Hiring process

Create a complete candidate profile in 5 simple steps

Brush up on the two types of candidate profiles and what they include. Plus, get 5 simple steps for how to build candidate profiles for your hiring process.

Create a complete candidate profile in 5 simple steps
Listen to this article. Audio recording by
Alessia Musso

A well-crafted candidate profile can act as a compass in the hiring process. As you gather and organize candidate information, it helps your team to stay on the right path and make clear and informed hiring decisions.

In this article, we'll show you how to draft an informative candidate profile that you can easily fold into your hiring process. By the time you've finished reading, you'll be well-prepared to tackle the big decision of who to welcome aboard your team. 🌟

But first — what is a candidate profile?

You can have two types of candidate profiles in your hiring and recruitment process. These are:

  1. the candidate profile you create before you even kick off the interview process
  2. the candidate profile that lives in your applicant tracking system (ATS)

Let’s dig into what each version of these candidate profiles means and entails.

1. The candidate profile a.k.a. the candidate brief (pre-hiring)

A candidate profile is typically created at the very beginning of your hiring process, as part of your work drafting the job brief and job description.

You can think of this candidate profile more as a candidate brief: it helps you map out the skills and experience your ideal candidate might have. Loosely speaking, it acts as your candidate North Star. (The job description you end up publishing online, on the other hand, is more centered around the role itself.)

In a candidate profile, you should include a list of the traits, skills and experience that’ll make the candidate successful in the role. You can include both essential skills and nice-to-haves here. Ultimately, your candidate profile lives within your job brief but you can also include a summary of it in the job post itself.

There are a few benefits to creating a candidate profile. It’ll help you and your hiring team to:

  • Organize the hiring process: By creating a list of the top qualities you need in a candidate before you even share the job post, you’ll get a better idea of who you need, making the candidate review process much more straightforward.
  • Reduce unconscious bias in hiring: Setting clear standards of what traits, skills and qualifications you're looking for can help you evaluate and assess each candidate more fairly. Learn more about how to mitigate hiring biases.

<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">🔥 Pro Tip: We believe a candidate profile should be used only as a guide when hiring — not as a must-have, definitive list. Candidate selection requires flexibility and open-mindedness to help you find the right person for your team. It can also help you consider folks in your candidate pool that you may have otherwise overlooked. And, it’s also important to note that depending on what you’re most interested in learning about your candidates, the candidate profile varies from business to business.<br></p></div>

2. The candidate profile in your ATS (during hiring)

The other candidate profile you can have in your hiring process is the candidate profile you’ll find in an ATS or hiring tool. When candidates apply to your open roles, your ATS (if you use one!) will organize and capture their information to help you better sort through and manage your candidate pool.

If you use an applicant tracking system for your small business, it will store information like their name, email, CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, portfolio links and more.

What you keep in a candidate profile in an ATS is up to you, but don’t forget — you still have to stay GDPR compliant when recruiting.

📣 A list of recruiting software for small businesses

What does an ATS candidate profile look like?

A candidate profile in an ATS can include all sorts of information but it should stick to the basics, so you can focus on the information you really need to hire your next team member.

Here’s an example of a candidate profile in Homerun’s hiring software:

What a candidate profile looks like in Homerun

With Homerun's candidate profile, you can enrich your candidate data to make the candidate profile as complete as possible. This gives you and your hiring team a more holistic view of each candidate in your pipeline.

Within the candidate profile you can see and keep track of how your candidates applied to your job (were they sourced, referred or did they apply via LinkedIn?) and store team notes throughout the hiring process.

These notes could be anything from a brief pros and cons list for your applicant’s candidacy, interview questions you can follow up on for next time and anything else that might be relevant (like if they are in the right location or if they have to give a particularly long notice period when resigning from their current role).

5 steps for creating a pre-hiring candidate profile

Before embarking on the hiring journey, a hiring manager should set up a candidate profile (or a candidate brief) that serves as a guide throughout the recruitment process. This proactive approach not only simplifies candidate evaluations but also provides the hiring team with a clear vision of an ideal candidate.

Here are the key steps a hiring manager should take when crafting a pre-hiring candidate profile.

1. Define the role and what gaps you truly need to fill

Before you even start writing the job post, creating your job application form and updating your careers page, you need to think critically about the role you’re hiring for. Start by visualizing the gaps that need to be filled on your team. This is an especially important step if you’re hiring your first-ever employee.

Ask yourself (and anyone else on your recruitment team who can contribute) a few questions. For example, if you’re looking to hire a Front-End Developer consider the duties a software engineer would be undertaking at your company.

Ask questions like, what needs to get done? What are you currently lacking on your engineering team? What do you need help with building the most and how could this new team member contribute to that?

🤔 What to consider:

  • Core job responsibilities and goals
  • Struggles and triumphs within your team

2. Outline ideal candidate traits

The first step of creating a candidate profile for your hiring process is to define the traits and qualifications of an ideal candidate for the role.

