How to Build Candidate Profiles for Better Job Descriptions

When you find the perfect job candidate, it's like a dream come true. You know they're a good fit, they know they're a good fit, and they're excited to start at your company. But as the definition of a quality hire changes, employers are challenged with sourcing high-value candidates that check all the boxes for their organization.

If you're one of 48% of HR professionals who struggle to hire new employees, this scenario may not happen as often as you'd like. The good news is there are steps you can take to make it easier for your team to find top talent—one of which is candidate profiling.

Candidate profiles guide the talent acquisition processes. They put your ideal job candidate into focus, so you can zero in on qualified applicants quickly and reduce hiring costs, headaches, and much more.

BambooHR helps HR teams expertly attract, evaluate, and hire new talent. In this article, we'll explain what a candidate profile is, how to create one, and why your company can't afford to skip this step.

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What Is a Candidate Profile?

A candidate profile is a detailed description of your ideal job candidate for an open position and a key part of a targeted recruiting strategy. Also called a candidate persona, this blueprint is a defined representation of who you want for the job and what they need to be successful in a specific role. Candidate profiles typically take a wide variety of elements into account, such as:

And this isn't an exhaustive list—your analysis should include anything you think might be relevant to making a good hiring decision. Once the persona is complete, you should have a description that directs your team toward the undiscovered potential in your talent pool.

Why Is a Candidate Profile Important for Recruiting?

Building candidate profiles may seem like just another extra step, but they can do much more than you may think. They spell out exactly who your recruiting specialists should look for in your applicant tracking system (ATS), which helps maximize time and resources. Plus, here are some of the other benefits of candidate profiles:

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How to Create Candidate Profiles

Candidate profiles encompass several aspects of your ideal employee—your job is to build a realistic blueprint that will help you tell the difference between a good hire and a great hire. To help you get started, here's a step-by-step overview of how to create candidate profiles:

Step 1: Start with a template.

The first thing to do is create a candidate persona template. Some companies use the same basic criteria to outline every position, while others tailor their templates to fit different roles and departments. Once it's complete, simply fill in the blanks to craft a candidate persona for another role.

Step 2: Define the role.

Any given profile should match up to an open role at your company. To figure out what your candidate would need to fit a position, describe what the role entails in detail. Think about things like:

While listing the qualifications you want to see in a candidate, it's helpful to consider what you don't want to see in a candidate. Take a few minutes to reflect on past employees, assessing what worked and what didn't when they held this role.

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Step 3: Determine what skills to look for in job applicants.

Now that you've defined the role, figure out what a new hire will need to be successful. This includes things like past work experience, education, software competencies, and other attributes. Along with technical skills, ascertain the soft skills (or personal traits) they'll also need in this role, such as:

As you're doing this assessment, a skills gap analysis can help. This exercise helps HR figure out which skills are lacking within certain departments and how new candidates or upskilling opportunities can resolve those shortcomings.

Step 4: Take your company culture and values into account.

What kind of impact do you want this person to have inside your organization? Cultural fit isn't just whether a person meshes well with other employees, it's also about what new perspectives and experiences they bring to the table.

Ideally, your new hire's values and behaviors will align with your company's. For instance, if you work in a place that openly welcomes feedback, your new employee should know how to give and receive it, too. But also think about where your company culture might be lacking and how a new hire might uplift those areas.

Step 5: Consider the broader need of the department or company.

How will this new hire support your vision for the department or company's future? Discuss the evolutionary potential for this position with your recruiting team and where this person fits in the bigger picture. This is part of workforce planning.

For example, will their job be the same six months or a year from now? If not, what skills will this person need to facilitate the transition smoothly? Using these details, you can assess each candidate's desire to adapt alongside your company and find someone with similar career goals.

Step 6: Discuss the role with your hiring manager and other stakeholders.

Before your candidate profile is complete, review it with your hiring manager and other people involved in the recruiting process, such as the department head, managers, or peers. This step helps ensure your persona is as accurate as possible and free of biased language that could skew your results.

Using Candidate Profiles for Job Descriptions

It's time to write a job description for the role and bring your ideal candidate to life. This profile is an internal document, so be sure to tailor your language to suit a wider audience and your public-facing employer brand. A job description should include six well-crafted elements, plus anything else you think would be relevant to a job candidate:

  1. Short company bio
  2. Salary range for the position
  3. Brief description of the role
  4. List of job responsibilities
  5. List of qualifications and skills
  6. Reasons to apply (benefits, culture, etc.)

Now, kick back and wait for those resumes to roll in. Each new role will need a new profile, but you'll eventually have an entire collection to reference whenever you have to hire someone or build a persona for an entirely new position.

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