Writing InMails: 4 Common Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them

May 2, 2018

As a recruiter, you know how important it is to make a great first impression on a candidate. And often, your first point of contact is your InMail message. The wrong subject line, content, or small oversight could turn away a candidate who would be the perfect fit.

So, to help you get a clear picture of common InMail mistakes you should avoid, we’ve put together a list from our latest ebook, 8 Best and Worst Recruiting InMail Examples. We’ve also included helpful tips for crafting messages that will make a great impression and get swift responses from your candidates.

1. Using generic subject lines that fail to grab the reader’s attention

Your subject line is your first chance to grab the candidate’s attention—and it will determine if they even open and read your InMail in the first place.

If your subject line constructions are generic and overused, they won’t stand out. Here are a few examples of the types of subject lines you want to avoid:

And ones that you really want to avoid:

These “ugly” subject lines take things a step too far by making the candidate uncomfortable, and in the process can hurt your employer brand and end up turning off future candidates.

The best subject lines will convince even a passive candidate to open your InMail with a concise, persuasive, and personalized statement, like these:

As with the body of your message, a little bit of personalization and homework is often enough to turn your subject lines into an A+. Notice that these great examples also get to the point quickly and concisely, while establishing just enough of a connection to get the reader hooked.

2.  Not taking the time to personalize your message

One easy way to turn a candidate off from the get-go is with an overly generic message that could have been sent to anyone.

Here’s an example of that:

This message has a lot of issues, from its aggressive subject line to its weird closer, which basically asks the candidate for a separate favor (attending the recruiter’s webinar). But the most glaring is the total lack of personalization. After using the candidate’s name at the beginning, the recruiter makes no attempt to form a warm, personal connection with the recipient.

And though using templates can be a great way to save time, using them carelessly is one of the worst InMail mistakes you can make. Spelling the candidate’s name wrong, forgetting to fill in the template (like leaving “[INSERT]” in your message), and not adding any personal touches make it obvious that you didn’t try. The best templates leave room for some personalization in order to both help you be more efficient and make the candidate feel special.

By contrast, great InMail messages show off your attention to detail. By mentioning specific aspects of the candidate’s experience—and if possible, calling out a personal connection—you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting a response:

From the personalized subject line, to the mention of the candidate’s qualifications and calling out their specific experience, the recruiter quickly establishes a warm connection that will leave the reader engaged and wanting to learn more about the role.

3. Asking the candidate to do the heavy lifting for you

When you reach out to a candidate on LinkedIn, your only focus should be piquing their interest and hopefully getting a response. So, asking them to essentially do your job for you is a no-no. 

Consider this unfortunate InMail:

The recruiter asks the candidate to pass along an opportunity for them, but never establishes a warm, personal connection—in fact, they didn’t even include the recipient’s name.

Whenever you’re asking the candidate for something, you should do so with a solid call to action, and only after flattering them a bit.

Check out this message:

Here, the recruiter brings in the hiring manager for added credibility, then adds a personal note that shows she’s done some research on the candidate—and even sets up the opportunity with just the right amount of FOMO. By the time she asks the candidate to reach out with their availability, she’s already reeled them in with a warm, enticing message.

4. Hiding the hook (and overloading the candidate with information)

No candidate wants to wade through a long-winded message, especially when it buries the hook under tons of unnecessary information.

Here’s an example:

From industry jargon to unnecessary details to links that serve only to distract the reader, this extra-long InMail overloads the candidate with information—and it makes them do the extra work of reading through to get to the important parts, which usually means they’re simply going to click away.

You’ll have much better luck with a short, sweet message like this one:

Here, the recruiter proves that less truly is more. She fits in some personalization (and even a shared connection), some specifics that will pique the candidate’s interest, and a good call to action, but still leaves the candidate wanting more with just a 121-word message. You can go even shorter than that, in fact—LinkedIn’s data shows InMails over 200 words get fewer responses, while ones under 100 words actually get the highest response rates.

Final thoughts

When done right, InMail messages are an incredible opportunity to pique a candidate’s interest, and a great InMail can be the first step in turning a passive candidate into your company’s latest hire. On the other hand, sloppy and generic messages will not only turn off readers—if they open them at all—but they can even come back to haunt you by hurting your employer brand. Take a cue from the “after” messages above and your response rates (and hiring managers) will be sure to thank you.

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