Aligning Candidate Personas to Actual Recruitment Strategies

By Maren Hogan

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Editor’s Note: These are the notes and visuals from Maren Hogan’s presentation.

I'm certain you know about candidate personas and the importance, but in this post, we're giving you a deeper dive into how you can use these personas to build a hiring strategy that won't stop. Even better? Your candidate experience will be through the roof. 

Identifying the Candidate Personas

Building a candidate persona for recruitment is just like building a buyer persona in marketing. The same rules apply as they rely heavily on research and common sense to understand the target audience. Candidate personas, like buyer personas, need to focus on three things to be effective:

  • Who this person is
  • What they do all day
  • What issues keep them up at night

Casting Call: Picture your new hire as if they were in a movie. What would their perfect on-screen doppelganger do? What kind of attitude would they have? Most importantly where are they RIGHT NOW? Stuck in a dead end job? Desperate for leadership experience and focus? Feeling overlooked at a safe but unfulfilling job? How old are they? What level of education do they have? Who do they report to? How are their results measured?

Forensic Evidence: Once you’ve created a sketch of the persona, go through LinkedIn profiles to see what his or her colleagues do, read, how long they’ve been in a certain position, what groups they’re in, the works. This can really help you figure out what appeals to them. It can also give you solid insight into their retention numbers and what sort of recommendations ideal candidates might receive. You can get an idea of schools these folks went to, what kind of hobbies they might have and more. I always use an amalgamation of traits to get a good picture.

Write the script: This is the fun part. Try to figure out what makes them tick, use the info gleaned from people like them to gauge whether they listen to Spotify or Pandora, value work-life balance over money or are due for a move in the next six months. Does this person get along with superiors or might they want to work alone? Ask yourself anything, and then attempt to answer it. I give our personas a name. I try to imagine where they grew up, what is valuable to them and then fill in what channels are most likely to reach them wherever they are (online or IRL).

Create a winning recruitment strategy with this step by step guide for creating candidate personas!

Step 1: Create Job Family Personas

It’s like a candidate persona tree, so, for example, you have your Management positions as the main persona, but then the different departments where the management roles are housed would be your sub-candidate persona.

Job Family Personas Example:

Management – What kind of managers are successful at our company? Are our best managers successful because they’re team players with a first here, last to leave mentality OR are our managers successful because they command authority and have mastered delegation? Do we need management teams who take direction and do what they’re told from management above or do we need managers with entrepreneurial spirits and aren’t afraid to pioneer their own paths to create new processes or departments?

Being a good manager means different things to different companies depending on your organizational structure and culture, but it’s defining those characteristics that shape your entire plan.

Once you have this understanding, you’ll build out actual candidate personas to inform SEO keywords to be used in all copy, job ad messaging, social messaging and all outreach. We’ll call them power words.

Step 2: Make the Candidate the Star of the Ad

The job ad should resonate with candidates and speak to your targeted candidate personas. Fill out the below candidate persona worksheet and keep it at top of mind when creating the content of the mobile ad. What do the below people like or dislike? What kinds of jobs appeal to them? If you’re hiring for a position that will need to pioneer a new role, department or market in your organization, their persona could look like this:

Age Range:_______________________________________________

(e.g. 30 – 45 years of age)

Education:_______________________________________________

(e.g. Bachelor’s Degree; Finance, Economics, etc.)

Skill Level:_______________________________________________

(e.g. 5+ years of management experience)

Career Goals:_____________________________________________

(e.g. Aspirations to drive their own department or create a new path in the organization)

Personality Type Most Successful in the Role:_______________________

(e.g. Entrepreneurial spirit, wants to own their own business but doesn’t want the stress of it.)

You already know someone like this if there is a similar role in your company. Ask this person about their mobile habits. Where might they be online? What initially attracted them to the role?

  • What are they looking for in an employer?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What kind of work/life balance benefits them the best?
  • What challenges stem from their upbringing?
  • What are their long-term professional and personal goals?
  • What objections may they have to work in your industry or company?
  • What life-stage are they currently in? What milestones have they met or what milestones do they expect in their future?

Keep in mind this can’t be discriminatory, but if having a family is important to your target candidate, then highlight the great benefits your company offers to make their work/life balanced.

