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Ah, the InMail. The internet’s most abused piece of communication. People have been squandering the opportunity InMails afford them since their day of inception by sending unsolicited, automated, and un-personalised messages that even the most polite person in the world wouldn’t respond to. As a result, the humble InMail has gained itself a bit of a bad rep.
But that stops today.
Today, I’ll be showing you some techniques you can use to write successful InMails and how to turn an admittedly self-interested piece of communication into an irresistible opportunity for the candidate in 3 paragraphs. It’s no mean feat, but it can be done.
The ultimate goal of your InMail is to start a conversation with your potential candidate. Nothing more, nothing less. You are not going to, nor should you aim to, seal the deal with one InMail. Your message should open a dialog between you and the candidate about their career path and career goals.
Getting a response is the only KPI you need here.
2. Use an attention grabbing subject line
“Job Opportunity”, “We’re Hiring”, “New product manager role”, “Career opportunity with ACME Ltd.” Zzzzzzz… Sorry dosed off there in amongst the most boring, mundane and uninspiring InMail subject lines of all time! Where was I? Oh yes…
The subject line of your InMail is the very first impression a candidate will form of your message. If it fails to reel them in, you’re toast. Any other carefully crafted, witty paragraphs beneath it will be null and void. So make it count.
The key here (as with the main body of your InMail) is personalisation. Your InMail needs to look like it was intended for one candidate and one candidate only. It needs to speak to them and compel them to click through. Intrigue them. The hook needs to grab their attention and get them interested. How do you get people interested? Answer: Be different! Don’t do what everyone else does! Don’t copy your colleague and certainly don’t do what every other recruiter on the planet does.
- “Sharon suggested I get in touch” – mentioning a mutual connection. Referencing a former common employer in your InMail increases your chances of getting a response by 27%.
- “Hello from a fellow dressage rider” – acknowledging a common interest. By mentioning a common interest in your subject line, you tap into a passion that 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.
- “LOVED your article on the Gender Pay Gap!” – congratulating them on an achievement/piece of work. Again, this shows you have done your research and gives the candidates an ego boost that you enjoyed their article.
When formulating a subject line, ask yourself things like; how do I know this person? Why am I reaching out to them? Do I share a connection/group/location/hobby with them? And use the answer to shape your subject line.
Oh, and keep the whole thing to between 7-8 words. Most people will be reading their InMails on a mobile device. Anything longer than 7-8 words will be look like an essay to wade through.
3. Introduce Yourself
If you saw a candidate at a job fair, you wouldn’t just walk straight up to them and launch into your pitch, without introducing yourself, shaking hands and explaining who you are. Well, social norms apply to InMails too.
NEVER assume a candidate will click on over into your profile to discover who you are and what you do. People are busy. They have work to do and lives to lead. To them you are a stranger. So respect their time and their attention by writing a quick intro to your InMail that tells them who you are, what you do and why you wanted to get in touch with them specifically.
4. Keep it short and sweet
They say people are cash rich and time poor. Well, I don’t know about that first part, but these days people are most definitely time poor! Particularly in demand candidates. That’s why they’re in demand after all! So if you’ve gotten them as far as opening your mail, don’t waste their time with an InMail comparable to War & Peace.
5. Make it highly personalised
Your candidates should feel like this message is being sent to them and them alone. It should feel in no way general. Research tells us that the best way to ensure a message is personalised is to include at least two unique things about the candidate in the message. And no, one of those is not their first name! By including at least two unique things about that candidate in your email, it shows you’ve done your research and that you are genuinely interested in them.
Read their profile. ALL OF IT. How often have you stopped reading a candidate’s profile after scanning the Work Experience section? To find those unique talking points you need to make use of the little glimmers on a person’s profile that give you a connection to them. Better still, if they happen to have a link to their Twitter account or some other form of social media, go and scan that for a while.
Make reference to the candidate’s current employer, their current job title, their degree, an award they’ve won, or a blog post they’ve written. If you have any “uncommon commonalities” with them e.g. a love of the same sports team or a passion for Spanish cuisine, be sure to mention it. If you discover you both have a mutual connection, be sure to mention them too. Or if you see they like to tweet quotes from a particular film or TV show, acknowledge it. All of this shows the candidate that you care about them as a person and not just about how their skills can benefit your client or company.
Bottom line: the more personal the message, the more obliged the candidate will feel to reply. And after all, a reply is exactly what you’re looking for.
6. Lead with them, not you
Notice that the entire first paragraph and most of the message in the example above is all about the recipient. In only one sentence out of 7 did I mention the company, and even then it was to convey the benefits of the team.
Displaying a tasteful sense of humour in your messages will always be welcome and it makes you look more personable, approachable and most importantly, human. Humour also sets the tone for a joyful working relationship in the future. Win-win. Check out the way I’ve included a relevant yet humourous nod to the candidate’s Mean Girls obsession at the very end of the InMail above.
That said, you don’t have to be funny in your InMails, especially if it doesn’t come naturally to you. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to be funny and just sounding insincere or idiotic as a result. If you’re unsure whether or not to use a particular line or make a particular joke, ask someone to read it and sanity check it first.
8. The presumptive close
I know I keep saying it, but it’s true, especially of the most sought after candidates. People are busy and sometimes, even with the best of intentions, people forget to reply.
The most common closing line for headhunt emails is: “Let me know if you’re interested”. This is NOT a good closing line. The aim of this InMail is to get a response, so you need to compel the person to reply to you, right now. Therefore, it’s best to close with a time specific call to action. The call to action could be, “Can you take a call at 6:30pm this evening to discuss further?” or “I’m going to be near your office on Tuesday. Can you meet me for coffee at 12pm to discuss?”. This invariably elicits a must faster and higher response rate as it puts the ball firmly in their court.