A Recruiter’s Guide to Talent Segmentation

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Aug 4, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

One of the toughest challenges that recruitment organizations face is understanding who is in their talent community, how one candidate is different from another, and then how to best attract and engage with them.

The best place to start is by grouping contacts by similar characteristics (e.g. career goals, skills, experience, readiness to change jobs, etc.), and then building a strategy for each group.

Defining these different groups is the art of segmentation, and getting it right is not an easy endeavor. You need both a framework to do it properly, and the tools to actually put your segments to use. If you are just getting started with segmenting your talent database (or taking a step back to rethink how you’ve been segmenting for a while), this post is for you.

I’ll take a look at a proven approach to using personas and lifecycle stages to build an effective segmentation strategy.

First, What Do We Mean by Segmentation?

As a term that gets tossed around a lot, you probably have an idea of what segmentation means: breaking your audience into groups of like people. But take a step back and acknowledge all of the things that segmentation helps you do better. Your segments should be used to:

  • Define the topics and tone of your communications. (Example: if you segment your candidates based on experience, the way you talk and engage with them can be significantly different.)
  • Plan your content strategy. (Example: if one valuable segment is underrepresented in your existing database, you might create more content that appeals to that segment to attract more of those people to your careers site.)
  • Hone the messaging that appears on your careers site (Example: Why not show the call to action that’s most appealing to each particular segment?)

These are just a few examples that you should think about. There are a lot more ways that you can apply segmentation to drive better results.

The natural next question: how should I actually be segmenting my talent community? While there are a lot of right ways to segment, let’s take a look at a proven method used by our customers, which is segmenting by lifecycle stage and candidate persona.

The First Dimension of Segmentation: Candidate Persona

What exactly is a candidate persona?

A candidate persona is a fictional representation of your ideal hire for a specific role. It is based on as much real data as possible, along with educated guesses about experience, goals, motivations, and concerns.

In short, candidate personas are groups that you define to represent the different types of candidates you commonly come across in your recruitment marketing process. You create these personas before producing any recruitment content, developing job descriptions, writing social media updates, or even conducting your candidate sourcing. A well-defined persona can help you tailor your messaging to the exact individual you’re trying to reach. There are several benefits to devising candidate personas, with the most common ones below.

  • Focus on the highest-performing recruiting channels
  • Communicate in a language that resonates with your audience
  • Build lasting, long-term relationships
  • Tackle your candidates’ pain points and concerns
  • Position your company as an ideal place to work
  • Get candidates excited about your open roles

Personas are especially important for tough-to-fill roles that require particular unique skillsets, strong leadership qualities, and confident personalities. These key hires will likely be in high demand and require personalized communication to get them engaged.

Tactically speaking, personas can be detailed through outlines, short paragraphs, photos, and even PowerPoint presentations. What’s more important than the deliverable, however, is the process that you follow to create it.

The Second Dimension of Segmentation: Lifecycle Stage

Lifecycle stage refers to where in the engagement lifecycle a candidate currently is. It’s a great starting point for segmenting your audience, because how you communicate with different candidates should be largely dependent on their lifecycle stage. For example, the conversation you should have with a very passive candidate who you know nothing about should be very different from the kind of conversation you might have with an established candidate opportunity who is considering joining your company.

Combining Buyer Persona and Lifecycle Stage to Define Your Segments

The most effective way to segment is by looking at these two dimensions together. In other words, define segments based on lifecycle stage and persona. This approach looks at who the candidate is (e.g.  career goals, experience, skills, etc…), and how they expect to interact with your organization (through lifecycle stage).

Now, Start Putting Your Personas to Use

Once you’ve set up your personas and classified your talent pool, start putting your new segmentation plan into use. There is a lot you can do with your personas, including:

  • Create workflows to nurture candidate of a certain persona.
  • Create unique content to target what certain personas and lifecycle stages see on your careers website.
  • Write blog content that caters to different personas and lifecycle stages
  • Monitor list of candidates with certain personas and lifecycle stages on social media

Final Thoughts

Treat your personas as a living, evolving document. Each candidate you meet will introduce a new perspective that you can use to make your personas more precise and tailored to your organization. Design your own processes to craft a persona guide that’s right for you and your organization.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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