How do you gather this info?

Create a survey using Survey Monkey or QZZR that you can send out to your personal or professional network to gather data. You may seek resources in the most unlikely places… For example, your little brother who is on active duty with an extensive network of new veterans or your cousin Laura who is a stay at home mom with a college degree and looking for remote work are real-life resources you can use to draw up a persona draft.

Try This: Don’t be afraid to post to your personal Facebook or Twitter and ask your friends if they know anyone who fits a brief description of your targeted talent pool. The more people you can recruit for information, the better.

What Does All of the Info Tell You?

Look for common answers and develop a way to organize trends for each category. If the position you’re hiring for is a desk job, but the candidate you’re targeting is a military veteran with a bachelor’s degree who doesn’t want a desk job then your recruitment messaging needs to focus on the other parts of the job that don’t require desk work.

Use your candidate personas as a cultural fit template. Todd Raphael (@ToddRaphael), Editor in Chief of Recruiting Media Company explains,

“Hiring for cultural fit above skills is a great idea, because you never know how much an employee will be developing, growing and changing over time — they could be in a completely different role by next year… And it makes sense to do so based on the industry and market you’re in, too: If you’re an accounting company, for instance, you don’t necessarily want to hire someone who’s chaotic and extremely creative. If you’re a cutthroat, uber-competitive, cutting-edge company, you don’t want to hire someone who’s very laid-back and not as driven by competition, for instance…”

Try This: To best organize your candidate personas (and all of the personality details mentioned above), try using an outline format or bulleted list.

Candidate Persona Title

Personal

  • Lifestage
  • Background/ Upbringing – Morals
  • Background/ Upbringing – Challenges
  • Work/Life Balance Needs
  • Personal Goals

Professional

  • Workforce Expectations
  • Workplace Expectations
  • Professional Goals

THIS is the first step to ensuring every point of the recruiting process keeps the candidate in mind. It’s especially important when reaching out to candidates, scheduling social recruitment messaging, creating job advertisements and building any recruitment messaging out in general.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of creating personas:

At RBM, we create them in the very beginning of strategy development which provides reference materials for decisions. When there’s confusion or pushback, we point back to them to be sure the candidate is the foundation of our decision. We aren’t always right, but we always have confidence that the final product actually considers the hire we want. It’s crucial to make these first so your content and that’s everything that hits the job seeker’s eyeballs, is written FOR THEM.

Below is are 3 different examples of candidate personas. The first was created for an international protein company who was hiring for supervisor roles within multiple plants. The second was for a well-known pharmaceutical company who was looking for top talent in various cities across the US. The last were created for an international financial technology company who needed to hire a new CFO and was struggling to form a recruitment strategy for the critical executive role.

National Protein Company Supervisor

There were numerous supervisor roles available, but the company needed specific skillsets to ensure the position was handled appropriately. Below are 3 candidates who could fit the job.

Business Major

  • Is getting his business degree, but doesn’t know what to do after school
  • Has the desire to make money fast
  • Doesn’t mind relocating
  • Agriculture Econ major
  • Agriculture major
  • Operations Major
  • Supply Chain Major
  • Food Processing Major
  • Industrial Engineering Major
  • International Student
  • Military Veterans in College
  • Military Veteran Graduates
  • Military Veterans with desire to go to college

Ex-Military/Veteran

  • Doesn’t want a desk job (or would prefer to have a desk job/ field job)
  • Considering education (college, university or technical school)
  • Craves fast-paced environments
  • Forming bonds and strong relationships with coworkers/ managers/ teams is a must
  • Respects authority and upper management
  • Works well or appropriately with teams
  • Depending on military duty, may have disabilities or PTSD (so hard labor isn’t an option for them)
  • Goal-oriented, organized (almost to the point of OCD) and disciplined
  • Adapts well to working odd hours and/ or changing work schedules
  • Adapts well to changing environments and people
  • Able to assess risk and has high-level problem-solving skills
  • Used to working in crisis situations
  • Used to working long hours, nights, weekends and holidays
  • Knowledge of heavy equipment and safety skills for operating heavy equipment

