Increasing Candidate’s Response Rates

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This is a guest post from Martin Lee.

We can be as creative as we like with our sourcing, writing killer Boolean strings, utilizing the latest tools and unearthing profiles that others wouldn’t, but without a response from prospective candidates we have only done 50% of what is required.

According to a number of sources the average user spends 17 minutes on LinkedIn.

When we reach out to prospects – it’s about them, not us. Too many recruiters’ (agency & internal) messages lead with a job they are trying to fill. Often this is based purely upon a keyword search and an assumption that the person is a fit and is actually interested in the position.

If our target candidates spend 17 minutes on LinkedIn and they receive a lot of similar looking messages what chance do you have of getting a response if you do the same as everyone else ?

The purpose of the first message is always to motivate the potential candidate to want to have a conversation. It should be casual, no commitment or resume required. Internal recruiters should have ongoing interesting vacancies and should lead with a “career discussion” approach. There could well be live vacancies that this person is suitable for but unless you know their personal situation and motivations & timings to move you can not make a match. Agency recruiters have it slightly tougher but if they’re credible and market specific they too should be able to convince someone to at least have a talk with them. A conversation focused on the candidate shifts the emphasis from a job we are trying to fill to talking about them, so more people will respond.

The first message is your chance to show you have read and understand their profile(s) and to cut through other recruiters’ messages. Using personalized messaging is key whether using their name, skills, current company (and technology used), location, projects, etc., are all indications that you are being specific about them. It’s better to send fewer more personalized messages than using obvious templates.

Asking for referrals or resumes at the first message is a definite no-no.

In addition to electronic messages many recruiters are being more creative these days. Personalized videos to specific people are being used successfully now. “Hangouts” where technical people can look around the offices, ask questions to other techies are popular.

Big corporations marketing can sometimes be seen as cheesy and fluffy. We remember an example of our friend Jim Stroud who promoted working at Microsoft Canada over 10 years ago by shooting a video only on his Iphone. That video still ranks highly on YouTube as he uploaded it from multiple sources.

Check out our online class thoroughly covering the topic Improving Candidate Response Rates, and supplied with one month of support.

Comments 3

  1. I work internal and it would be great to find out other ways to increase response rate and engagement at an early stage, that will lead to follow up conversations.

  2. Thanks for this Martin – very useful. Trinity Scott (who I mainly work for) definitely have this approach: we are completely candidate-centric. Obviously if someone fits one of our mandates that’s great, but it’s not the initial reason that we speak to them.

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