4 Quick Ways to Improve Your InMail Response Rates

February 4, 2014

In the past we have seen too many recruiters settle for the same old InMail habits –impersonal language, flat subject lines, “copy-and-paste” job descriptions, and so on. An approach like this often does not compel or entice the InMail recipient, and often fails to get you that precious reply – especially from the most sought-after talent.

Luckily you landed on this blog, and you are going to turn this year into the year you master InMails. Follow these four steps and you’ll be on your way to assembling top talent pools and building more meaningful relationships:

1. Know and understand your audience

As recruiters we all need to be thoughtful about the way we approach a prospective candidate on LinkedIn. Before you send out any messages, make sure you have a crystal clear idea of who your prospect is.

In each of the vertical markets we recruit in—whether it’s technology, finance, healthcare or manufacturing - we talk to hundreds of candidates each month. We stockpile information specific to their fields — particular personality traits, their tendencies, the types of knowledge and things they gravitate towards. If we couple that intelligence with the information from a prospect’s LinkedIn profile, we can piece together a very powerful picture of what’s important to your InMail recipient.

Check out their experience and education; who is giving them recommendations; who have they recommended; what Groups do they belong to; do you share any mutual connections? Then, ask yourself, “What InMail opening message is going to resonate with this person?”

2. Use brief, personalized subject lines

You want your recipients to pay attention to your InMail, especially when they are on the go. Often times, the subject line is the difference between compelling someone to open and read your message, rather than relegate it to the spam folder. Too many recruiters settle for subject lines listing the job title, or generic job-related language (i.e. “Career Opportunity,” or “Immediate Opening”).  Because LinkedIn’s membership is comprised mostly (roughly 75-80%) of passive candidates, a subject line detailing or announcing a job opening often falls flat.

Instead, use what you’ve learned about the people in the areas you recruit in to pique your prospect’s interest. Keep the subject line within 4-5 words (thinking mobile, roughly 25-30 characters will fit in the subject line on their mobile browser) and mention something about that prospect. (For example, “Have heard great things” or “Awesome SQL Background, Tom” are good places to start).

3. Start a conversation, don’t sell

In your first InMail to the prospect, focus on starting a conversation, rather than selling them on a job. A good place to start is answering the following questions:

- What was it that compelled you to reach out based on their background and expertise?

- What did you notice on their LinkedIn profile that you feel would make them a good hire?

- What role have you played with similar prospects in the past?

-- If you’ve shared the candidate’s profile with your Hiring Manager, you could even mention that in the message (i.e. “Our CFO had a chance to view your profile—and she would love to talk to you!”)

Starting with taking yourself out of it, then weaving the message back to what you know about that person’s industry or field, will help you plant the seeds of credibility. You’re now coming off as a committed matchmaker, someone who knows something about the candidate, and wants to know more. You are someone who wants to talk about them, before talking about you. And that’s an approach that most people will find refreshing.

4. Offer detailed and doable next steps

Top job prospects are busy and can often be turned off by elaborate/time-consuming InMail asks.

To avoid that, set up time to speak on the phone (propose multiple days/times), connect off-line (“Would love to talk about your experience over coffee if you’re open to it”), or, if they’re open to it, connect on LinkedIn. These are all vastly more reasonable and do-able actions than asking a passive top prospect to do something they can’t do, like send you an updated resume or click through to your careers page and apply for a position.

So before using the same old InMail message for a thousandth time, try the above and give your message a personal touch. Your recipients will be glad you did!

* image by Jim Bauer