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Take a minute to review your company’s careers page. In all likelihood, it depicts life at your company, shows your mission statement or a few photos, highlights a selection of employee benefits, and lists the open opportunities at your organization. Individual job listings probably link to a description of the roles and responsibilities required.

Can you spot the inherent flaw in this model? It structures your company careers page in a way that implies that all candidates are interested in the same benefits. But if you’ve ever recruited talent for different roles simultaneously, you’ve probably already figured out that your “closing pitch” when hiring a sales rep is completely different from the one you use on developers. So this begs the question: Who’s really interested in that generic portrayal of life at your company, anyway? Is there a better way to position your organization so you attract different types of candidates with distinct selling points?

The answer lies within talent segmentation – differentiating your recruitment strategy based on distinct candidate groups. Depending on your company’s hiring needs, you can segment your candidate pool in many ways: by experience level (How might the interests and needs of recent college grads compare to senior-level management?), by role (What do engineers want to see in your job opportunities and how does this compare to the interests of sales/marketing candidates?), by location (How might the candidates you recruit for your London office differ from those you recruit for your San Francisco hub?), or even by background (If you’re looking for candidates who have worked in consulting, where might you look compared with recruiting candidates who have worked for the government?).

If you’re starting to think that this sounds a lot like traditional marketing, you’re right. But we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Recruiting is marketing. Given the inherent transparency of having corporate brands take over social media, make headlines on news feeds, and weave into all of our online networks, candidates are doing more than ever to discover new companies and new opportunities based on the criteria that are important to them. If you don’t know what’s important to your target candidates, how can you possibly position your company in a way that’s attractive to them? Talent segmentation will help you avoid the rut of “always scrambling” for talent. Rather than reactively recruit roles based on headcount needs, you can take a proactive approach to recruitment and curate a continuous candidate pipeline.

Not sure how to start? Here’s our checklist of how you and your team can jumpstart your company on the path to talent segmentation.

Ask around.

Start with the folks who might have a little experience in segmentation – your current marketing team. If they’ve conducted any type of customer or user segmentation, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction and help you identify candidate groups that may be important to your organization.

Look at the data.

Now, this may sound a little intimidating, but you don’t need to be a data scientist to start forming some general observations and hypotheses. Take a big-picture look at any new hire data you’ve collected for the past year, then combine this with your upcoming headcount needs. Write down any trends you notice. Are you hiring an even distribution of role types across the organization or has your hiring been skewed toward particular areas? Does one group within your organization seem to have a higher rate of employee referrals than another group? Have you had better luck recruiting entry-level programmers on the West Coast compared to the East Coast? If so, why might that be the case? How can you create a scalable recruitment strategy to maximize that effect?

Start with one set of criteria.

Once you start noticing trends, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and attempt to differentiate your candidates on multiple levels at once. But stay focused. Pick one key variable to start, whether it’s role type, geography, or something else. You’ll likely end up with 4-6 “candidate groups” within the segment you’ve identify. If, for instance, you segment on role type, your candidate groups may look like this:

  • Business/operations
  • Community/customer support
  • Design
  • Engineers/tech
  • Sales/marketing
  • Other (yup, it’s okay to have a “miscellaneous” category for one-off roles that don’t fit any given type)

Over time, you can continue to refine your candidate groups with added levels of detail.

Test your theory.

A good litmus test of your initial segmentation is to make sure that most of your current employees fit into one of your newly defined “candidate groups.” Keep in mind that not everyone will be a perfect fit – just like marketing personas, candidate groups can be “aggregate personalities” of your candidates. It’s natural to have a few outliers, but if you’ve found a group of employees that don’t seem to fit any of your categories, you may need to redefine those candidate groups or add an additional category.

Talk to your current employees.

After identifying your initial candidate groups, don’t jump the gun on defining strategies until you take advantage of the best asset you have: your current employees. Ask employees within each candidate group some key questions that will help you to define a recruitment strategy. Things like, “How did you hear about this job/company?” and “What was it that eventually convinced you that this was the right company for you?” will help you to define different strategies for each group.

Just like in market segmentation, true talent segmentation involves quite a bit of research, strategy, and testing. But once you’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting and initial research, the fun begins. Then you can start to brainstorm recruitment strategies that may work for each candidate group and test their effectiveness. Over time, you’ll not only establish a clearer sense of your organization’s recruitment priorities, but you’ll start to turn this art of recruitment into a science.

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