Messaging “Passive” Candidates

booleanstringsBoolean 2 Comments

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?

Comments 2

  1. In today’s world of 140 characters…we need to be concise and crisp in candidate communication. With most ppl communicating on handheld devices we cannot have long verbose eMails.

  2. Dont rely too much on your message via LinkedIn getting through to the candidate your requesting information from, they sometimes dont even pick up their messages or dont care to reply via the network – Ive had people reply back 9 months after! My rule of thumb is this: if they don’t get back to you within 48hours (if these people are top notch they have other headhunters calling them all the time) call their office and ask for a time to connect after hours, meet for coffee etc.. – if your a great headhunter you know the method of how to be courteous when doing so. happy “passive” headhunting!

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