How to Size Up Your Target Audience for Your Employer Brand

By Richard Mosley

To communicate your employer brand effectively, you need to think about the other person at least as much as the message you want to convey and the desired response. This principle holds true when you’re trying to convince talented prospects to come and work for your company.

Before you give any consideration to the messaging you want to use in your recruitment advertising campaigns or the media to use to reach out to prospects, you need to size up your audience to determine their preferences and what they are likely to find appealing.

Here, you learn how to segment your audience, prioritize audience segments, and develop talent personas to more effectively connect with and appeal to the talent you’re trying to attract and engage.

Approach recruitment marketing as you do consumer marketing. Just as in consumer advertising, where you need to present products and solutions in a way that aligns with customer needs, in recruitment marketing, you must present your company and the positions you need to fill in ways that align with the candidate’s needs and aspirations. In both cases, a deeper understanding of the audience improves success.

Segmenting your employer branding audience

Segmenting your audience involves differentiating between candidates you’re trying to attract and convert. You can segment your audience using various criteria — for example, by experience (entry level, management, and executive), by position (software developers, human resources [HR], sales, accounting, and so forth), and by geographical area (locations where you need to ramp up your employer branding and recruiting efforts).

To segment your audience, look for categories that will help you more effectively target individuals in each category. For example, one segment may include college students and graduates, in which case your recruitment efforts are likely to focus on developing an internship program and increasing your on-campus recruiting efforts. Segmentation by position can help you determine which media to use to connect with certain segments, such as advertising in a magazine that’s popular with game developers.

When developing your recruitment marketing plan, consider the people you’re recruiting. The creative and content of a campaign you’ll use to attract software sales reps in APAC will differ from that used to attract software sales reps in the United States. Developing talent personas for the different candidate groups you’re recruiting allows you to better understand their motivations and drivers, enabling you to build targeted recruitment marketing campaigns that speak directly to them.

Prioritizing your employer brand audience segments

Hiring needs vary across companies, ranging from more generic talent (such as that needed to work the phones in call centers) to more specialized talent (such as data scientists who analyze big data to produce valuable business intelligence). Hiring needs may also vary according to location; for example, you may need to hire numerous candidates with a wide range of talent to run operations at a new distribution facility or hire highly specialized talent for several divisions of your company located in different countries.

As you evaluate your company’s hiring needs, prioritize those needs, so you can allocate resources and gauge your recruiting efforts accordingly. As you prioritize hiring needs, consider the following factors:

  • Current openings: A high priority is filling current openings, so that the company has the personnel required to conduct daily operations.
  • Positions that are key to strategy and revenue production: Although all employees play a role in a company’s success, some are key players in developing strategy and creating and identifying revenue-generating opportunities. These employees have a higher priority, because they create the opportunities that give everyone else in the company a job.
  • Management: People who can manage people and get them to work together to achieve common goals that contribute to the success of the company are high-priority hires. Those in charge of strategy and revenue production serve as the company’s visionaries, but management provides the direction and coordination to execute those visions and innovations.
  • Technical expertise: Technology plays a key role in the success of most businesses. To optimize its potential benefits, you need people who know how to harness its power.
  • Seniority: You probably want to create a healthy mix of more and less experienced employees, so you have a skilled current and future workforce.

After prioritizing your hiring needs, use these priorities to inform your decisions on allocating your recruitment marketing budget and your marketing efforts.

Hiring needs and priorities change. Monitor hiring needs closely and be prepared to reprioritize as conditions change.

Creating talent personas for your employer brand

A talent persona is a fictional character that exhibits all the qualities you want the ideal candidate to possess. More specifically, a talent persona is

  • A fictional representation of the ideal job candidate
  • A compilation of criteria gathered from actual profiles of candidates who would likely be a good fit for your company and for the specific position along with input from others within the company who have insight into the type of person needed
  • A professional/personal portrait that’s the product of well-informed speculation about the ideal candidate’s professional and personal aspirations, motivations, interests, values, hobbies, lifestyle, and so on
  • A marketing tool to guide and validate the content strategy of your employer branding activities, rather than a recruiting tool to assess candidates

A talent persona features the following potential benefits:

  • It builds empathy toward target talent in a way that reports of qualitative and quantitative data alone can’t accomplish.
  • It makes assumptions and knowledge about talent explicit, thereby giving the employer branding team a common language to use to talk meaningfully about targeted talent.
  • It moves the employer branding team from standard ways of categorizing talents to embodiments of key traits that are built around interests, needs, motivations, preferences, and goals.

To create a talent persona, gather the following details based on the audience segment you’re going to pursue:

  • Demographics: Age/career level, marital status, education, career path, geographic preferences, income level
  • Job information: Title and similar titles, whether the position requires or provides supervision, skills required, goals of roles, career progression of role, what a typical day looks like, and so forth
  • Challenges: Professional and personal challenges, challenges within the industry
  • Media preferences: Social/digital networks used, blogs read, media preferences, professional associations
  • Interests: Hobbies, pastimes, passion projects, travel, and so on