Rural Resident

  • Have a family farm, but not interested in working on farm… looks for a job where they can be out on the floor or in the field (not literal) and may have the desire to work a desk job (but 50/50 is ideal)
  • Hardworking and disciplined
  • Work-life balance is important
  • Knowledge of heavy equipment and safety skills for operating heavy equipment
  • Usually, have knowledge of animal life (farm animals)
  • Not easily grossed out by slaughtering or beef, chicken, etc. manufacturing
  • Not afraid of physical labor
  • Desire to relocate and move out of rural area
  • May be intolerant of other cultures and diversity
  • Conservative values, passionate about beliefs, set in their ways
  • More likely to start their families at a younger age (marriage and children)
  • Don’t want to move far from where they grew up and may be against relocation
  • Feel inclined or responsible to stay in their hometown or working on family farm
  • Feel responsible for caring for family members
  • Adapts well to changing environments
  • Used to working long hours, nights, weekends and holidays (if they are a farm worker)
  • Enjoy small town living and open country

Technical Role for a Well-Known Pharmaceutical Company

Midwest

  • Background: Often grew up in Indiana or attended college nearby. Likely had a relative or friend of the family that worked in pharma. When out of town, very likely attracted to the benefits offered by the well-known organization and interested in a lower cost of living in Indianapolis.
  • Status: If not entry-level, then has worked for a competitor in a similar capacity. Is attracted not by compensation as much as by benefits and family “feel”.
  • Experience: Either entry-level or a leader in the field. Because of many proprietary processes, those in the middle of their career tend to last three years or less (on average). Experience in a corporate or lab environment.
  • Education: Degreed with very few exceptions. Preferably in the sciences or biotech.
  • Career Path: Recruited on campus during the junior or senior year or recruited from a competitor on one of the coasts with aforementioned LCOL and benefits package. Generally, someone seeking stability about 4-5 years out of college due to impending family concerns.
  • Locations: Born in Indiana OR the Midwest or Pacific Northwest. If coastal, willing to relocate for the community, LCOL and stability (as opposed to the startup environment).
  • Mannerisms: Seeks structure and stability before other work rewards. Enjoys teamwork and is not individualistic in nature. Long-term thinking and a methodical approach to hierarchy and project management.
  • Personality Traits: Ambiverts do well at this organization, due to the solitary nature of some of the positions that are high level combined with the inclusive, family-oriented culture. Those who enjoy the work ethic and practicality of the Midwest thrive at this organization, while those seeking a fast-paced startup environment find themselves frustrated.

Cambridge

In Cambridge, there are many smart, ambitious people. Long a hub for scientific exploration, the town has recently become a haven for innovation labs of large companies like IBM, Transgen and Microsoft. Due to the number of facilities being built there to capitalize on talent emerging from MIT, Harvard and Yale, the competition for top talent (particularly in the sciences) is fierce. In order to compete in this environment, the pharma company recruits and staffs in a very different way than in their HQ in the Midwest. Here is a rundown of the candidate persona for Cambridge:

  • Mannerisms: Seeks status and is likely an introvert by nature. Highly focused on a specific goal and wants to contribute to a larger body of work. Compensation will be a driver in this market. Recommend a new set of Compensation Models for industry and location specifically.
  • Background: Likely went to school at an Ivy league or prestigious college. Education is very important to them and status also drives them (or those close to them -spouses, family-). Has a strong desire to make a “mark” on the world around them and will seek out internships or “innovation labs” where they can work on the latest and greatest thing in their chosen field.
  • Status: Entry-level career. Experience working in other “innovation labs” in Boston. Average tenure (due to governmental shifts over the last 14 months) is tentative. A possible alternative in post-doc research candidates as there is a current glut of these in the area. Offering to relocate or giving them a chance to “run a lab” (the private sector equivalent in status to being on the tenure track in academia) it could be a great recruiting opportunity.

