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Are You a LinkedIn InMail Spammer?!

engaging candidates

The game is up LinkedIn spammers! As you may or may not have heard, LinkedIn is finally cracking down on lazy recruiters using their InMail service, the world over. From now on, if you wish to contact potential candidates using one of your designated InMails, you better do so in the most innovative and engaging way possible. Because if you fail to do so, LinkedIn are removing your privilege to send said InMails and they’re removing it for quite a substantial period of time too.

Yes, recruiters with an InMail response rate of less than 13% are being penalised from now on. In the official press release, LinkedIn stated; Most recruiters know that personalised InMails garner higher response rates. But a handful of Recruiter users (less than 2%) still send thousands of generic InMails per month. 94% are bulk InMails (one InMail to two or more members) that aren’t personalised to each recipient. Since these InMails are impersonal, they garner low response rates, create a bad member experience, and cause some members to be less responsive to other recruiters’ InMails, which can decrease overall InMail response rates. Long story short, everyone loses.  And we would have to agree whole-heartedly!

So in an effort to combat a plague of lazy recruiters, LinkedIn will be notifying Recruiter users that if their InMail response rate drops below 13% on 100 or more InMails sent over a 14-day period they will have their InMail privileges significantly reduced.

But while we’re delighted LinkedIn have decided to take this stance, we’re more than a little bit horrified that it’s come to this. The InMail is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from every other recruiter out there. Because, let’s face it, if you’re looking to contact a certain candidate because they meet your criteria, chances are, other recruiters are doing so too for the very same reasons. And the only way you can ensure a response to your message and not theirs, is to stand out for all the right reasons.

That’s where we come in. We have devised a 3 step framework on which to build the perfect InMail message, that we guarantee will help you avoid being branded as a LinkedIn InMail spammer.

The Science Behind Engaging Candidates

1. Make it personal!

engaging candidatesThe most important thing to remember when you’re sending a candidate an InMail, is that you are engaging with a real person and that person has to feel like your message went to them and them alone and that they now have an obligation to return the message.

According to LinkedIn and the analytics behind the Recruiter product, you can improve your InMail response rates if you do the following things:

  • Make reference to at least 2 unique personal details (and no, their first name is not unique!) in the InMail communication. It can be a reference to their current employer, a past employer, the university the went to, a common connection you both share or (if you’ve really done your social recruiting homework) reference to a LinkedIn blog they’ve published or a piece of multimedia included in their profile.
  • Sharing a LinkedIn Group with a candidate statistically drives up InMail response rates according to LinkedIn, so if you do share a group, be sure to mention it.
  • The same goes for commonalities like sharing a previous employer, location or university. Statistically, candidates who share any of these things with you will respond faster than those who don’t.

*BONUS NOTE: Target people who are in their job less than 2 years. The stats show that these candidates will almost always respond to your InMails more quickly than those who have been employed by the same company for longer.

2. Get to the Point FAST!

engaging candidatesWe all have things to do, places to go and people to see. Candidates are no different, so the faster you can get to the point in your InMail, the better!

Why not try the 3 sentence approach:

1.The Hook

The first thing your InMail needs to do is grab the candidate’s attention. You can do this by:

Being Different – try and do what all your colleagues aren’t like using an alternative email subject line that’s a bit out of the ordinary.

Flattering them with a twist – instead of going with the usual “Hey, I got your name from somebody“, say “I had coffee with a former colleague of yours from [previous employer] who said you were excellent at XXX and suggested I reach out to you“. In doing so, you’re getting straight to the point, making it personal and intriguing them.

2. What’s In It For Them (WIIFT)

Once you’ve gotten their attention and established what it is you’re reaching out to them for, you need to tell them what’s in it for them i.e why they should be interested in your job over the other jobs they may be being offered. And specifically, why should this exact person be interested in your job (bear in mind that every candidate will be different when it comes to what they need and want out of a new job)?

Is the location of this job better (a shorter commute, requires a move back to their beloved home town etc.)? Is the salary better? Is this job an obvious step up on the career ladder for them? Take time to study their profile beforehand and really gauge what it is that THIS candidates would want from THIS job.

3. The Close

Always finish off your InMail with a sentence that sounds as though you have assumed they will want this job and be sure your closing sentence includes a time specific call to action (i.e. what you need them to do and the time you need them to do it by). For example, “Are you available to take a call at 4PM tomorrow to discuss further?” You need them to take a call from you and you need them to take it at 4PM.

3. The Follow Up

engaging candidatesWhile this is not strictly part of the InMail process (you’ve both written and sent that at this point), this could be the difference between a response or no response. Whenever you send an InMail, always diary an action to follow up with that person in X amount of days from when you send the InMail. Remember, people are busy and they may just have forgotten about the InMail you sent them. They could have been in a meeting at the time it arrived or on the phone to their spouse. All you need to do is remind them that you reached out to them and ask them the simple yes or no question: “Are you interested?”.

Worst case scenario, they say no, in which case you ask them if they would be able to refer you to anyone else who might be interested, and best case scenario, they say yes.


So don’t be a LinkedIn InMail spammer. If you’ve gotten this far in our blog post, there is no reason for you to get black listed or even fear getting black listed by LinkedIn’s InMail Police. You now have the perfect framework on which to build personalised, engaging and ultimately response driving InMails.

For more information on how you can successfully contact and engage candidates across several communication channels including email, Twitter, Facebook and by phone be sure to check out our Black Belt in Internet Recruitment online training course. Our Networking & Engaging module in particular, will provide you with an 8 step framework that will enable you to engage as a peer with your target candidate sector, leverage relationships and improve your messaging techniques to drive more referrals and qualified, quality candidate responses.


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