Making a Candidate Persona: Examples + Template

Making a Candidate Persona
Created by CakeResume

When posting a job opening, recruiters and employers envision their ideal candidate and form their advertisement with them in mind. The ideal candidate is known as a candidate persona. Open positions can attract hundreds of applicants, so recruiters use candidate personas to help narrow down their target candidates. Candidate personas help recruiters filter candidates and avoid deal breakers such as lack of experience, incompatibility with company culture or lack of industry knowledge.

Whether you’re hiring through LinkedIn, a job site or your own company website, candidate personas can help you bring in the perfect new hire into your team.

What Is a Candidate Persona?

A candidate persona is a fictional profile written by employers and recruiters, outlining the target candidate for the role. These candidate personas help narrow down the pool of applicants, as recruiters will not have to waste time reaching out to candidates who do not meet the criteria for the target candidate. Candidate personas are essential in the hiring process as it creates a way for recruiters to know what to look for in a target candidate.

Candidate personas include the basics such as demographics, educational background and experience, as well as job preferences and behaviors, to fit the company culture. 

Candidate Persona Examples

There is no one way to make a candidate persona; it should include the essentials for the role as well as the personal attributes needed by the team or department. Depending on the role and company, candidate personas can vary in style and detail. Here are candidate personas for reference when making your own: 

💼 Candidate Persona: Senior Business Analyst


  • Education: Tertiary degree in Business, Finance, Commerce or related disciplines
  • Skills: Project management, risk management, data analysis & related software 
  • Experience: 2+ years of experience with a proven track record of success in a related role


  • Competitor Companies: Other banking or finance firms
  • Current Role: Project manager, business analyst, data analyst
  • Current Dissatisfactions: low pay, stagnant role, lack of variety in projects, lack of up-skilling
  • Previous Experience: Project manager, data analyst, operations or other business analyst roles


  • Location: Greater Dulock Area
  • Salary: 90-100k + lunches or other employee allowances
  • Communication/Work style: In-person, leader, team player
  • Motivation: numerical goals, feedback, bonuses, social events 

💼 Candidate Persona: HR Generalist 


  • Education: Tertiary degree in Human resources, Law, Industrial relations or related disciplines
  • Skills: relationship building skills, organization, knowledge of local and national employment laws & regulations
  • Years of Experience: 4+ years in a related role


  • Competitor companies: None specific – other mid-to-large scale firms 
  • Current Dissatisfactions: small firm, low pay, lack of company culture
  • Current Role: HR manager, people & culture officer
  • Previous experience: HR manager, People & Culture officer in a mid-to-large scale firm


  • Location: Greater Jonestown Area
  • Off-site: Can work hybrid/remote
  • Communication/Work style: Leader, assertive, in person and online
  • Motivations: qualitative feedback, monetary bonuses

As you can see, both candidate personas have the same categories with subtle differences in skills, motivations and experiences. Having more detail and variety within candidate personas allows recruiters to make informed decisions regarding candidate personality and company culture. 

How to Create a Candidate Persona

Candidate personas are a reference point for HR and recruiters to use when filtering through applicants. A target candidate is outlined in their candidate persona; however there needs to be compromise during the hiring process. When writing a profile for your ideal candidate, make sure the requirements you list have flexibility, as making a strict target candidate profile will hinder your process. 

📝 Gather information

To form a candidate persona, recruiters should have a thorough understanding of the job requirements, team dynamics and company culture. Even though it's tempting to demand extensive experience and skills, having a well-rounded ideal candidate profile will garner better results.

Here are ways to gather information about the target candidate: 

  • Research the role: 

Research the industry and role that you are writing your candidate persona for. Determine the most common job titles associated with the role you are hiring for and include them in your candidate persona as current or previous job titles. When researching the role, narrow down what hard skills, industry knowledge and experiences are necessary for the target candidate to have. 

  • Survey stakeholders: 

Ask the key stakeholders in the department or company what their target candidate needs. Stakeholders within the company will have a more rigid approach to discussing the ideal candidate's profile – as higher-ups are usually concerned more with budget and productivity. Consider interviewing the managers, directors, recruiters and HR within the company to find out exactly what their department or team requires and form your candidate persona based on their input. 

  • Interview team members: 

Asking the existing team what they need will provide you with valuable information regarding skills and experience required, as well as behavioral attributes such as teamwork and collaboration. Likewise, use a team interview to assess the team dynamic and demographics to make sure the target candidate will easily fit the team. You can also review the company’s DEI initiatives and make note of ways to improve the diversity in the workplace through the candidate persona. As team members are not involved in the hiring process, letting them provide input towards the candidate persona can help the recruitment process before it begins.

📝 Identify trends

Look at hiring trends for the industry or role you are making the candidate persona for. Consider the years of experience, pay range and skills which are in demand by recruiters and use them when writing your ideal candidate profile. To maintain a realistic candidate persona, consider using hiring trends to form the upper and lower limits in experience and pay. 

📝 Create persona stories

To stop candidate personas from becoming a checklist of “must haves” for the target candidate to have, make a short story which reflects the ideal candidate’s profile. In a candidate persona story, you can include the motivations, experiences and goals that your target candidate would likely mention in an interview. 

You can use candidate persona stories as a way to involve the feedback from the existing team.  Current employees would likely value team players, strong communicators and multitaskers over the years of experience the candidate has. 

Candidate Persona Template

After you have researched what is in demand from employees, stakeholders and the industry, it's time to form your own candidate persona. Consider how the target candidate will suit the existing team personally and professionally while keeping stakeholder’s priorities in mind.

To make it easier, we have a candidate persona template for you to use!

[Job title] – Candidate Persona


[number of years] years of Experience in [role or industry]
Skills: [Skills in Programs/Equipment/Techniques]
Education: [Degree Level & Discipline/Major]


Current role: [Applicable job titles]
Current job Dissatisfaction: [reasons candidate is unsatisfied in current role]
Previous Experience: [previous role or industry]
Location: [location to hire within]
Off-site: [remote/hybrid/relocation opportunities]


Goals: [list candidate professional goals]
Work style: [list work style or attributes needed]
Motivations: [employee professional motivations such as bonuses etc]
Salary: [salary range according to trends & budget]

Hiring Tactics

Hiring Platform: [list platforms to hire from] 
Professional channels: [professional profiles on LinkedIn] 
DEI initiatives: [Diversity gaps such as gender, race etc]

🔑 Key Takeaways

Overall, a candidate persona is a mock-up of the target candidate which recruiters reference during the hiring process. Using personas in recruiting means that well-rounded candidates are interviewed and selected instead of using a rigid checklist to make decisions.

Likewise, candidate persona stories can involve the input of important people such as stakeholders and current employees who otherwise would not get input regarding the ideal employee persona. Use industry trends and our candidate persona template to build your own candidate persona to easily vet applicants!

Hire better with less effort! With thousands of active members with their resumes on CakeResume, you can easily find your ideal candidates and reach out to them.

--- Originally written by Bronte McNamara ---

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