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10 Simple Steps to Writing a Powerful Candidate Profile

10 Simple Steps to Writing a Powerful Candidate Profile

If your client decides not to proceed with one or any of the candidates you present as part of your shortlist, 9 times out of 10, the reason they will give you is that “they didn’t quite meet the brief”.

However, often it’s not that “they” didn’t quite meet the brief at all. In fact sometimes your client may not have even looked at the candidates’ CV.

Believe it or not your client will frequently make a ‘first round’ judgment call based solely on the information included in your candidate profile, recruiter’s summary, or consultant overview.

So if your candidate profile doesn’t truly ‘sell’ your candidate in terms of his or her strengths, relevant attributes and suitability for the role in question, your client may well move straight on.

Opportunity lost.

Next!

A well-crafted candidate profile will be engaging, snappy, and highlight exactly why you have chosen to include the candidate as part of your shortlist.

Rest assured there’s no need for a Lord of the Rings trilogy. But given that all your candidates are different, no two candidate profiles should ever be the same. Here’s what you should always include:

Free PDF: Download this post as a PDF and start crafting candidate profiles that are engaging, snappy, and highlight exactly why you have put a candidate on your shortlist. Download Now!

1. Your overall impression from the candidate interview

What made this particular candidate stand out?

How did they present themselves? How did they communicate? Why exactly are you putting them forward for the role?

Antony came across as an extremely competent and professional candidate with a wealth of experience in B2B sales. He was well presented and was able to articulate his career highlights succinctly during his interview. He is clearly passionate about sales and also has a great sense of humour, which when combined with his high level of commercial acumen has no doubt contributed to his successes to date.

2. Suitability to key selection criteria

Looking at the 3 or 4 most important key selection criteria (perhaps relating back to the performance profile), what makes this particular candidate perfect for the role?

Antony is clearly comfortable cold calling as well as sitting opposite key decision makers. In his current role he has also been instrumental in writing and winning tenders. Based on his responses during our discussion, he runs a very effective consultative sales process.

3. Career highlights and achievements

Based on the career achievements your candidate would have talked about during the interview, if there are any specific highlights which would resonate with your client, include them here.

We discussed his key career achievements and he listed these as being his top three:

  1. Winning the ABC account after persisting and chipping away at them for nearly 10 months. Antony wrote the tender document and ultimately led the winning sales presentation;
  2. Being recognised as Sales Person of the Quarter for the last three consecutive quarters; and
  3. Being asked to write and run the sales training curriculum for all new sales executives.

4. Relevant skills and/or qualifications 

Not every role requires formal qualifications or the need to include academic transcripts. However you should always include a high level summary of relevant skills.

Antony has spent the last 8 years in sales, both at the coalface and more recently also leading a sales team of 3.

5. Referee feedback 

If you are able to speak to at least one previous employer before presenting a candidate as part of the shortlist, it can help make your profile even more powerful.

That way, your thoughts and comments are reinforced by those made by someone who has actually managed the candidate in the past.

He is still employed in his current role, but I have been able to speak to one of his referees who had been sorry to lose Antony from his team 3 years ago. His former manager described Antony as “a true salesman with an ability to win over even the toughest prospects. He’s hungry, tenacious, and super driven … and will easily surpass his targets without even a hint of arrogance”.

6. Salary expectations

It’s best to put this information on the table from the outset. That way you won’t be wasting anybody’s time.

Not yours; not your client’s; and not your candidate’s.

Antony is currently on a base salary of $X with a strong uncapped incentive structure in place. In the last financial year he earned $XX and would expect to at least match this in his next role. He is also currently given a car allowance.

7. Availability

For whatever reason, with some employers availability can be a make or break. So as with salary, it’s best to be clear and address it up front.

Antony is due to be paid a decent quarterly bonus in mid-July. His preference is naturally to wait for this commission before resigning. He is then only required to give 2 weeks’ notice so would be available to start from August 1st.

8. General recommendation

Hopefully this is pretty self-explanatory.

Something along the lines of … Out of all the candidates I screened and interviewed as part of my selection process, Antony is by far the strongest and most suitable for the role. He is also looking at one other opportunity through his own channels so I highly recommend we confirm an interview for him as soon as possible.

9. Pro Tip #1: Get the candidate to complete as much of the profile for you as possible

Naturally the overall impression and general recommendation needs to be written and tailored by you, as well as any referee feedback you’re able to obtain.

However if you’ve interviewed a great candidate and they are genuinely keen on the role, there’s no reason why you can’t give them ‘homework’ to complete some of the other sections themselves. Just ask them to write it in the third person to make your job even easier!

10. Pro Tip #2: Sometimes you might just want to pick up the phone

Whilst I wrote this post to help you write more engaging candidate profiles, often the best way to ensure you get your candidate in front of your client is to call your client and sell the rockstar candidate in over the phone.

In addition to the words you might choose to include in a written profile, remember that the enthusiasm and conviction in your voice can be incredibly powerful too.

Who knows … you might not even need to write a profile at all!

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for 20 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.