Messaging “Passive” Candidates

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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. (Inmails and 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 from my readers?