Every once in a while in this business you will look at some candidate data, and be surprised by what you see.  A colleague of mine, Scott Axel (a diehard Buckeye fan), conducted a survey on LinkedIn asking people their preferred method of unsolicited contact by a recruiter.  When I looked at the final results of this survey I was surprised to see that e-mail (InMail, and e-mail) was the preferred method of contact.  I had always been trained to think a phone call is the best method of contact for the candidate.  I still do see a lot of value in smiling and dialing, but I think sometimes it may be good to contact candidates in a way where they will be more receptive to your unsolicited contact.

Now to share some of the data:

145 total votes:

  • 46%      (66 votes): LinkedIn Inmail
  • 38%      (55 votes): Person Email
  • 8%      (12 votes): Direct Phone Call
  • 6%      (8 votes): Work Email
  • 3%      (4 votes): Other Social Media (Twitter, Meetup etc)


A few initial thoughts on this data:

  • I would be very interested to see what the data would show in a much larger pool of candidates.  Would you still have an overwhelming population of candidates preferring 1.) InMail 2.) E-Mail?
  • I believe once more candidates and recruiters start connecting on Social Media, you will see this method become more and more popular.
  • Even though e-mail is the preferred method, is it the most effective?
  • With the good mix of seniority levels and age, I feel even with the smaller pool it is pretty accurate in how a larger population would answer.
  • 18 out of the 19 females who responded to the survey answered with either InMail or Direct E-mail. 

The recruiting industry has changed a ton since I began recruiting in 2006, and I know it will continue to evolve as the years come and go.  One constant in our profession is the need to establish relationships, and provide a service not only to our clients but also the candidates we work with.  In order to do this, we need to accept change and utilize new methods/tools in recruiting to find and secure the best talent. Mobile devices have become a computer in the palm of our hand, and it has never been easier to access personal e-mail.  Candidates, who are employed, may have an easier time responding to an e-mail rather than interrupting their day with a phone call. 

I am not suggesting e-mail is the best method of contact, but that utilizing multiple methods of contact is a good practice to get into.  Why not leave a message, follow it up with an e-mail, and maybe even throw in a LinkedIn connection request?  You need to make yourself noticed by the top candidates, and you never know what method will work best for each individual.


Views: 332

Comment by Noel Cocca on January 5, 2013 at 12:17pm

Nice data Ryan.  Thanks for this great post.  I started recruiting in 1996 and believe me that was another whole industry.  My assignment was to speak to the physicians in Connecticut.  All of them.....  Smiling and dialing has changed, I think for the better, but your last line hits the nail...you really need to use all the tools available.  

Comment by Amy McDonald on January 7, 2013 at 12:19pm

Times, they are a changing, that is for sure. One thing that we've heard is even more popular with the millennial group than email is texting. Very interesting stuff. I think think you are 100% correct on using all the tools available. Flexibility with these tools is going to be a key skill for any recruiter to master in 2013 and beyond.

Amy McDonald


Comment by Will Thomson on January 7, 2013 at 5:08pm

Ryan this was a great post.  It has a lot of good data.  I too would like to see a larger pool of people interviewed.  It should be interesting.  I know most people prefer inmail and e-mail.  Like Noel, I started recruiting in 95 and you had to yell to hear yourself over the other recruiter.  Everyone called people.  Now, in a recruiting environment, you could hear a pin drop.  Almost all recruiting & sourcing is over the computer with research and sending inmails and e-mails.  Still, with all of this- I know people prefer to be contacted one way, but the one sure fire way to get in touch with them is over the phone.  You may catch them off guard, but if you are headhunting and they are truly passive candidates, that is the best way to get them from avoiding you.  Thanks again.  Great data!

Comment by Tiffany Branch on January 8, 2013 at 9:52am

I'm not shcoked that email is preferred. I prefer to be contacted via email and I'm a Gen-Xer. Email allows me not to be "caught of guard" and I can digest what the sender is saying and prepare my response. We can always set up a time to chat via phone after the intial contact is made via email. Also, if I don't recognize a number, I don't pick up the phone. I know many folks who are like me in that regard.


As a corporate recruiter, the same thing goes when agencies are trying to reach me to do business. The unsolicited call is usually an unwelcomed call. Reach out via email, then we can set up time to chat.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 8, 2013 at 11:52am
I hate getting cold calls so I assume everybody else does too. Before computers, I used snail mail and always found it generally more well received. I use email or in mails and very seldom cold call someone I don't know. That being said, when I get an email that announces someone will be calling me, I find it intrusive. If I want to be called I will respond to the email with best time and number to reach me. If I don't respond I won't take the call. If I respond to an email with thanks but no thanks and I get a call anyway, the caller is off the Christmas card list. I wouldn't buy a ticket if you had the last one on the last train from gun hill and were selling it at a discount.

Cold calls from recruiters are in my opinion the number one thing that has given our industry an irritating image. You may get one out of a hundred but don't forget you may have pissed off 99.
Comment by Ryan Harding on January 8, 2013 at 11:58am

To play devil's advocate...What about the candidates who put a phone number on a resume?  If they did not want to be called, they should have left the number off the resume.  They may have wanted to be called when they were actively looking for a job, but they should be proactive in thinking ahead on what happens with their number after they put it out to recruiters.


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