A journey through the applicants needs

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Marketeers would write this blog post focusing on their clients. In my role as employer branding specialist, my clients are my applicants. The department leads want to hire the best people in the shortest period possible. They should bring all capabilities we need before they start to work and ideally fit to our culture. In the perfect world this would happen in a recruiting process which the HR Manager has defined with their sparring partners.

But do we know how our applicants want to get their new job? Which steps are they willing to take for their future employer? And how does their commitment look like? The better a recruiter understands their applicants, the better he can interact with them and join them in the job jungle. Knowing your target group is not just in Marketing essential, it will facilitate the HRs life as well.


First step in developing an applicant’s journeys is to take the view of the applicant. It starts from the very first moment when the person gets to know the company, leads to the job posting and ends in the first day at work. This process can be displayed in a so called customer journey map.

Research and collecting data

In the beginning you have to do a lot of research and collect data from your target group. You have to search for the needs and behaviors of your applicants and what they are looking for in their future employer. Some of these data might be available in the company already, others have to be gained. Internal data can be received from web analytics, social media monitoring or e-mail statistics. Benchmark reports, external surveys or generation reports deliver you with external data and help you to specify your target group.

Create personas

Personas are fictive persons who represent the target group of a company. They get typical characteristics to help HR getting more into them and create empathy. The most important items of a persona are

  • the demographic characteristics like age, place of living or income
  • job and level of career
  • pain points: which challenges or problems has the persona to face?
  • Values and goals: what is important for the persona? Which goals is she aiming to?
  • Information: Where does the persona get her information? Online or offline? Social Media?
  • Fears: Which fears does the persona have and what could stop her from applying?

Find more about creating personas and a detailed questionnaire in the Hubspot blog.

List all touchpoints and channels

In the next steps, all possible touchpoints where an applicant can get in contact with the employer should be listed. This list starts from the very first contact and ends at the first day of the new hire or even after the probation month. It is important to think of online and offline touchpoints equally. It helps to go through these touchpoints with colleagues from different departments to get a broader view. This step often leads to new inspirations but cutting offs as well.

young people with Smartphones
Generation Z

Act as your persona

After listing all touchpoints, you need to get into your personas and act like them. Go through all your touchpoints and reflect what every persona could feel and experience. These feelings are important to visualize possible problems at a touchpoint. Does the persona get all information needed at this point? Is there any contact person to get in touch?

Marketing would use the sales funnel model to get a deeper insight. These phases can be used for the candidate journey as well.

  • Awareness phase: The persona just focuses on their own problems and does not recognize offers to solve them by a company.
  • Consideration phase: The persona is now open for possible solutions for her problem. It does not matter who the company is, just the solution is important.
  • Decision phase: The persona has decided what she is looking for and is now checking potential companies which can fulfill her wishes. In HR this could mean, a persona decided to work as a web front software developer in Android and is now looking for an employer who offers such a position.

Visualize the candidate journey

After analyzing all received data it is time to visualize it. You can do it on a Flipchart, Whiteboard, with a software or simple a piece of paper. There are no rules. To get an idea of who it could look like watch the video of Megan Grocki from UX Mastery:

Creating a candidate journey map helps HR to make their processes more efficient. It also helps to visualize where and how they get in touch with future employees. Generation Z is already entering the job market and HR needs to be aware of changing needs in their job search. Getting well qualified employees and keep them is key in being competitive in the market.


Pictures from

Silvia Spruegl

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