Talent sourcing is a powerful method for discovering hard to find, talented candidates, both active and passive. While finding candidates can be tricky, getting them to actually respond to you is an entirely different challenge. The reason is simple: first impressions count. Get it right and you could be off to a great start. Get it wrong and you’ll be ignored, or worse. Although recruitment technology has evolved significantly, particularly with the rising prominence of LinkedIn and other professional networks, the personal, human aspect of recruitment and sourcing remains the most important. The fact of the matter is that candidates are people, not statistics or quotas, and you’re going to have to treat them as such. This will require you to consider each on individually and use varying approaches in order to maximize response rates. With that in mind, here are seven important tips for contacting candidates.
When contacting candidates for the first time, your two main choices are usually a phone call or an email of some kind (including LinkedIn). There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Picking up the phone normally allows you to establish a personal rapport quicker than via email. Conversely, sending an email puts less pressure on the candidate because they have time to figure out exactly how they wish to reply. It’s key to carefully consider how different candidates may react to each approach, even if this involves a little generalization. For instance, a sales executive is used to making and taking phone calls on a regular basis, and is therefore more likely to be receptive to a cold call than a software developer.
Regardless of what approach you use, NEVER, EVER SPAM CANDIDATES. Spam is incredibly annoying and gives recruiters a bad name, which is why we rant about it here at Hello Talent all the time 🙂
Many candidates are skeptical of cold calls and emails, even if they’re job hunting; generic outreach templates will do nothing to convince them to respond. It’s crucial to do your homework when you contact candidates, and tailor your approach accordingly. In your first message, or phone call, try to mention both the name of their current or previous employer and their specific role – make sure that it is clear that you are both interested in them and know what you’re talking about.
Note: Using a tool that documents and aggregates candidate information can be particularly helpful here. If you haven’t used Hello Talent for this you should give it a look.
Expect your prospective candidates to be busy – they almost certainly will be. Get to the point of your communication as quickly as possible, but avoid being so brief that you come across too forcefully. Remember that the finer details can come later; your chief aim when contacting a candidate is to pique their interest enough to solicit a reply.
Striking the right balance in the tone of your approach is vital, especially over the phone. Professionalism is, of course, a must, but it’s also beneficial to come across in an amiable fashion. In some instances, you’ll need to be more formal than others, which is why candidate research is so important. Regardless of the level of formality you use, be sure to remain friendly. This doesn’t necessarily mean your candidate will be comfortable having a full conversation with you right away, and that ought to be respected. The idea is simply to prompt a dialogue.
Contacting candidates is more about selling the idea of the job you are recruiting for than assessing their qualifications, otherwise you wouldn’t be contacting them in the first place. During unsolicited contact with them candidates will want to know why they should be interested in what you’re offering. As far as your knowledge allows, focus on how the job opportunity aligns with their career goals or how it offers them opportunities that their current job cannot.
End your message or phone call with a clear call to action. After all, the end goal in this context is to secure a follow up meeting, or at least a phone call, to discuss the opportunity in more detail. Moreover, ask a specific question. For example, instead of asking when they are free to discuss things further, ask the candidate if they can meet or take a call at a particular time of their choice.
If you contact a candidate via email but they don’t reply, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested, so always send a follow up message. As with the tone of your communication, following up requires striking a delicate balance; there’s a fine line between persistence and spam. Wait a few days and send a simple reminder within the same email thread; don’t repeat the same message. If there’s still no reply, try calling them instead. After this point, however it’s normally wise to take the hint and move on.
There are many more things you can do to improve your communications with candidates, but we hope this gives you a baseline. The key point to take home is that you need to keep it personal, friendly, and to the point. Do this, while avoiding being a spammer, and you’ll find that a lot of candidates will be happy to hear from you. If you want more insights on effective candidate communication we highly recommend these articles by Glenn Cathey and Katrina Collier.