San Diego

  • In San Diego, the competition is different. While the biotech scene here is just as robust as that in Cambridge, the scene is one of collaboration and a more relaxed approach to life sciences. There is a thriving biotech community that is not solely based on entry-level scientists or post-doc researchers but built around older, more experienced scientists who, while deeply committed, enjoy a healthy work-life balance (compared to others in the same field).
  • Background: An experienced mid- to late- career scientist, like one who has published research repeatedly and worked for one of the organization’s competitors. Entry level folks may need to be relocated from HQ if possible and given a COL bump.
  • Status: They are currently working for a competitor or on the lecturing circuit. Likely will crave prestige as a motivator and the ability to have flexible work hours. Continuing education in the form of conferences and classes may also be important to this person.
  • Experience: Likely the most experienced group, these people are easier to find due to the highly social nature of the San Diego biotech scene. It is extremely collaborative for a competitive market, perhaps because many of the people fostering this community are well-established in their careers and have the ability to select which company they work with.
  • Education: Post-doctoral in many cases. Scientific designation needed possibly.

CFO for an International Financial Tech Company

What is Jennifer’s Background?

Jennifer has worked her way through the ranks to become part of senior leadership within her organization. She is primarily (and sometimes solely) responsible for financial administration and oversight of funds and reports to the CFO. She is likely around 45-55 years old and has been with the same company for 4-7 years. Jennifer probably has a CPA and is well-versed in the B2B environment, specifically around finance.

She assists in the development of new models and needs to constantly take into consideration, the market, regulatory and business environments in which her funds operate.

Jennifer is highly visible within the organization and requires working cross-functionally with all levels of management in areas including Portfolio Management, Operations, Legal, Compliance, Product Development, Sales/Distribution, Client Service, Corporate Finance and the various vendors that provide services to the Funds. She also provides support for ongoing reporting/relationships with the various governing bodies that oversee the Funds including the Board of Directors.

What does Jennifer do all day?

Jennifer oversees operations related to the funds that include daily net asset values, valuation, distributions, expenses, tax matters, shareholder recordkeeping, custody of assets, implementation of accounting policies, new instruments, periodic review and update of offering documents, issue identification, management and resolution.

Jennifer likely has these traits:

  • Highly analytical
  • Organized
  • Manages time well
  • Reporting
  • Attention to Detail
  • Interpersonal skills to work with multiple departments

How is Jennifer evaluated?

  • Timeliness and accuracy of reporting
  • Adaptability for internal and external (market-related) “events”
  • Management skills (project, team, change)
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Communication deadlines
  • Process Improvement

What keeps Jennifer up at night?

Jennifer’s entire job depends on getting accurate information out in near real-time. With the advent of digital, her job got more complex because she needs to get the information, tabulate the results, pull from multiple sources, make sure it’s accurate and attractive and then redistribute that information to multiple groups on multiple platforms, all while meeting very specific regulatory guidelines. She is terrified of falling behind.

Jennifer has a very strong sense of URGENCY in her daily job.

What are Jennifer’s barriers?

Trust. Jennifer needs to know she is working with a team that has a track record and is used by other thought leaders in the financial industry. Combat this with more information about your management team on the website and the proposal, as well as additional and more robust case studies.

Another Candidate Persona Example:

Managers who have the desire to own their own business, but haven’t followed through because of the risk or lack of resources would be targeted for an unstructured company, a new business or even a structured corporate organization that needs to enter a new market or provide a new service or product.

Power words: personal development, career development, career growth, autonomy

Step 3: Putting Completed Candidate Personas to Use

Provide Recruiters with Candidate Personas

Like we discussed in the job advertisement and job description section, you’ll want your recruiting team to have candidate personas in hand to know what kind of employee fits best into the role. By doing so, you’ll reduce that applicant-to-interview ratio so later on down the road the candidate-to-hire ratio is one you can be proud of!

In recruiting, candidates can be segmented much like consumers so recruiters can adapt their recruitment messaging and improve results. This is particularly important when it comes to creating job advertisements.

Let’s take everyone’s FAVORITE Generation, Gen Y:

Pretend you’re targeting Gen Y job seekers who have obtained their bachelor’s degree. First, you’ll want to fire up Google and research issues and trends influencing your targeted candidate audience. Make sure to set search parameters to be timely, within the past month or past year (no later), and relevant. Gather as much statistical information as you can and compile a brief trend report that highlights key identifiers of your targeted group.

