Let's say your Series A was successful, so you've finally got the cash to bring on senior roles you've been dying to hire. With excitement, you post a new job description for a Senior Analytics Manager to your website, job boards, and anywhere else you can think of.
But in the past three weeks you’ve only received 13 inbound applications: 11 from recent college graduates with zero professional experience, one from an Adirondacks Park Ranger trying to make a career change, and the last from a developer based in Romania offering to do it remotely for half the price.
So you search for a “Senior Analytics Manager” on LinkedIn and save every person you find to your project folder. Your message describes your awesome company and your dream candidate, and you send it out for three hours a day, every day for two weeks.
Your total response rate? Zero. (Or when they do reply, they click, “Thanks, this isn’t something I’m interested in right now, but let’s keep in touch”.)
All that time for nothing. So how do you elicit responses from candidates you know would be great fits for this role AND cut down the number of messages you need to send a day?
Craft a targeted sourcing message for every candidate you reach out to. The better you aim, the more responses you’ll get--and the more time you’ll save. Here are a couple tips to get you started:
Align the Role With the Candidate’s Profile and Make It Personal
Be explicit about which of the candidate’s skills, attributes, knowledge and motivations tie in with your company’s mission and the open role. Instead of describing the figurative candidate you’re looking for, describe the candidate you’re actually trying to talk to. And avoid stock messages, which make candidates feel like one of dozens you’ve sent messages to. (Because they are.)
Identify the motivations that would compel this person to leave their current job for your company: A promotion or a pay raise? A unique opportunity to leverage all of their skills and interests in a single role? Exposure to a new industry? A career change? Read between the lines in a candidate’s profile, figure out what drives them, and hone in on it.
Forge a Human Connection
If you want to engage the candidate in a conversation, forge a connection. Mirror the phrasing and language candidates use to describe themselves in their LinkedIn and social media profiles. Resist the temptation to use buzzspeak; it can read as insincere. Don’t call someone a rock star unless they call themselves that (or play for a rock band). Use adjectives sparingly, but if you’re excited about a skill or motivation they have, let them know you’re excited!
For example, if you’re a diversity hiring research firm whose clients are Fortune 500 companies, pull out skills and attributes in the candidate’s profile that link to your company, role, and to you, personally:
- Bad Example: “Hey John! I just found your profile on LinkedIn and after reading through it I think you’d be awesome at this senior analytics role I have open at my company, SMH Unlimited! Let’s talk!”
- Good Example: “Hi John (and fellow rock climber!), I hope this message finds you well. I noticed your extensive background in big data analytics at LOL Inc, especially while using technologies like Hadoop. I was also really struck by your vested interest in social justice outside of work, like your volunteer community organizing work for CAAAV in Flushing. It’s really impressive, and I’d like to talk you to about bringing that combination here to SMH Unlimited as the Senior Analytics Manager”
Here’s an actual sourcing message for an active push that elicited an 80% positive response rate:
Operations + People Logistics = SuperCorp!
I hope this message finds you well! I stumbled across your profile and noticed your extensive operations experience as an officer in the US Army, especially during your deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. As an Army brat I can appreciate the remarkable leadership skills, quick-thinking, and tenacity that you honed during your service. Combined with your recent work at CreditQuant in strategic planning as well as your MBA from Columbia, you have impressive skillset and I think you would be a great addition to our team at SuperCorp.
At SuperCorp, we’re building an operation system for offices that combines people, products, and technology to effectively and ethically improve office operations. We’re looking for an imaginative Operations Manager here in New York City to lead and grow a team of hundreds. You can learn more about the role here: https://boards.greenhouse.io/supercorp/jobs/55442
Do you have any availability this week or next for a call?
What works in this message? First, it goes right to the skills Terry has that SuperCorp wants, while establishing a first personal connection through the Army. It then highlights the opportunity to bring Army skills to the workplace, which might strike a chord: many returned veterans struggle to readapt to civilian life, and Terry probably knows plenty of them. Only after a final nod to recent academic and professional success do we describe the opportunities available at SuperCorp.
Does this all take more work upfront? Sure, but the results are well worth it. Instead of paltry interest in some hypothetical person, individually targeted messages yield specific, highly accomplished, real people. And now they're very interested in you.