How to Develop Personas to Better Your Employer Brand/Marketing Efforts

by Tom Borgerding

Employers have an uphill battle—positioning your company as the best place to work for your target candidates when there are so many high quality companies available.

Each year, we learn about generational expectations as noted in this previous blog. With information about the differences between Gen Z and Millennials, plus the different candidate characteristics of the positions you fill, it can be challenging for employers to understand how to stand out in the crowd.

The following is an overview of the process we use at Campus Media Group to help employers get “on point” with their target candidates. This process will point you in the right direction. It won’t fit 100 percent of your candidates, but your messaging and targeting will be much better with these questions asked. Use these as your rule of thumb (80 percent of your best candidates) when thinking about what to present in information sessions, at career fairs, during student group presentations, in interviews, on your careers website, etc. The customization will take you a long way toward your end game…hiring the best candidates for your company.

Answer each of these questions for each type of position you are looking to fill. You don’t need to do this for every position, but the key categories are great starting points. For example, as you think through these questions, ask yourself or your team how this candidate type (aka “persona”) would be best described. For example, a customer service rep (CSR) will have a very different persona than a programmer. A CSR might typically be an extrovert, socially motivated and leadership motivated. The programmer is more likely to be introverted, wants access to the latest technology, and likes high detail while geting into the code. These two candidates will want to hear different messages when they visit your website or speak with a recruiter. Let’s look at the questions with the example of a CSR.

Create a Persona

Start with a name and picture

Example: Name—Customer Service Rep Rachel. Add a picture to help everyone on the hiring team visualize the persona.

Build the persona’s demographic information:

Example: 22-25 years old, a graduate from a large public institution; middle-class family; first in family to graduate from college; socially responsible; has 1,000+ friends on social media

What does a-day-in-the-life of this person look like?

Example: Two to three classes each day, sorority or fraternity meeting, lunch and dinner with friends, workout at the gym with a best friend, group study in library for a class project, and bed by midnight. Make a few assumptions: This person Snapchats with friends throughout the day, catches up on friends’ stories, texts location of meetings, and watches videos on Youtube of celeb news.

What are their pain points? What do you help them solve?

Example: Pain points—nervous a “real job” will limit their social lives and ability to connect with people; potential for upward mobility in the company; and work will not be as fun as college. Solutions—are mentors available? Are there new-hire social group options? Can you share stories of the impact other CSRs have had on clients and CSR team?

What does this person value most? What are his/her goals?

Example: Values—social relationships, being busy, and impact on others’ lives. Goals— making an impact, being with friends, knowing that he/she is leaving the world a better place each day.

Where does this person go for information?

Example: Friends, classmates, professors, sorority sisters, student groups, Youtube, social media, Google searches, and parents.

What experiences will this person look for in your company?

Example: Company stability, career path, peer connection opportunities, company sponsored social and professional clubs, impact on clients/team.

What are their most common drawbacks to your company?

Example: He/she doesn’t hear much about the culture of the company and thinks he/she she could get bored or feel alone within a large company. She won’t have any friends there. She’d have to move away from her friends to join the company.

Answers to these questions may be different for other positions.

Give it a try. See how it helps you define the characteristics of the best candidates and the message/branding/recruiting efforts you will use to reach them. It’ll help your recruiting messaging find greater success  by developing and using these persona questions.

I’d be happy to discuss what personas can look like for you and how you can take advantage of them to have greater recruitment success.

Look for part 3 of Tom Borgerding’s blog seires for recruiters, Using Snapchat and Social Media to Connect With Students, on Tuesday, August 8.

Tom BorgerdingTom Borgerding, President/CEO, Campus Media Group, Inc.
Twitter: @mytasca, @Campus_Media

Gen Z Characteristics – What They Really Look Like

by Tom Borgerding

There’s been a lot of talk regarding what Generation Z looks like. In the research we’ve done, speakers we’ve heard, and articles we’ve read, here’s a recap of the most consistent characteristics to be thinking about when recruiting and marketing to Gen Z.

  1. They are Entrepreneurial. They want to have an impact, not just a job. Show them how they can be entrepreneurial in your organization and the impact others have been able to make by following a similar path. They are looking for guidance and a way to make the world a better place.
  2. They are Technology Dependent. Let them get check in with your recruiters, know where they are really at in the application funnel, watch videos on what it’s like to work at your company, and follow you on social media. Also, make it available through their smartphones.
  3. They are Culturally Diverse. The United States is becoming more diverse each year. Gen Z expects the way their friends, family, co-workers, and the world in general to be diverse. This means that your hiring should not consistent of people that look only like you. Highlight and integrate diversity into your website, brochures, presentations, and recruitment staff.
  4. They are Cynical. Overly pushy, offensive, insensitivity in marketing, advertising, slogans, messages, stories, etc. have made them more skeptical and cynical of what they hear and see. Make sure your company is “real,” relatable, and not only showing the good side of working at your company. Additionally, you could expand into “what it’s like to be adulting” at your company.
  5. They are Hyper-Aware. They can “smell” anything that isn’t real and true a mile away. They are sensitive to all the messaging going on around them and if it seems like it could be advertising something that’s too good to be true, they likely won’t respond. An opportunity here is to be very consistent and clear with your brand messaging. Also, get to the point in your branding/recruiting efforts.
  6. They are Private. They expect employers to be completely transparent about all things business, which is why they like websites like At the same time they want to keep their lives private, even from their parents in many cases, by using apps like Snapchat that allow their stories to disappear. They’ve seen and heard too many stories about how a pictures, posts, or conversations have ruined someone.
  7. They are Safety Minded. When was the last time you saw someone in college or below riding a bike without a helmet or in a car without a safety belt? This has engrained them to know this world has risks attached to it. As an employer, it is important to be thinking about how the risk of working at your company can be minimized to help them success and transition into the “real” world well.
  8. They are Multitaskers. They watch Netflix, study, hang out with friends, and text at the same time while thinking it’s natural to do so. They will want to have plenty of work, while being able to immediately communicate with their boss, team, CEO, etc., and expect immediacy for replies and conversations.

