How to Get Candidates to Respond to Your Emails

Here’s an awesome presentation by super sourcer Glenn Cathey. The last tip one is probably the best.

Be Human.

What’s Inside…

  1. What is your goal in messaging candidates? What does success look like to you? Is it a specific response rate? Ultimately, the goal is simply to get a response – it has nothing to do with whether someone is looking or interested in your job not. Any response is a “win” in that you have 2-way engagement.
  2. Messaging Conundrum – Which is Best? 50 emails @ 30% 100 emails @ 25% 200 emails @ 20% 400 emails @ 15% 15 25 40 60 # responses Which is more efficient? Which is spammy? Do you care?
  3. >70% *Should* Respond… Source: 2015 LinkedIn Talent Trends Survey of over 20,000 fully employed workers in 29 countries
  4. Surprised? Only 10% of developers (highly sought after talent) said they’re actively looking, yet nearly 70% would consider moving jobs. If you’re not getting a 70%+ response rate, it’s not because most people aren’t recruitable, it’s your approach. Source: 2015 Stack Overflow Careers Global Developer Hiring Landscape  26,086 developers from 157 countries were surveyed
  5. Developers prefer email (and don’t really hate LinkedIn InMails!) 65% Source: 2015 Stack Overflow Careers Global Developer Hiring Landscape –  26,086 developers from 157 countries were surveyed
  6. (What recruiters think)
  7. (Closer to reality)
  8. Understand what it’s like to be constantly pursued by recruiters…
  9. Surprised?
  10. 5 Whys Exercise Sakichi Toyoda 1867 – 1930 The 5 Whys is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. The technique was originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda and is “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach . . . by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.” – Taiichi Ohno The tool has seen widespread use beyond Toyota, and is now used within Kaizen, lean manufacturing, Asana (software), and Six Sigma.
  11. Perform a 5 Whys Exercise using this problem statement: I don’t get 100% response rate from my messages You will find that there are a number of different 1st answers to why people don’t respond – you will need to explore each with additional whys. You can do this with peers, hiring managers, recent hires, candidates, etc. This exercise might be one of the most enlightening of your career!
  12. Be Human Be Human (don’t be a zombie recruiter) When you approach potential candidates, be a person 1st and a recruiter 2nd. Treat them as a person 1st and a potential candidate 2nd.
  13. Photo: James Box Make the effort to understand what it must feel like to be relentlessly pursued by recruiters on a daily basis
  14. Photo: WestonStudioLLC Take the time to see things from the perspective of potential candidates and ask critical questions
  15. Source: Why are technical recruiters so clueless?
  16. Be aware there are many people and sites that post poor recruiter messages. Simple rule: Don’t write anything you’d be embarrassed to find shared publicly online Source: Sh*t recruiters do Source: @recruiterbro on Twitter
  17. Do your homework before reaching out to anyone. Today, you have more access to information about people than ever before in the history of recruiting. Use social aggregators or at the very least Google the people you’re trying to recruit to learn more about them so you can personalize your approach and earn a response. If you don’t take the time to research the people you’re reaching out to and presumably trying to recruit with personalized messages you’re lazy and/or you simply don’t care.
  18. Ain’t nobody got time for that
  19. Ideal Recruiting/Sales Process 5 Steps to Recruiting (or Sales) Success 1. Developing the relationship 2. Creating/Identifying the need 3. Preventing/overcoming objections 4. Filling the need/providing benefits 5. Advance/close the sale Source: 5 Steps to Recruiting (or Sales) Success
  20.  Most Recruiter Messaging 1. Filling the need/providing benefits 2. Developing the relationship 3. Creating/Identifying the need 4. Preventing/overcoming objections 5. Advance/close the sale Unfortunate Reality When you reach out to potential candidates leading with specific job descriptions, you’re completely fouling the recruiting/sales process up
  21. Leading with a job opportunity is beginning at step 4 of the sales process – filling the need/providing benefits: • “Would you like this drink?”
  22. Start with step 1 of the sales process – develop the relationship: • “How are you today? Are you thirsty? What can I get you?”
  23.  “Unexpected ideas are more likely to stick because surprise makes us pay attention and think. The most basic way to get someone’s attention is to break a pattern. Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns. Consistent sensory simulation makes us tune out.” – Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick
  24. What people want to know first Source: 2015 LinkedIn Talent Trends Survey of over 20,000 fully employed workers in 29 countries
  25. What developers want Source: 2015 Stack Overflow Careers Global Developer Hiring Landscape  26,086 developers from 157 countries were surveyed While money is always important, most people really want to know what they’d be doing/working on.
  26. To really get someone’s attention, break the pattern of most recruiters by not leading with a job opportunity and answering their questions in your first messages. Instead, ask questions, starting off by finding out what they want.
  27. A little mystery goes a long way…
  28. In 1994, George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, provided the most comprehensive account of situational interest. It is surprisingly simple. Curiosity, he says, happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge. Loewenstein argues that gaps cause pain. When we want to know something but don’t, it’s like having an itch that we need to scratch. To take away the pain, we need to fill the knowledge gap. One important implication of the gap theory is that we need to open gaps before we close them. Our tendency is to tell people the facts. – Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick
