Do Candidates Read Your LinkedIn Messages?


Life before LinkedIn for recruiters seems almost as distant as dusty as.....well, as some of the unread messages in my LinkedIn inbox actually! Surely they can’t ALL be that bad, you ask? Well, not all of them, but a fair few. Here’s the good news though: it only takes a few small changes for LinkedIn messages to go from drab to fab.

What to avoid:

Grow your linkedIn networkLuckily, it’s easy to make InMail personable – but first, some cautions. Obviously messages sent to candidates in the wrong location or specialisation, or who have already said they’re not interested, are not going to be well received. Nor is the dreaded default, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Only the most desperate candidates are going to go for that, and is desperate really what you’re looking for?One of the most overlooked issues is the failure to draw a distinction between cold calling and cold messaging. On the phone, a sales pitch can be warmed up, adjusted to the candidate’s responses, and brought to life by your voice and personality. A message lacks this luxury - copying and pasting simply isn’t going to cut it.

Cut to the chase and keep it short...

There should be a reason why you’re messaging them and a reason why they are on LinkedIn that you have in common, so lead with that. The first line of a message is where candidates will either switch off or decide to read on, so cut to the chase and put it out there! Keep it brief too. Remember this is just a taster for the conversation you want to have later, so you don’t need to share everything about the job yet.

...but not TOO short!

The flip side to that is a message which is TOO short (or anything which is obviously a template) will hit the trash can before your bulk message has reached the end of its send list. Anything along the lines of “Hi, my name is Joe with <made up name> recruitment and I thought you might be interested in our agency. Please connect/follow us to get in touch” is bad. Bad bad bad. Do I believe that you singled me out to offer me something good? No. Do I believe this is a message designed to help you meet your targets? Yes. Am I buying it? No chance!

Remember to ask for something...

Another important factor - clarity. What’s the next step for the candidate? There’s no point in writing the perfect LinkedIn message without laying out what you want them to do, whether it be giving you a phone number, a CV, or just a bit more information. Make it crystal clear, as it will be off-putting to a candidate to have to figure out how to proceed with a potentially unknown organisation.

...and don't underestimate the power of "thank you!"

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to endear yourself a little in this message. Acknowledge that your message is an intrusion by thanking the candidate for reading it - manners come for free!

Whilst these changes will make your LinkedIn messages more likely to be read, remember to be realistic. Cold messages will have unpredictable results by nature; you’ll always have more luck with a warm introduction, so don’t put all your eggs in the InMail basket! However, a little time and thought can definitely improve your LinkedIn response rate so that the time you do spend there is productive.

linkedin Learn how to cut straight to the most relevant candidates, build a  comprehensive picture of any industry market, and improve the  long-term value of your time spent on LinkedIn.

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Ailsa Partridge

Ailsa is a technical writer and solutions engineer working at Instructure in London.

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