Research from our Multi-Generational Job Search Study shows:

  • 57% of Gen Y job seekers value meaningful work and job security.
  • Gen Y job seekers value workplace flexibility (30%) and higher salary (41%) more than Gen X and Baby Boomers.
  • Almost half (48%) of Gen Y has considered going back to school instead of continuing their job search.
  • 31% of Gen Y job seekers have considered starting their own business instead of continuing their job search.

From the research, you can see that your targeted audience is concerned with job security and doing meaningful work, values workplace flexibility and a higher salary more than other working generations, and is more inclined to go back to school or start their own business instead of continuing their job search. This tells us that Gen Y job seekers are ready to do what it takes to build their career, they want to do work they’re passionate about, be compensated well, have a work/life balance and feel secure in their positions.

While it’s not safe to stereotype a candidate segment, it is okay to use the information as a generalized framework for recruitment messaging creation. As a conclusion to this brief, you’ll want to exemplify how your company, if applicable, supplies these generational demands.

The job advertisement should highlight:

  • Current or optional flex scheduling
  • Competitive compensation ranges and mention any pay-for-performance programs, employee referral programs, or any other monetary reward programs your company offers
  • Opportunities for managing individual or team projects to appeal to their entrepreneurial side
  • Any internal learning and development programs or college tuition reimbursement benefits
  • Any part of the company’s mission that speaks to Gen Y’s value of producing meaningful work

The next step in marketer speak is to align your buyer personas with the sales stages. We do this in marketing to create content that reaches the person at the right time, and this can be applied to your candidates too. The passive to active spectrum is ever-growing as technology is giving candidates more options than ever before.

Branding and Marketing have lots in common. Numero Uno? They all run on content. If marketing and branding campaigns are the car, then content my friends is the fuel.

For our purposes today, content includes, of course, blog posts, but also literally anything your audience can consume:

  • Resource List
  • Ratings
  • Hidden Thought
  • Research Focused
  • Series
  • Product Spotlight
  • Mini Case Study
  • Industry Spotlight
  • Now and Then
  • Shopping List
  • OPinion
  • Reasons
  • Infographic
  • Podcast Post
  • Video Post
  • Stats Piece/Brief
  • Quote Based
  • GIF Post
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Trend Pieces
  • Newsjacking
  • Pop Culture Tie-In
  • How To (at least 3 steps)
  • 10x (long as HEEEELL)
  • Example (at least 3)
  • Fight Club
  • Q+A (can be faked)
  • Why
  • Comparison/versus
  • Roundup
  • Metaphor
  • Personal Story
  • Predictions
  • Fails!
  • Guides
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Podcast
  • Tear sheets
  • Listicles
  • Diaries
  • Infographics
  • One Graphic
  • Diagram
  • Meme
  • Posters
  • Comics
  • Cartoons
  • Screenshots
  • GIFs
  • Illustrations
  • Handwritten things
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Quizzes
  • Video
  • Webinar
  • Presentations
  • Photo Galleries
  • FAQs
  • Recaps (events/twitter chat)
  • Placed articles
  • Press releases

And more! Any I forgot?

Step 4: Align Recruitment Stages to Candidates

The next step in marketer speak is to align your buyer personas with the sales stages. We do this in marketing to create content that reaches the person at the right time, and this can be applied to your candidates too.

The passive to active spectrum is ever-growing as technology is giving candidates more options than ever before. In content marketing, the sales stages are Awareness, Consideration and Decision.

  • Awareness of the company and open role
  • Consideration to apply for the role
  • Decision to move forward with the interview process

Now, these 3 stages can be aligned with your candidate personas, like this:

Awareness

How do you get candidates to even know about your company and the positions it’s offering? You use:

  • Short videos (funny and informational)
  • GIF/list posts (think Buzzfeed style)
  • Quora/answering questions
  • Reddit/posting in relevant groups
  • Memes
  • Comics
  • Quizzes

Basically, all the fun stuff! Remember, these don’t have to be specific about your company or too promotional. You don’t have to overtly have your logo and mentions of your company plastered everywhere. If you create great content it will do the talking for your brand.

Consideration

How do you get candidates to start applying for a role at your company?

What do they need to know? What are they most concerned with? Do your research! So they see you’re super cool but have you told them what real people at your company are like? What they’ll be expected to do? Have you profiled that marketing superstar that never graduated high school or that Comicon addict who’s the best finance analyst you know? They know who you are, now show them why THEY should be part of YOU.

