Inside every recruiter’s deleted mail folder are hundreds of messages from well-intentioned job seekers. Many of these remain unread. But recruiters aren’t evil people (usually). Hell, finding great talent for clients is how they get paid. So why does messaging a recruiter via email or LinkedIn so rarely generate a response?
Two reasons: 1) they’re swamped and 2) you’re probably doing it wrong. The crush of messages recruiters receive daily is staggering. They can’t possibly answer every one. But if you play the game the right way, recruiters will take notice.
Let’s get this out of the way, shall we? Working with recruiters is not a numbers game. Sending the same message to 100 recruiters is a great way to ensure that all 100 messages will go unanswered. Recruiters get tons — sometimes dozens, sometimes more — of unsolicited messages each day. They can spot spam a mile away.
“Hi there. I’m an experienced B2B marketing consultant who’s currently exploring new opportunities. I’d love to connect with you to discuss how I can work with your firm to find my next challenge. Call me at 555-555-5555.”
Messages like this are obviously spam. I’m not going to explain why spam doesn’t work, because I shouldn’t have to. Don’t spam. It’s that simple.
Mention a Specific Role
Do your research ahead of time and find out what jobs the recruiter is currently working on. LinkedIn makes this especially easy. Reference their name, their firm, and — most
importantly — a specific job you’re interested in. Mention this job in your subject line. If, say, a recruiter is looking for a Content Strategist, give your message a title like: “Experienced Content Leader for your Content Strategist Role.” This will differentiate you from the countless others with subjects like: “Would love to connect,” “Let’s Talk,” or even the ubiquitous, “Hey.”
Get to the Point
Like your subject line, your message should be short and immediately understandable. Long walls of text don’t get read, simply because recruiters don’t have the time. Instead, mention the role and give a brief summary of your qualifications in two or three short sentences. If the recruiter wants to know more, they’ll contact you. Err on the side of brevity.
Talk About Your Value, Not Your Needs
This advice applies to virtually every aspect of the job search. Rather than telling a recruiter what you’re looking for, explain what you can offer their client. Give them a quick look at your skills and experience. Few of your competitors will do this, making it a welcome sight for recruiters.
Offer Multiple Methods of Contact
Including your number is a must, but don’t stop there. You never know what method of communication a particular recruiter prefers, so give them options. If you’re sending a message through LinkedIn, include an email address and vice versa. Encourage them to text you if they like. And be sure your voicemail is set up correctly and not clogged. The amount of “this user has not configured their voicemail” or “this mailbox is full” messages recruiters receive when trying to call potential talent is just staggering. Really.
Work a Reference if You’ve Got One
If the recruiter you’re messaging placed a friend or colleague in a new role, mention that person’s name immediately. Great talent knows great talent, and referrals are a huge source of quality hires. If you’ve got a connection, work it.
Bonus: Get Your Resume and Profile in Order Before Contacting a Recruiter
When a surgeon opens a patient up, discovers that the problem is beyond help, and immediately closes the incision, they call it a “peek and shriek.” We use that same term for when we take a deeper look at a promising candidate, only to find a nightmare on their resume or LinkedIn profile. No matter how good they actually are, there’s no way we could pitch them to a client. Think about it like this: if one of your direct reports turned in a deck that was an absolute disaster, would you pass it on to your boss? Of course not. The same goes for recruiters. The quality of the talent they submit to their clients reflects on them. Get your stuff together before you start pinging recruiters, guys.
And definitely follow up — once.