Building & Using an Applicant Profile for Success

For decades, marketers have used target audience profile personas to build marketing plans. Sales professionals have used similar tools to create prospect lists. For manufacturers faced with an unprecedented labor market, it’s time to employ these effective strategies for recruiting.  

How to Build the Profile(s)

Marketing & HR Should Collaborate

Recruiting is a top business priority. Your Human Resources (HR) department is under immense pressure to keep up with the hiring needs. Meanwhile, Marketing is looking for ways to prove its value to the business. This is a win-win way to work together. 

Marketing should apply its understanding of defining audiences and building profiles. Human Resources will bring its expertise on who makes a successful candidate for different roles. These teams should share ownership of the formation and use of the applicant profile. 

It’s common that HR teams have a full list of day-to-day responsibilities and have little space to step back and think this way. They hold all of this information in their heads, in their records, and in their expertise. Marketing can help document it and provide additional strategic context.

Get Specific

Each role and level will have an applicant profile. It’s not one size fits all. Start by making a list of every profile you will need, but remember to prioritize. While you might need to work through each of them now, there are a few factors that determine which one you build first. 

If there’s a role that’s been particularly difficult to fill, that can be a good starting point. Another way to prioritize is to analyze which open roles have the most opportunity cost when they sit empty. 

Manufacturers are in a unique position right now. There’s a healthy fear of growth because of the inability to hire quality candidates to deliver on what’s being sold. Evaluating and assigning a dollar amount to unfilled positions can be a helpful prioritization tool.

Involve & Listen to Recent Hires

Your company’s recent hires are one of the keys to creating successful applicant profiles , and one that’s often overlooked. Use your interviewing, onboarding and training processes to collect information and curate a list of questions that help add depth to applicant profiles.

You’ll want to understand what made them leave their last job. Go beyond the compensation and benefits. Ask them about why your job post or company stood out to them. 

To put this in perspective, by 2030 there will be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs. More competition for you means more choices for any applicant. Those who are choosing to apply for your job – whether it’s their first or a job change – are choosing it for a reason. Seek to understand that reason and build on it. 

In addition to the big “why”-related questions, ask about practical things like where did they see the job posting, who told them about it, and what methods they used to look for other job postings.

Document Trends

Profiles usually evolve and change, along with the needs of the business, department or role. Find a way to document the trends as new staff members join, current staff members leave, and people transfer into new roles. 

Elements of a Well-Rounded Profile

The Facts 

A well-rounded profile begins with data. This is where you’ll include things like demographics, experience or prerequisites. This should be a blend of basics and trends. Go beyond the requirements to do the job by including  trends HR identified that make a person successful in specific  roles.

For example, a trend could be you’ve hired three candidates who came from this type of role before and they all outperformed our expectations. Or we’ve hired people missing this experience from their work history and they did not work out.

Their Influences

This section is focuses on how you reach the target applicants. It covers things like where they’re looking for jobs, how they’re researching companies and jobs, and what’s driving them to apply. To get a full profile, you’ll want to combine both digital and non-digital elements. Consider the people in their lives who may share job postings with them or influence their outlook of companies they may want to work with.

Their Motivations

This section drives your messaging. Motivating someone to leave their current job, with people they know and responsibilities they understand isn’t an easy task. Beyond financial implications, this section dives into motivating factors for your key applicants. 

For example, is your position a better schedule or closer to home? Have you seen employees who have left bad bosses be successful in your organization? Some employees are leaving or choosing their first job based on the skills and training they might learn in a new role. 

The goal of this section is to understand the applicants well enough to write job descriptions and content that highlights the components of your role(s), department or company that addresses their current pain points.

Another way to approach this section is thinking about answering the question – why would I want to work in this role at this company? The applicants have choices, messaging can sway them to pick your role. But you need to answer that question in a way that’s appealing to them.

Use Cases for an Applicant Profile

If you’ve done all of the hard work above, don’t let your applicant profile(s) sit on your hard drive. Put them to good use. Let’s look at a few ways to do that.

Build Your Applicant Marketing Mix

The marketing mix, or marketing plan, to fill your priority jobs should be informed by  the applicant profile. Similar to how Marketing creates different pathways for  different audiences, creating intentional avenues for how you’ll promote your job postings will yield better results. Your profile(s) should give you the ingredients you need to build out your plan. 

Influence Your Website

If hiring is a top priority, it should be evident on your website. The deep understanding you have gained through building profiles should help:

  • Create website user flows – where are they coming from, where do they need to go, and how does your website get them there
  • Organize information – how is information successfully prioritized for this audience to find what they need and take the desired action
  • Optimize user experience – their expectations, needs and motivations can help drive the experience you build for them on your website.

Evaluate, Build or Buy Applicant Tools

With a well-defined applicant profile, you’ll understand which application tools will be most beneficial. A technology investment can be daunting, but this information can help you prioritize what will attract and convert your potential workforce. It’s also helpful to evaluate any current tools you use to see if you’re making or getting the most out of them.

Write Your Job Posts

Over 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs makes it difficult for any one job post or opening to stand out. However, if you’ve done the work on your applicant profile, you can tailor the job post to get their attention and post it where they’re looking. If there’s something that makes your role a particularly good match for their motivations, put that at the top of your job post. 

A clearer understanding of your key applicant audiences can give you a recruiting advantage.

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