When it comes to ensuring you hire the right person for your business, the process starts with building an ideal candidate profile. If you don’t develop the profile of your ideal candidate, your recruiting process won’t have the right target.
We all know that hiring the right candidate is no easy task. Developing a job description, evaluating what skills and qualifications are necessary for the role, advertising the position opening, wading through the applicants’ resumes — the recruitment process is intensive even before getting to the interview stage.
An ideal candidate profile improves your marketing for open positions, reduces the time you spend evaluating candidates, and ultimately helps you find the right person for the job.
Not sure what an ideal candidate profile is or how to develop one? Here’s the A-Z on creating an ideal candidate profile for your next open position.
Anatomy of an ideal candidate profile
An ideal candidate profile is different than a job description, which outlines skills and qualifications your company is looking for. Instead, an ideal candidate profile gives 4-6 desirable characteristics for a candidate.
You should be able to easily identify these characteristics from a candidate’s resume or interview. Ideally, each characteristic is written in a SMART format — they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For a management position, for example, a characteristic might be: “Active in four business and community groups for more than three years.”
This characteristic is specific, measurable, and time-related. To know whether it is achievable and realistic requires examining your top-performing management employees.
Build ideal candidate profile with competencies
One of the best ways to determine the items in your ideal candidate profile is to think about employee competencies — observable behaviors or traits that demonstrate an individual’s work ethic and job performance. Most of us cannot correctly identify personality traits from a resume or job interview; but concrete behaviors are much easier to identify.
Competencies involve how people interact with others in a work setting, how they approach business projects or problems, and how they manage themselves. While they range from interpersonal skills to critical thinking skills, remember that no one person can excel in every competency. Choose the ones most important to the job position, and use those to build your ideal candidate profile.
If you’re hiring for a management or other leadership position, you may seek someone who is skilled in energizing and motivating a group of people; or who actively notes and appreciates the contributions of others. If this person will be part of a large team, you’ll want a candidate who communicates clearly, when speaking and writing. If they will be part of a small team, or working primarily alone, strong competencies may include self-confidence, the motivation to take initiative on new projects, and the ability (and drive) to track their own progress. A candidate for a sales position should have the ability to tailor language and information accordingly when presenting to different audiences.
In order to determine the ideal competencies for a particular role, turn to your current top-performing employees, especially those in the same or similar roles. Look at their performance data, their annual reviews, and even what they included on their resumes when they applied to your company. Perhaps speak to their managers, to ask what stands out about these stellar employees, and identify which competencies have made them successful in their jobs.
Ideal candidate profiles: bringing together marketing and recruiting
Marketers are familiar with buyer personas, which describe the characteristics of the target customer. Using market research and real customer data, they create semi-fictional profiles of the buyer, including details like demographics, behavior patterns, and motivations. This information helps marketers package and advertise products in a way that is most enticing to their ideal customer.
In a similar way, ideal candidate profiles describe the characteristics of your ideal employee. This helps you be clear about what it is you’re looking for in a candidate. It also helps you market the position in a way more likely to attract the attention of your ideal candidate.
For example, consider the differences between the ideal candidate for a construction foreman and a mid-level mechanical engineer position. The construction candidate is more likely to have experience managing people and will likely have a lot of experience onsite. The nature of an engineering position is much different than one in construction, and so a mechanical engineering candidate may approach their job search differently than a construction candidate.
This can have a real impact on how your company advertises these open positions. While it may make sense to advertise the mechanical engineering position on LinkedIn, the social network for business networking, a construction candidate may be more likely to learn of an open position through word of mouth or networking. It goes back to knowing your audience, are they on the network you’re advertising on? Where can you find them?
Making the most of your ideal candidate profile
Now that you have your ideal candidate profile, don’t be shy about sharing it. Provide the profile to your employees. Place it in your orientation packages for new hires. Post it in your office.
It will be easier for people to identify potential candidates they know that fit the profile then it will be for them to look at a job description and think of someone who is qualified for that role.
And of course, don’t forget to structure the application and interview process in a way that will determine whether candidates fit the profile. Ask specific interview questions about the items on your profile. Request references that can confirm the candidate’s characteristics.
Remember that it is important to not only consider the characteristics of your ideal candidate, but also whether that characteristic is widely available in the job market. Balance finding the perfect candidate with the reality of what is possible when filling the position.
As any hiring manager knows, it is important to deeply understand your ideal candidate if you are to attract them to your company. Developing an ideal candidate persona will help you get into the mindset of top-performing candidates, which will make it easier to get your job opening in front of the best candidates and identify when they have walked through your door.
Improve your hiring process by building research-based, concrete ideal candidate profiles based on your top-performing employees. You will be glad you did.