:

  • What motivates you on the job?
  • What made you apply for your role in the first place?
  • What are your favorite websites to share information and ideas?
  • What skills help you succeed on the job? What skill sets do you hope to develop?
  • What do you like the most about our company culture?
  • What technology are you most excited about?
  • What is the most interesting part of your job?

How to Create Candidate Personas

For smaller organizations, candidate personas can be created for unique positions, outlining the specific traits and skills required for those positions and developing content marketing strategies accordingly. Larger organizations can group personas by department or team, and can specifically focus both on the traits of your current top performers and the skills that are most likely to improve the success of that team.

The worksheet below is a good starting place as you work with stakeholders to create candidate personas. Many companies will approach this with current top performers in mind. Who is this candidate? What do they care about? What matters to them? What are their likes and dislikes? Where do they spend time online? Be sure to include required degrees and certifications.

Candidate Persona Worksheet (PDF link)

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you can create your candidate persona. Give the persona a name (“front end developer” is fine) and proceed through the steps on the worksheet to outline what differentiates “front end developer” from all the other candidates out there. The most important factor in this beginning stage of your employer brand journey is having a clear understanding of your candidate audience. Candidate personas are an excellent way to put yourself inside the head of your ideal candidate, and it also allows other stakeholders within your organization to contribute to what hiring success looks like for specific teams and departments.

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