Collaborate closely with your hiring team and anyone else who needs to be involved in the decision-making process to understand what (and who) your team needs. Consider both the specific job requirements and the broader value fit within your company.

🤔 What to consider:

  • Necessary qualifications and certifications (we stress the word “necessary” here!)
  • Characteristics that might help your future hire succeed in the role
  • Essential skills and competencies (remember that many skills can be learned)
  • Desired experience level (keep an open mind with this — inexperienced folks may surprise you and can always learn new things!)
  • Alignment with your organization's core values

3. Establish your evaluation criteria

Now that you have some traits in mind for your ideal candidate, outline the specific criteria you’ll use to evaluate applicants. This includes the essential qualifications, skills and competencies that candidates should have to do the job.

A word of caution here: if you’re looking for a delivery driver, the ideal candidate will need a driver’s license. Try to think of this as must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. Clear evaluation criteria will help you simplify and streamline the screening process so you stay aligned with the candidate profile you’ve put together.

Use candidate scorecards to streamline evaluations, ensuring your candidate selection process is more fair, transparent and consistent. Scorecards let you create a set list of criteria to assess candidates so your entire team can rate and score interviews on the same benchmarks. This brings structure to the process and it combats gut-feeling recruitment.

🤔 How to set your evaluation criteria:

  • Prioritize qualifications based on their importance to the role
  • Identify the key skills required for success
  • Define any other attributes that contribute to value fit
  • Use scorecards to simplify and organize the process
Where to review candidates in Homerun's scorecards
With Homerun's scorecards, you can create and save criteria for candidate interview evaluations.

4. Share the candidate profile with your hiring team

Once the candidate profile has been drafted and the evaluation criteria are defined, share this document with the hiring team. Encourage your team members to give you feedback and insights to help you make sure the profile reflects your team’s needs in getting a new teammate on board.

🤔 Why sharing the candidate profile is important:

  • It promotes transparency and alignment within the hiring team
  • It brings in input from diverse perspectives
  • It means everyone is on the same page regarding candidate expectations

5. Stay open-minded and flexible

While the candidate profile serves as a guide, it's important to stay flexible and continue to be open-minded throughout the hiring process. Acknowledge that exceptional candidates may have qualities or experiences not explicitly mentioned in the profile. Be prepared to adapt and edit the profile as needed to accommodate any insights you’ve discovered about your candidate pool during the recruitment process.

🤔 Other things you can do to stay open-minded during candidate selection:

  • Recognize that exceptional candidates may exceed predefined expectations
  • Be willing to adjust the profile to consider unique talents and qualifications
  • Embrace the opportunity to discover candidates who bring unexpected strengths and perspectives to the team

Use these steps to create a candidate profile that acts as a guiding beacon when assessing job candidates. This approach not only streamlines the recruitment process but also means your hiring team is better prepared to identify the right match and (finally) make a job offer.

What is included in an ATS candidate profile?

A candidate profile in an ATS typically includes and stores the following content:

  • Contact information – The candidate's first and last name, email address, phone number (if relevant) and LinkedIn profile.
  • Portfolio – For roles that require a portfolio, such as creative designers or writers, links to the candidate's portfolio should be included (and you’ll find this especially handy during the interview process). In Homerun, you can include a website, LinkedIn and Github profile links.
  • Experience – You can include a brief outline of the candidate’s most recent work experience that would be most relevant to the job you’re hiring for. This can be copied and pasted from their CV, your rough summary or you can use the information they’ve written in their job application if relevant.
  • Education – As an optional field in your ATS, remember that not every job has specific or mandatory education requirements. If the job you are hiring for requires specific education, you can save this information in your candidate profile.
  • Relevant files – This may include a CV highlighting their work, experience, education and skills, and a cover letter if you've requested one. These are typically added to the job application form.
  • Assessments – Results from any assessments or tests the candidate has completed as part of the hiring process. Skills assessments are especially common when hiring a software engineer, for example.
  • Candidate origin – If you sourced the candidate on your own or if they applied directly through a job application form, you can store this type of information in your candidate profile.
  • Interview or team notes – Any notes taken during the candidate's interviews, including feedback from interviewers and any other notes you have taken on a candidate.
  • GDPR compliance Information confirming that you’re handling the candidate's data in compliance with GDPR.

Once a candidate applies, it's important to keep all this information in one organized place that everyone on the hiring team can access.

Finding your way with candidate profiles

From creating a candidate profile at the very beginning of your hiring process to organizing all the most important candidate information in your ATS, candidate profiles are very much worth the effort for hiring teams of all shapes and sizes. 🫶

These profiles help organize your hiring and simplify your decision-making process — they’re one piece of the puzzle in stomping out unconscious bias in hiring.

Review candidates with your team from one place

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About the author
Alessia is Homerun's resident Canuck and Content Writer based in London. She's been writing B2B content for small and medium-sized businesses for eight years and is passionate about helping people feel more confident (and happy!) in their jobs. When she’s not researching the ways growing teams can improve their hiring, she’s probably thinking about pasta, books, craft beer, and the importance of the Oxford comma.

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