Personas for Talent Acquisition – How to Get Started by @AllisonAKruse

In my recent SourceCon keynote in Dallas, I shared how our organization has started leveraging personas for our hiring initiatives. If you don’t know what personas are, don’t worry – you are not alone. Simply put, personas are fictional, generalized representations of your target audience. In consumer marketing, the target audience is made up of customers and prospects. For talent acquisition, personas represent your target candidates.

Personas allow you to be more strategic in catering to each target, relate to the talent/client contact that you are trying to attract and recruit, and relate to them as human beings. Personas can be used in the many areas of talent acquisition:


The marketing industry has used personas in many areas of their strategy for years. The key is creating detailed personas based on research – they shouldn’t be made up of weak assumptions, and they are definitely not a “wish list” of traits you want your ideal candidate to have.

To create a persona, gather information from your actual candidates and top performers (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Ideally, you will define the following about your persona:

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.49.12 AM

At SourceCon, someone asked how to gather this information. My recommendation is to work on it daily; have a persona template up on your screen, and throughout the day as you are talking with candidates and top performers, doing research, participating in relevant online groups etc., fill out the sections (see above). In other words, ask questions, pay attention to the answers, and document.

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It does not have to be a daunting task – just start with one. I recommend the following steps to get started:

  1. Gather information from your candidates
  2. Interview top performers
  3. Document and organize your information
  4. Craft messaging and social media posts
  5. Test it
  6. Continuously improve

After you have created your persona, take her for a test drive! Your new persona is a work in progress, and you will likely need to make tweaks and adjustments as you leverage your persona.

I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried using personas? How has it worked for you?

Allison Kruse is passionate about empowering recruiters and sourcers to leverage social media to be more successful at what they do. At Kforce, she is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive and ever-evolving firm-wide strategy to leverage social media for recruiting and sales in order to provide value to Kforce employees, clients, consultants and candidates, as well as increase revenue and community engagement and growth on all platforms.

She is building a team of Strategic Sourcers from the ground up who support both internal and external clients firm-wide. In addition, she champions Kforce’s social media and employer branding initiatives and manages the social media team. Her background includes sourcing, recruiting, sales, digital strategy, and social media, and has made an impact in corporate, consulting, RPO and staffing environments.