  • Infographics showing your makeup (diversity, depts they may not know about)
  • Blog articles about great work or fun projects
  • Quote Posts
  • Employee Testimonials/Showcases
  • Q & As
  • Personal Employee Stories
  • FAQs
  • Behind the scenes peek (employees, the HR department, company parties)

Decision

What resources do they need to help them move forward?

Give them everything they need to make them feel confident moving forward. This serves a couple of purposes. One, they’ve already given you a pass but now if they’ve applied, you’re competing with other, faster organizations. So how can you stand out? Well, detailed explanations of compensation, your hierarchy (or lack thereof) and of course, useful information.

Numero Dos? Providing this information beforehand can help them self-select out of the process. If you publicly share a diagram of your organizational chart and the ebbs and flow of each department, you’re helping a candidate who is looking for a flat organization self-select out of the process before you waste your time screening and interviewing them. Get that information out there with these:

  • How To (at least 3 steps)
  • Comparison/versus (Why we’re better than the other guys)
  • Guides (How to be a successful FILL IN THE BLANK)
  • Worksheets
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Diagrams
  • Reviews

A key goal here is to create content that not only attracts those who have already applied but is still relevant for those earlier in the funnel. As we all know the candidate experience doesn’t stop with the application, or even the offer letter. So start building past just attraction and seal the deal. What if you put your offer letter, swag intro, employee reviews or even interview scheduling emails into your editorial calendar? It’s what marketers do, right down to the last three stages of that funnel we discussed.

  • Retention – Keep em in the process
  • Renewal – Beat your competition to the offer and onboarding
  • Sales Enablement – Give your managers the tools they need to seal the deal

A great example of this is a little booklet I stumbled across a few years ago on how to break into web development. This was geared to be of help to a new graphic design or web developer and as soon as I downloaded it, I received a follow up from the person managing TA at the company.

Other examples include packing checklists for traveling nurses, interview guides for career centers in target schools, goal setting workbooks for management candidates and more. We all need a little help doing our job and many of us find it on the internet. Once you start creating candidate focused downloadables you will have a much better chance of attracting new applicants.

Now we’re ALMOST ready to start filling those little squares in. But we have to do a few more things to do first.

  • Alignment in Industry: If you are recruiting in a specific field or industry, it may make sense for you to grab the editorial calendars of those professional associations. While you may never publish in them or purchase ads, knowing which areas they are covering for the coming year may give you ideas about how to structure your own calendar.
  • Competitive Intel and Research: First, there is nothing your competitor is doing that you cannot do better. It’s a maxim I live by. So, find out what they are doing. No one in your competitive realm trying to kill em with content? Then look to someone from another industry who is doing so.

If I may make a suggestion, try the medical recruiting industry. They work their butts off shining a light on their candidates and recruiting them with videos, contests, social media — you name it. Also, remember those groups I told you to pay attention to when you were scoping LI for your personas? Now’s the time to head in and see what all the fuss is about. Which articles are they clicking and liking, which influencers do they follow, which online communities are their watering holes of choice? I literally copy and paste links into an inspiration section of our calendar. This is what they want to read/watch/consume.

And remember events. Your editorial calendar for hiring is NOTHING without events underpinning it. When are you headed to recruiting events? When did product say you’d need an influx of data entry people? How full is your campus recruiting schedule? And this isn’t just about actual events but also about historical data. What have been your high and low points of the last year or three years? People often build out calendars like schedules and they are NOT, you simply don’t need as much content in August as you do in March.

Take inventory of recruiting content you already have. In some cases, re-optimizing a page on your career site, or building a new opener for a corporate video can instantly repurpose content and fill a hole in your ed cal.

