13 Invaluable Tips For Writing LinkedIn Messages That Will Attract The Perfect Job Candidates

How do you grab the attention of someone whose inbox is already flooded? Like this.

So you’ve found the perfect candidate on LinkedIn and now need to craft an irresistible message to them.

You’re aware they’re probably getting approached every other day by different organizations not to mention the plethora of hungry recruitment consultants on the prowl.

On the other side of that blank LinkedIn box on your screen is the message-weary candidate annoyed at receiving yet another inquiry about whether they’d be keen to learn more about a "perfect opportunity at XYZ Inc."

Among all the competitive LinkedIn clutter, how do you stand out from the crowd?

We’ve analyzed blogs from recruiters and hiring managers, and we've successfully recruited passive candidates from all over the Internet to bring you the top tips for writing messages to get the attention—and the time—of the candidates you really want.

Go for quality over quantity.

Maybe you have your own tried-and-true methods. Perhaps you have templates that seem to be working? Is it because you’re smashing through 100 candidates a week in the belief "it’s a number’s game" or that if you throw enough mud at the wall something’s bound to stick?

Far and wide, the emails that get the attention of highly sought-after candidates are those that are incredibly personalized. This takes time, but your success rate will be much higher. Choose quality over quantity.

Do your homework.

The number one frustration of candidates targeted through LinkedIn is messages that show the employer or hiring manager hasn’t done his or her homework:

  • Check their background: Look for any shared histories between your organization (or your client) and the candidate. You will look very stupid if you approach someone who has already worked with people in that organization.

  • Check their strengths and skills: For example, just because they did events management the year after they finished high school doesn’t mean that’s what they want to do in the future. You are wasting the candidates’ time and your time by pitching roles they have no interest in doing.

Be concise (but not too concise).

The ideal-tailored message is 150–250 words. Less than 150 words and you risk coming across as if you don’t care enough. More than 250 words and the candidate won’t read it or will assume you don’t value their time. Keep it simple and straightforward.

Use the words You, 'Your, and Yours A LOT.

As with any well-crafted job ad, the best LinkedIn messages are those that focus on the candidate. Show your familiarity with their career history by highlighting the skills and experience that stood out to you.

Don’t launch into too much detail about the opportunity. Rather, paint a picture of the person’s suitability within your organization. "You’ll be working . . . ," "You’d be responsible for . . . ," "It would give you the perfect opportunity to. . . .

Throw away personal introductions.

"Hi, I’m . . . " is unnecessary. Your name is in the header.

The first sentence is your first impression and invaluable in grabbing the attention of the passive candidate as quickly as possible. Begin with a sentence talking directly to them or about them. Save the other information for later.

Kill the generic flattery.

It might feel nice the first time a candidate receives an email saying ‘I’ve come across your profile and I am impressed.’ However, after a while, the generic flattery falls flat.

It sounds insincere and can quickly turn a candidate off. Flattery is fine, but be specific about it. Which brings us to our next point.

Be specific.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to show that you have spent the time looking into the candidate’s background. This alone will put you in the top 5% of emails received.

Mention specific things about the candidate that caught your attention, such as, "I noticed you have taken on three project management roles in the past four years, which suggests to me that you may have a desire to expand your skills and oversee a bigger team . . . "

Don’t lie.

Be careful with those little white lies like "I’ve heard about your work" when you haven’t, or "Someone told me about you" when they didn’t.

If you don’t have specifics, you could be caught out at a later date. Beware of pretending that you have already spoken to them when you haven’t.

If they’re interested in your opportunity, they will remember. Your "RE:" in the subject line or "Hey again!" paints you as untrustworthy.

Suggest a specific date for a chat.

If you’re serious about the candidate, show it. Suggest a time to catch up within the next seven days and use actual names of the days, rather than "sometime this week." For example, "If you’re interested, would you like to catch up either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning?"

If you follow up, mention that you are following up.

Not mentioning that you have previously sent an email looks like you couldn’t be bothered to remember or to personalize the email again. If the candidate was seriously interested in your opportunity, but just didn’t have time to get back to you, they will remember you.

Coming across like you don’t care could lose that opportunity. Use something along the lines of "Just sending you another email" or "I contacted you a few weeks ago" as your openers.

Don’t ask for details of other people who may be suitable.

This is the equivalent of someone asking you out on a date and then saying, "But if you’re not keen, do you think any of your friends would be?"

You want the candidate to feel as though they are special, as though they have been picked out of the crowd. If it’s a good opportunity that might suit a friend or colleague, they will pass it on.

Don’t call them at work.

There’s nothing more awkward for a candidate than getting a phone call from a potential employer in the middle of a workday. You have just interrupted their flow. If they are interested, they can’t say it on the spot. Give them the space to choose when to speak to you.

Try to find someone who knows them for an introduction.

Far and away the number one way of standing out to a potential recruit is to organize an introduction through someone else who knows them. LinkedIn Graph is great for this. Use your networks to get as close and personal as possible before making first contact.

These aren’t just good ideas—they are tried and tested rules and processes that will make you stand out to your next ideal candidate.

Paul Slezak is a cofounder of RecruitLoop, an online recruitment marketplace based in Australia and San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter at @Paul_Slezak‎.

[Image: Flickr user Rhys A.]

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4 Comments

  • Alihyde

    I like this article--it is time to try some new techniques and get rid of a few too! Thank you

  • Cari Turley

    Really, this boils down to "remember that you are recruiting a human being." It sounds obvious (and it is!), but if people were actually treating candidates like human beings, there wouldn't be so many of these articles.