How to DIY Your Recruiting: #1 Know Your Audience

As a marketer by training and a recruiter by practice, I have been exploring the ways that recruiting and marketing are similar.  My training seminar, Steal These 5 Marketing Fundamentals to Make the Best Hire, borrows principles from marketing to improve the hiring process and attract the best candidates.  In this post, we explore marketing fundamental #1: Know Your Audience.

Marketing is all about identifying the customer and what motivates them.  At its most basic, marketing is the process of making people aware of your company’s product or service and, hopefully, turning them into customers by educating and engaging them.  Marketers identify customer segments and needs in a variety of ways. They create buyer personas by researching data and trends, using demographic, geographic, psychographic and other data to identify who their target audience is, what their habits are, what they are interested in and how they communicate.

When you are hiring for a role, it is critical to take a page from the marketer’s book and spend time identifying your target market.


Define the role

The position you are hiring for is your “product.”  In order to know who your target audience is is, you have to clearly define what that “product” is.  This means creating a job description that is accurate and thoughtful, that truly describes what a successful candidate looks like in your organization.  You can’t simply reuse the old job description or pull a template from a Google search.  Those can be good starting points, but investing in crafting an accurate and compelling job description is as important in a hiring process as have a quality and compelling product when trying to attract customers.

If you are the hiring manager, take a step back and think about the plans for your company and department.  How has this position evolved since it was last filled, what has changed about the role and what has stayed the same?  If you are the recruiter, take time to interview not just the hiring manager, but direct reports and others that interact with the role to gain a true understand of what the critical must-haves are to be successful in the position.  In either case, it is useful to look at similar positions in your industries and others to see how your “competition” is positioning similar positions.


Identify your ideal candidate

Once you have your “product” specs clearly articulated in a meaningful job description, think about the requirements of your ideal candidate profile – your bulls-eye target.  What functional expertise and skills are needed for the position?  What competencies are important to assess in order to predict success in the role?

Think about people in your industry that have similar roles.  What makes them successful in their position?  Then, think about people that have been successful in your company.  What attributes allow them to be additive to your culture?

Does this person need to have experience in your industry or are you looking for a fresh outside perspective?  Is the ideal candidate someone that has “been there done that” or are you open to an up-and-coming rock star.

Just like marketers ask questions and analyze to identify buyer personas, employing a brainstorming methodology can help you go beyond the “X years of experience” approach to candidate requirements and really know your potential audience for this role.


Figure out where to find them

Now that you have an idea of what your target audience of ideal candidates looks like, you need to figure out how to reach them.  What brands are they working in now?  What do they read? What conferences, tradeshows are event do they go to?  What organizations are they members of?  Who do they know in your network?

Even if you don’t have the resources to go out and actively create a candidate pipeline, knowing the where your target audience might be can help you craft messaging on your job board, social media and other outreach methods that to pique the interest of an amazing candidate that might not be actively looking for a new job.  If you do have the resources, you’ll maximize your sourcing time with a strategy built around your target audience and how best to reach them.

Knowing your audience sets the foundation for an efficient and effective hiring process that attracts the best talent.  Borrow a few tricks from your marketing team and do the work up front to really understand what your “product” is, what your ideal candidate looks like and where you might be able to find them.

Now that you know your audience, take the next step with How to DIY Your Recruiting #2: Differentiate Your Offering where I share how to make your employer brand stand out from the competition for talent.


Interested in learning more?  Check out my post 3 Ways Recruiting is Like Marketing.  And 3 Ways it’s Not.

Click here for more details on my training, Steal These 5 Marketing Fundamentals to Make the Best Hire