Recruiters and Sourcers:

Do your potential candidates reply to your introductory messages? I’d like to share our experience on what works and what doesn’t.

  • It seems to us that email as a way to initially reach “passive candidates” is quickly dying, if not dead already. In rare cases – and only when when it’s personalized – do we get replies.
  • The phone works, of course! But I’d recommend calling only close-to-perfect candidates as the initial contact.
  • As I predicted back in September of 2009 “social” messaging has become the most productive way to reach “passive” candidates.

I love LinkedIn for providing us with InMails and messages. We get replies to them 10x more often than with “plain” emailing. (Inmailsand messages are ways to reach others on LinkedIn, that are very similar, with only one difference.)

When I source, quite often I would find a potential candidate elsewhere – on a forum, on a blog, etc. – and message on LinkedIn. (Why not just search on LinkedIn, you ask? That’s a different subject that is quite interesting.)

There are other platforms work well for messaging.

Here are a few tips on writing messages, based on our experience, that create good response rate. The number one, obvious, tip is to only send messages to qualified people.

We use three approaches to messaging, with variations.

  • Ask for help finding the right person for a hard-to-fill position (include the position title, location, a very short description)
  • Ask for a good time and a number to call to discuss an opportunity ((include an even shorter description)
  • Provide a link to a job description and make a statement that the person is an excellent match; ask to confirm.

In all cases our messages are very brief, they have either no links or just one link to one of our jobs. Messages do contain enough info to reach us months later if the person felt like.

We usually try to check back again in a week or so and often get replies on the second try.

Any other suggestions?

Views: 1457

Comment by Elise Reynolds on February 24, 2012 at 2:15pm

I appreciate this article!

I love Linkedin too.  I have very spotty luck in going the route of sending a message through mutual connections.  It rarely works in fact for me.  I find that it make people nervous to forward messages and so they don't want to do it.

Inmails are great and I get a response on at least 9 out of 10 Inmails that I send.  But I try to keep that number low because they are expensive.  Phone works - sort of.  Messages through a group are only OK. 

I like your idea of asking for help in networking.  I try to do that too but I suspect I can use a few new tricks in that department.  Can you share some of the wording you use when you are trying to motivate someone through messaging  to help you network?


Comment by Irina Shamaeva on February 24, 2012 at 2:34pm


Thanks for your comment! By messaging I meant direct messaging, which is available if the person is either a fist level connection or shares a group with you. I never send messages through mutual connections; it's just unreliable.

When I ask for help, it is always about filling a "hard-to-fill" job req. Do they know someone? Or, would they know where to look?

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 24, 2012 at 5:05pm

I find that sending inmails to people in a certain discipline who list that they are an officer or involved in a professional organization has been very effective.  The person who is the past president of one organization has referred people to me who are not on linked in and won't ever be.  I always send him a note when i have a new listing.  He refers people to me when they first start looking because he is one of the first people they contact when they are thinking about looking. 

Comment by Noel Cocca on February 26, 2012 at 12:06pm

Great post...I also find that when I go to Linkedin for an inmail or group contact I get very good referrals too.  I use a group I run for healthcare related brings jobs and candidates as well as some splits....I think that social media is built for this kind of quick surface referral that we can then take forward. 


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