Okay, got all that? Now let’s talk structure. We use Google Sheets for our editorial calendars but there are plenty of plugins if you’re a Hubspot or WordPress user you can use, especially if you’re only managing one blog or set of social tools:

Start with the funnel build:

  • Lay out your personas on the left. Yours can be role-based or they might be seniority based, but make sure they each have their own line for every stage of the cycle.
  • Build your stages across the top. This gives your content a linear feel and makes it easier to fill in the blanks. Awareness, Consideration and Decision if you want to start simple and Interview, Hire, and Onboard if you wanna get crazy.
  • Select your content types. At RBM, we use little acronyms for all of them because there are a lot. We just create a large space above the calendar to spell out what they all mean. Pro Tip: If they’re all blog posts, you’re doing it wrong 
  • Under each section, write a question your persona might ask. This can help you determine if the content you place there later is actually helpful or you just wanna be done with this whole exercise already.
  • Fill in content types until you have all the blanks completed and a solid cycle or piece of content in each section. You don’t have to fill every square (although it will make your job easier later) but you do need to make sure you’re hitting every stage and substage. This is a great place to add your inspiration links.

Next, the Ed Cal Build

NOW we can use this to build your editorial calendar!

Build Campaign Ideas

At RBM we build out a campaign for every month or so. Use the info gleaned from both your hiring research and the editorial calendars you collected earlier. Depending on how often you plan on releasing content, you may want to include social updates and imagery in this section.

Separate them out using one of the following criteria:

  • Month
  • Time to Hire
  • Quarterly hiring goals

It will be very tough to create content for every persona in every stage every month, so keep in mind that awareness and even consideration content can serve dual purposes. For example, a video you create for one persona in the awareness section might be just the thing to send someone in the decision phase. Or your blog post about the engineering team could be exciting to someone applying to your marketing department.

  • At the top add your internal code (ours is color-coded and reads: written, internally approved, sent to client, client approved, published)
  • In the space at the top, you should also list your authors and what categories, tone and topics they cover.
  • Now add your month, campaign name and days and dates along the side (this is important because some days are better to publish on and you’ll be adding in events later).
  • If you’d like, add the resource type. These are the little codes that tell you what kind of content it is. Hint! You can repurpose an article into a podcast and a stats brief into a video! Gasp.
  • The next column should contain your headlines: Whether it’s the headline of a blog article, a video, a subject line, social message or guide, it has to follow a successful formula. And we ALWAYS choose to turn to research.
  • Add a column for the author as well, so you don’t repeat the same voice over and over. After all isn’t the goal to include people?
  • Then add the link once it’s published for record keeping.
  • In the final column add your inspiration links, preferably from competitors or companies you admire.

Outbrain conducted a study of 150,000 article headlines to see which characteristics got the most clicks. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Titles with eight words had the highest click-through rates and performed 21% better than average.
  • Using a colon or hyphen to indicate a subtitle improves headlines by 9% (hint: this is where the #3 tip – increasing length – can come into play).
  • Attach an image to increase clicks by 27%, and make sure the image size is optimized for social feeds.
  • Use numbers in your headline to increase the click-through rate, especially odd numbers because they have a 20% higher click rate than even numbers.

Another great tool? Hubspot’s Headline Generator. Just google it and WIN NO MATTER WHAT.

We’re just building an editorial calendar here. If you don’t want to do all that hard work then you can simply head to our website and grab a copy of both the content funnel and the editorial calendar. Of course, it’s empty so how you fill it is up to you. Just download or add the document to your own Drive to get started.

Some Additional Content Marketing Tips

  • Copy: We always require our content team to provide what we call “inspires” on whatever subject matter or type of content they’re creating. Email: needs a layout inspire, Blog: needs a competitor inspire, Landing Page: needs an inspire, Social Posts: needs successful inspire. Why? So we can create better content than the best content that’s already out there!
  • CTAs: These are the most important aspect of your content and should be at top of mind no matter what stage or persona you’re working in. Every piece created should lead them to the next piece. Link related articles up, send them to the next appropriate step in the process with bolded links, callouts, buttons, whatever works for your system! The key idea is to drive them from your top of the funnel (awareness) content to your middle of the funnel (consideration) to the bottom of the funnel (decision) and get their emails!

Now once you get on a roll of creating lots of content, you can go back and repurpose it all to create even better more engaging content. By looking at what’s been the most successful (most views, most CTA clicks, most downloads)! Combine blog articles to create a guide, turn an employee testimonial blog into a video, and so on!

In fact, this entire presentation/post was created from content myself or my team had already made!

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