Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe - Abraham Lincoln
As a job seeker, do you know what exactly you are looking for? Forget the job title and the company name. What does your ideal job really look like? How can you start a new job search if you don't know exactly what you are looking for?

Without this idea of a ‘ideal job’, it’s hard for you to rate your profile against the job openings. Furthermore, you won’t be in a position to highlight aspects of your profile that gets recruiters’ attention. For instance, if you are like most job seekers, you find your own profiles great. However, from our experience, most applicant profiles or personas don’t work! So, instead of focusing your job search around gut feelings and assumptions, optimize your time and application efforts around targeting the ideal job based on facts and research with an Applicant Personas.

Applicant Persona
Most candidates haven’t heard about Applicant Personas. Even if they do, they do not take the time to develop their applicant personas. As a result, they submit way too many applications than they need to. This results in way too many wasted applications. Therefore, finding the right job takes a lot more than fire-and-forget approach. In other words, you need to be more proactive in your job search efforts, instead of waiting for companies to respond. Unless, of course, you are willing to wait for weeks or months for a positive response to land in your Inbox, by chance.

What is an Applicant Persona?

An applicant persona is a fictional profile of an ideal job candidate for a specific role that is both detailed and data driven. Creating applicant persona involves a process of thorough research and reflection to determine the most important characteristics you must possess to be successful in the job and become an asset to their hiring organization.

Characteristics that help define a candidate persona include:

  • Work experience
  • Education (degrees and certifications)
  • Geographical location
  • Specific skill sets
  • Communication style
  • Preferred work environment
  • Professional goals and motivators
  • Personal online presence
  • Professional networks

This may seem like a lot of information to gather and organize — and you’re right, it is. However, putting in the effort up front will drastically help your recruitment efforts in the long run. Setting aside time to complete the process properly should give you even better results.

Applicant Persona

Applicant Persona Canvas

Improving Job Search Metrics

The applicant persona will follow you throughout your hiring process. If done well, you will reap the benefits in time, efforts and resources. As a result, nearly every significant recruitment metric will benefit from taking the time to create thorough applicant personas.

  • Application Completion Rate: Your applicant persona will help determine the best platform and process to optimize application completion rate
  • Time To Hire: Once you’ve really nailed the applicant persona and you know exactly where the right openings are, time to hire will decrease drastically because you won’t be wasting time on channels and platforms that aren’t quite right
  • Cost Per Application: Many factors contribute to your cost per application. When you have optimized the various aspects of your application package, your cost per job application and conversions will also improve
  • Offer Acceptance Rate: Because you have established a clear outline of the ideal job, and that information is reflected in your application materials, when the right opening comes along, you won’t have to spend time customizing your application documents to the job posting, which increases the application throughput.
  • Quality Of Applications: You don’t want to waste time applying for a job you’re not actually interested in. Likewise, you also don’t want to apply to those positions where you don’t have a clear advantage. Hence, applicant personas will ensure that every aspect of your job search process clearly communicates what you’re looking for. Thus, you could target only those positions that absolutely match your expectations.
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Sample Applicant Persona

Role Requirements

  • Open Role: Front End Developer
  • Hiring Department: Engineering
  • Skills: Background as a Full Stack Engineer, strong knowledge of CSS, HTML5 or Javascript, strong communication skills
  • Years of Experience: 5
  • Education: Masters degree in Software Engineering (Computer Science)
  • Competitor Companies: Acme Co.
  • Current Role: Software Engineer
  • Current Career Dissatisfaction: Minor contributor to large projects, lack of independence
  • Previous Experience: Coding boot camp, worked in the software industry. Specifically, front-end and back-end web development
  • Geographical Location: Berlin
  • Off-Site Location: Work remotely
  • Salary: € 60k-85k

Professional & Personal Preferences

  • Culture Addition: Outgoing, female
  • Personality Traits: Independent, curious
  • Environment: Quiet office, downtown
  • Personal Motivations: Monetary bonus, completing projects independently
  • Personal Goals: Move into managerial position, work independently on projects
  • Communication Style: In-person, Blogs, Social Networks

Targeting Tactics

  • Job Search Channels: Developer-specific job boards. For example, GitHub, StackOverflow
  • Professional Interests: UX/UI design
  • Personal Time Spent Online: Github.com, TechCrunch, Wired
  • Personal Interests: Coding challenges, technology news
  • Team Diversity Gaps: Female

Summary

If you want to make sure that your job search activities are highly focused and targeted in the way that deliver the best results, then applicant personas are probably the best bet. They should help make sure that you know who you are and what you are really looking for! Crafting a detailed persona might seem like a lot of work at first, but the return on your time investment is significant.