Developing a persona is standard in the full marketing stack. The goal is to create a series of customer segments, create an individual who represents that segment, and then tailor messaging to that individual.
It's effective because good messaging is written to a person, not to a group. What "sounds good" is not the same as "what appeals to an individual.
Recruiting has a real problem with this. We're obsessed with data, which means that we tend to view candidates in terms of lists, instead of as individuals.
This is good.
This is bad.
It seems to be common sense. Of course you want to talk about people as individuals instead of as a group. Then why don't we? Why do our ATS's lack pictures of the individual? Oh sure, compliance. Can't have any bias creeping in. Instead of an accurate picture, what if we had random pictures of people we could look at as we searched resumes and talked on the phone? That is literally the purpose of personas in marketing.
A persona is a lens that focuses our messaging on a real person and let's us discuss the impact of our message in terms of a real person. Does that sound confusing? Let me simplify it.
Your emails and phone calls are bad if you're looking at a list. They're better if you're looking at a person.
Lists focus are attention on what we want. Titles, companies we recognize, skillsets, keywords... when we write with a list in mind, our tone and message tends to be focused on what we want.
"I'm looking for full-stack programmers to work in our office in Seattle."
"We're on the search for great talent for our product team! B2B marketers experienced in lead generation using Marketo should apply now!"
I'm bored just writing that.
When you focus on a picture, you take the attention off of your needs, and put it the candidate. Try these out.
"Your profile had links to code samples that were pretty impressive."
"Brian, your background in B2B marketing with Marketo could be a good fit for our team."
They're still generic, but shockingly, they work. Candidate response to personalization works every time it's tried. That's not actually a positive thing. It means the bar for response is so low that your Yorkshire Terrier can jump over it. And those are very little dogs with tiny little legs. Don't get me wrong - response is important - it's the first step. But truly great recruiters and truly great hiring teams know how to take it further. They use a persona to create a messaging framework the candidate and the hiring team throughout the hiring process.
Customizing your personas requires you to do that most dreaded of exercises - putting yourself in the shoes of a candidate to understand their motivations. This series will help you do that. Stay tuned.