In this age of community building, the art of meeting new people is what separates good recruiters from great recruiters more than ever. With unemployment rates at a significant low, more companies hiring than last year, and fewer people actively looking for jobs, it’s become increasingly critical that we successfully reach out to those passive candidates currently employed but nonetheless open to new opportunities.
In short, cold outreach and getting responses from many people who you’ve never met before is simply a bigger part of the job, and great recruiters are the ones who can get top candidates to respond to their messages. Even the smallest jump in response rate percentage can make a world of difference – that’s how important candidate outreach is to a recruiter’s success.
So how can you do this well?
It starts with avoiding generic language that will make you look at best like an amateur recruiter not worth the time of day, and at worst, like a fool doing damage to your company’s employer brand.
“Approaching people you don’t know with throwaway lines such as ‘How are you doing today?’ or ‘I have the perfect opportunity for you!’ is like coming up to a pit bull you don’t know, grabbing it by the ears, and expecting the pup to happily lick your face,” said Steve Levy, serial recruiting lead and advisor to day100.
That’s a visual that will stick with people: remember if your candidate outreach is not personalized, the pit bull will bite your face off 🙂 Just kidding, but Levy does have a point…
“You don’t know the person,” Levy continued, “other than a title and company, you don’t know what they do; and you have no idea where they are in life – it’s just you and that tired old approach that makes people despise recruiters. How about personalization? And I don’t mean using their name (an inordinate number of these outreaches begin with “Hi,” – without a name).”
Once you’ve ripped out the throwaway language from your company’s default outreach messaging, it’s time to focus on the candidate.
“Ask yourself, how much info can you find online about the candidate?” said Joseph Yeh, Yahoo’s senior technical recruiter. “If there is rich data that would differ or build upon a single source of limited information, exploit it. I mean, you need to go beyond a LinkedIn profile with only name of company, school, and a short list of connections in order to uncover what makes the candidate tick.”
Each prospective candidate is a person first. By researching before outreach, you can create a picture in your own mind about how they could fit in with your company.
“The most important thing with cold outreach to passive candidate is to make it crystal clear why you’re sending your message to them specifically,” said Lumen Sivitz, head of talent strategy at Quantcast. “Comment on things that you find interesting about their backgrounds – things that can only apply to them individually, not just candidates with their same skill set, like a personal project, for instance – and explain why that thing makes you interested in them for your open position.”
Furthermore, it’s very important to remember that the first challenge in transforming a passive candidate into your next great hire is getting them to engage in a dialogue.
“Your goal with personalization is NOT to get a person to agree to an interview, but to agree to listen to the NEXT question” said Levy. “Your task to is to figure out what their career path looks like regardless of the role you’re seeking to fill; they cannot be ‘a perfect fit’ if you don’t put in the effort to discover what a perfect fit means to them.”
There you have it. Now go out there and make your company the provider of top talent’s dream career path.