The 3 Types of LinkedIn InMail Subject Lines: The Keepers, The Sleepers And The Bleepers

July 14, 2015

Do you know why you are reading this blog? Because you found the headline catchy. The same applies for your LinkedIn InMail subject lines. These lines are generally the first impression a candidate forms of you and your company – so you want to make them count. A great one will make your future hire actually read the rest of the message and consider the open position.

I call those keepers.

There’s a second type of subject lines called the sleepers. Those are ones that are so boring, they could put a candidate to sleep, and almost never incite a response.

You aren’t going to attract many candidates with those. These get a “meh” response from your target audience and expect your InMail response rates to drop if you continue to send “sleepers.”

And then, there are the bleepers. The bleepers are the subject lines that are so bad, candidates see them and are compelled to say “what the (bleep)?”

Not only will you not attract the candidate, you’ll hurt your company’s employer brand with them as well. Not exactly what you want.

Below, I’ve listed some examples of each – take a look and make sure to keep the keepers and avoid the rest.

The keepers

I’ll start with the positive first. The keepers are the best subject lines that are most likely to entice a candidate to read the InMail and actually consider the position.

1. (Shared connection) suggested that I reach out to you…

If the candidate you are targeting is connected via LinkedIn with someone in your company, you should leverage that relationship. It brings you closer to the person, because now you’re not a stranger, but a friend of a friend. LinkedIn Recruiter makes it easier by exposing these relationships when you start composing InMails to second degree connections.

2. Hello from a fellow avid Scuba diver

Most people put some of their interests outside of work on their LinkedIn profile. By mentioning this in your subject line, you tap into a passion that person has and show you’ve actually done some research about them, which makes a candidate feel special (and makes you stand out from other “cold InMailers”).

3. We overlapped at Rutgers for two years, but….

You should absolutely leverage any sort of shared experience you have with the candidate, such as if you worked at the same company as them or attended the same college. Again, this brings you a bit closer to the candidate and shows you’ve actually done some research about them. Start composing a personalized InMail and LinkedIn Recruiter will once again surface these connecting data points to you.

4. Sankar, do you wish you could come back to Cisco?

Obviously, this one only works if you are targeting someone who left your company. Like the first one, it taps into an existing relationship, which makes you less of a stranger (and which company does not look for “boomerang” employees”?)

The sleepers

These are the subject lines that are so boring, they’ll just be quietly be ignored. Most of the time, they are completely impersonal and do nothing to flatter the candidate.

1. You are probably happy at LinkedIn, but…

At least this one is slightly personalized. Still, it’s been used a thousand times before, and isn’t going to cause anybody to stop and read it.

2. New product marketing manager role

Yawn. (really? I was looking for old product marketing manager roles)

3. Looking for a dynamic Director of Marketing with a broad marketing background for a great company!

I’m really starting to get tired now. (can you be any less generic?)

4. Career Opportunity with XYZ Co.


Remember with “sleeper” subject lines you are wasting invaluable InMail credits since the likelihood of getting a response is low.

The bleepers

These are the worst of the bunch. They are the subject lines that are so annoying, they’ll actually cause the candidate to swear when they read them. And LinkedIn now offers individual InMail recipients the ability to block the worst offenders. Not really the best way to build your social media reputation or your employer’s brand.

1. Did you get my earlier message?

Yes, and I didn’t respond that time either. (Take a hint!)

2. I couldn’t reach you via phone so hoping that you check you InMails

This one actually will get you a response, in the form of a court mandated restraining order. (Getting “stalker-ish”)

3. My client is interested in filling a marketing leader role immediately

Sounds like your client has some major issues. Good thing I don’t work for him. (Don’t make your problem, mine)

4. Nice LinkedIn Profile. How are you?

What’s next, a dozen red roses and a cheap bottle of champagne? (Please keep this professional network, professional)

Final thought

Just like a headline is the most important part of an article, a subject line is the most critical part of an InMail. Make them count by personalizing them and remembering it’s all about the prospect and what they want, not the position you need to fill.

Recruiters who take a few extra seconds to write great InMail subject lines will get stronger candidates and improve their company’s employer brand and obviously garner higher InMail response rates. Conversely, recruiters who do the opposite, well, won’t.

And they’ll probably incite a few bleeps along the way. So send wisely.

Find more InMail writing trips here.

* images by The TerminatorJeff Hilltravelwayoflife