What do you do with with this information now? Integrate these eight characteristics into your brand strategy and highlight relevant company characteristics. Make sure what you are saying is true. Highlight, talk about, and engage students in conversations regarding these topics. They want to see that your company will provide them a place for them to excel and that your company isn’t their grandfather or parent’s job.

If you have more questions about these characteristics, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss them with you.

This is the first of five blogs Tom Borgerding has written about marketing and hiring. The next, How to Develop Personas to Better Your Employer Brand/Marketing Efforts, will be published Thursday, August 3.

Tom BorgerdingTom Borgerding, President/CEO, Campus Media Group, Inc.
Twitter: @mytasca, @Campus_Media

Fewer Trophies, More Responsibility: How Gen Z Will Change Universities and the Workplace

by Lindsey Pollak

Just when we finally feel as though we have a handle on what millennials want in the workplace, along comes Generation Z (those born around the turn of the millennium and later) with its fresh perspective. To follow up on my presentation at NACE in June, I wanted to share some insights that will help savvy career centers and employers adapt as this generation heads toward your offices.

Gen Z Is Entrepreneurial

There is a persistent myth about “entrepreneurial millennials.” The fact is that millennials as a group are not all that entrepreneurial, but their younger siblings are: While 43 percent of college students (i.e., millennials) say they want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee, 61 percent of high-school students (i.e., Gen Zers) say the same. More than half of Gen Zers say they were encouraged by their parents to seek early employment, and many responded by starting their own companies. They sell crafts on Etsy, build websites for small businesses and rake in cash for clever YouTube videos.

Key Takeaway

In order to attract and retain Gen Z employees, companies need to be cognizant of the need to feed this spirit by offering frequent rotational assignments and early leadership experiences. Universities will need to offer entrepreneurial training along with coaching for entrepreneurial career paths.

Gen Z Is Resourceful

These digital natives have grown up with the ability to answer their own questions — fast. They’ve always had a smartphone in their pocket, so they don’t sit around wondering what time spin class is or what’s trending on Instagram; they just look it up. They are also a generation that hasn’t experienced widespread “helicopter” parenting, since their Gen X parents have a different parenting philosophy than many millennials’ baby boomer parents. According to research, Generation Z places heavy emphasis on being “mature and in control.”

Key Takeaway

Employers need to expect that Gen Z employees might take assignments into their own hands, without waiting for explicit directions. On the one hand, these self-starters may inject a new energy into the workplace; on the other, you might have to make sure there are safeguards in place so they stay on track when needed. For example, make sure they are clear on communication protocols so they don’t just fire off questions to clients if you’d prefer they check with you first.

Gen Z Is Visual

The fewer words the better for the emoticon and Snapchat generation. This cohort responds to images rather than text—think Instagram versus Twitter—and is most at home juggling multiple screens.

Key Takeaway

Recycle your existing employee manuals, recruitment brochures and training materials. If a picture used to be worth 1,000 words, with Generation Z it’s worth ALL the words. This generation expects to absorb your message visually and instantly, and in a wide variety of mediums. (Note: This doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t read books or longer form content; but more visual messages are best when you want to catch their attention.)

Gen Z Is Financially Cautious

Gen Z grew up in the painful aftermath of 9/11 and the financial crisis. Since this group didn’t experience the boom years of peace and prosperity that the millennials did, they have a more similar worldview to Gen X, who came of age during the uncertainty and change of the recessionary 1970s and Cold War 1980s. They are more apt to avoid school debt and be avid savers.

Key Takeaway

Show them the money. Gen Z will be more focused on value vs. cost and perhaps less on passion over profit. Companies will need to offer solid compensation packages and universities will have to justify the cost of high tuition.

Gen Z Fully Embraces Diversity

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2020, more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group, making Gen Z the first majority non-white generation in American history. But diversity involves much more than race. Gen Z is the first cohort to come of age with same-sex marriage as the law of the land, with our first African-American president and with gender identity as a common conversation.

Key Takeaway

Most members of Gen Z expect diversity. As a group, they tend to have an inclusive perspective about gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. I have high hopes that this more open-minded view of the world means they will be better able to relate to their colleagues, customers, and clients than any generation in the past. Universities and workplaces will have to continue their path of creating more inclusive communities and policies.

Of course, since many in the Gen Z age group are still in their formative years, it’s hard to know exactly how they will evolve. But the more I have learned about general traits held by Gen Z, the more I am encouraged about the spirit and drive they will bring to the workplace.

Lindsey pollak

Lindsey Pollak is a nationally recognized keynote speaker on the subject of millennials in the workplace and the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.