In our previous post, we discussed Whether Your Recruiting Efforts Are Bringing You Results

We talked about the importance of having numbers to understand if what you’re doing is driving productivity or diminishing it.

Once you identified your stumbling points in the workflow based on numbers what do you do then? How do you fix it?

I would like to take an example of one of the most common stumbling points for many recruiters which are to write a compelling LinkedIn message that a candidate would even consider reading.

The problem with the traditional approach

Over the years LinkedIn became one of the most popular sources to search for candidates and often times it is treated like a typical job board. Whereas, there is some validity to that, not every LinkedIn profile is a candidate that’s actively seeking. On a typical job board, people usually are active job seekers, whereas, on LinkedIn, it’s a mix of passive and active candidates, thus the approach should be different.

Typically, recruiters use a traditional approach that they would use on a job board which basically boils down to a greeting and then a HUGE text of the job description along with a long history of who the company is.

Imagine how many messages like this a candidate on LinkedIn gets per day? I know Software Developers that get up to 5 per day! That’s a lot of messages and taking into account that they all look the same decreases the chances of them being read. If the candidate is not actively seeking and they see that you’re a recruiter with a standard, long job description they’ll just pass.

I’ve done this approach myself for a while, but it got me replies only back in the day when LinkedIn wasn’t such a popular source for recruiting. Overtime, me and my team had to make adjustments, because it simply wasn’t working as we wanted. Candidates were getting overwhelmed with the same messages and our reply rates got lower than 10%.

Why is that the case?

Active seekers consider every message from recruiters because they need a job, whereas a passive seeker is currently employed and you would need to give them a very good reason why they should consider making a move.

In order to give them a good reason, you have to analyze their profiles correctly. The fact that they have a couple of keywords listed on their profile that match your job description doesn’t make them a match. There’s more to consider in a LinkedIn profile than just keywords.

What to consider before sending a message

Here are a couple of things you should consider BEFORE sending a message to your LinkedIn connection:

  1. Would the position that you’re offering be an improvement in their career or a step back? What makes it an improvement?
  2. Does the position match their experience by at least 90%? It has to match most of the experience yet there have to be those 10% that don’t match since that will give them an additional incentive to consider the position. This happens especially if there’s a skill within their domain that they haven’t used professionally but would get an opportunity to develop at their new position.
  3. Are they at the right seniority level? They might be under or overqualified.
  4. What kind of companies do they like to work for? Do they like working for the government, product companies, or maybe even startups?
  5. What industries do they prefer? Healthcare, Finance, Advertising, etc.
  6. What courses/certifications have they taken recently?
  7. What are their interests outside of work? Candidates sometimes list that on their LinkedIn profiles and that could be a very nice way to establish a point of communication at the early stages of your correspondence or even later on.

These are just guidelines to give you direction on what to consider. It’s not an exhaustive list. Sometimes a LinkedIn profile may not be descriptive enough for you to establish an instant rapport. That’s where you have to consider other sources of information about the candidate to better get to know them. Having that information will help you understand how to approach them and what kind of LinkedIn message to write.

Becoming a trusted career adviser

I know the complaint… We are all pressed on time, especially in recruiting. But here’s where the game gets twisted. While we try to get those numbers up, we lose quality relationships. To some extent, it is a game of numbers, but the more time you invest to gather information about your candidate the higher the chances for you to get a reply from them because they will see that it’s not just about filling the position for you. It’s about being their trusted career adviser that is willing to listen and provide options.

If your message is written from this standpoint they will be willing to talk to you A LOT more even if they’re not interested in making a move right now, but might turn to you in the future when they are ready because they will remember you as a person that brings value.

What brings value to your LinkedIn recruitment messages

I’m going to lay out some ideas for a LinkedIn message that brings value. It will be YOUR job to create a customized message for each of your candidates.

Express interest

If you can’t think of what value you can bring – start off with a simple message where you will express interest in getting to know them and their career aspirations. Emphasize that you’re not trying to actively recruit them at this point rather you’re seeking ways to network and keep in touch for any opportunities ahead. Which can be starting their own business, moving into a different role, making more money, relocating to another country, etc. Whatever the case may be you should act as a career adviser that is interested in building long-term relationships and helping them move towards their dream jobs.

It is also useful to mention why they should trust you to be their career adviser. If you are a newbie recruiter then you can use the experience of your company and its accomplishments to help you present yourself. If you’re more experienced you can provide examples of how you have managed to help other people find better career options.

Market statistics

Another way of bringing value is to provide market statistics. Think of what would be useful for your candidates to know? You can provide them with salary statistics for certain position titles in their area or in their country.

Gather statistics on what are the most in-demand positions based on who the companies are hiring. Or useful information on how to get a working visa and move abroad. Your potential candidates will appreciate all of that information a lot. Since it takes time and effort to find it and if you can gather that in one place as a report and send them monthly newsletter you will be bringing tons of value.

Market insights

Offer them a phone call where you can provide them with the market insight that they need. You can do a little research on the open positions/companies in your area and while you talk with your candidate on the phone you can let them know who’s hiring and for which positions, what are they paying, etc.

In this way, you are gauging interest of the candidate to explore options rather to commit to something at this point. The latter usually sounds overwhelming, because they start thinking about these long interviewing process where they have to talk to a lot of people and invest time in recruiters that never get back to them and so on and so forth.

Show benefits

Here is where you can actually bring additional value by pointing out why an interviewing process with you is better. What’s in it for them? If you don’t have a valid reason you have to rethink the way you’re interviewing candidates. We’ll talk about that in our upcoming blog posts.

So by approaching your LinkedIn candidates from a standpoint of being a career adviser that brings value, your message will inevitably change from being centered around you to them which as a result will get them interested in talking to you and exploring options. In this case, you’re not shoving a position in their face based on keywords on their LinkedIn profile.


I know that in some recruiting companies it might be rather difficult to invest more time in building relationships with each of your potential candidates since everything is driven by placements. However, even if you can make this one little shift in the way you perceive your candidate it will influence the way you’ll write a message to them which will influence their willingness to reply to you.

By making these adjustments in our recruiting teams we were able to significantly increase our reply rates from candidates which exceeded far beyond 10%.

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