  29. Create Knowledge GapsWhen initially reaching out to someone, focus specifically on why you’re reaching out to them, which isn’t the opening you’re recruiting for, but their specific experience – why else did you find and decide to contact them? They know you’re a recruiter, and if you’ve been very specific as to what it was about them that made you reach out but you don’t share any job specifics, you’ve created a knowledge gap. Because of your specificity you imply that you have something relevant for them. To close the knowledge gap they have to respond to find out about the opportunity you have in mind.
  30. The basic architecture of the brain ensures that we feel first and think second. – Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux Source & suggested reading: Start With Why, Simon Sinek Because of this, it is critical that you leverage human nature (emotions) in your messaging/outreach efforts….
  31. Suggested reading: Start With Why, Simon Sinek What’s your why?
  32. Emotional content works best! IPA dataBANK (the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) contains 1400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns submitted for the IPA Effectiveness Award competition over the last three decades. Campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) with only rational content, and those that were purely emotional did a little better (31% vs 26%) those that mixed emotional and rational content. Source: Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley Neuromarketing Somewhat counterintuitively, content which combined both rational and emotional elements did not perform best!
  33. Ads (messages) that engage people emotionally work better than those that don’t. If you can leverage amusement and generate interest and surprise, you will likely earn a response. Source: Fractl – The Emotions of Highly Viral Content Neuromarketing One of my favorite memes
  34. Humor & Surprise “In an experiment by O’Quinn and Aronoff, participants were assigned to “buyer” and “seller” roles and asked to negotiate the price of a painting. Half of the sellers received instructions to use the line “my final offer is $_, …and I’ll throw in a pet frog.” This led to relaxation, smiles, and increased compliance, with buyers agreeing to pay significantly more money than when the frog joke was not used. What it means: When you make someone smile, they relax. Humor can help break down objections and win over an otherwise unreceptive audience. Here’s an example of how breaking the ice can earn you replies:” While this example is sales related, I manage a team that leverages humor to great effect when reaching out to high demand/low supply talent. Ultimately, people are people – it doesn’t matter if you’re selling to or trying to recruit them. Source: Yesware blog – Emails that get replies
  35. Source – “Charles Darwin…developed the Facial Feedback Response Theory, which suggests that the act of smiling actually makes us feel better (rather than smiling being merely a result of feeling good).” Facial feedback modifies the neural processing of emotional content in the brain, in a way that helps us feel better when we smile. Smiling stimulates our brain reward mechanism in a way that even chocolate — a well-regarded pleasure inducer — cannot match. British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.”
  36. Make Them Smile How do you want people to feel when reading or listening to your messages? If you can make someone smile when reading/hearing your messaging, you’ve made them feel good. If people feel good when reading/listening to your messages, you are more likely to earn a response. Why do you think so much humor is used in advertising? Because it works!
  37. Take Your Job Seriously, But Not Yourself While some may think it’s silly, unprofessional or simply doesn’t work, using humor & jokes (including Chuck Norris references), poetry/haiku’s, memes, non sequiturs, etc., have all worked quite well for me and my teams. We keep track of and celebrate all of the complimentary responses we get from people. You might be surprised to learn some people even respond in kind (jokes, poetry, etc.). But then again, you shouldn’t be. Why not?
  38. Don’t Be Tarzan If your initial outreach is focused more on getting someone’s attention and engaging them as a person rather than a recruiter reaching out with a job, you’ll get a more human and unguarded response. Remember, most people are open to making a change, but they aren’t taking any action to do so, and they don’t NEED to make a change. Why be surprised by low response rates from passive talent when you reach out about a job?
  39. Luckily, I had this moment of clarity within the first 3 months of my job as a recruiter
  40. Surprise gets our attention. Surprise makes us want to find an answer – to resolve the question of why we were surprised. If we want to motivate people to pay attention, we should seize the power of big surprises. – Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick
  41. No Surprises Here Source – TalentBin Email inbox screenshots from actual developers Mentioning opening, job, career, opportunities, required, urgent, requirement, etc. will only serve to make your emails blend in with all of the other emails mentioning the same. You’re only contributing to the noise.
  42. Subject Line Surprises Your subject lines do NOT have to mention anything about jobs, opportunities, titles, etc. One study found that 33% of email recipients opened emails based on the subject line alone 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate. You’ve presumably spent some time and energy finding the people you’d like to connect with – to not engineer the highest probability of a response would be a massive waste. Source: Hubspot
  43. I was working with a recruiter who was having difficulty getting Scrum Masters to respond. After performing a few minutes of research online, I suggested the recruiter use the subject line of “Pigs and Chickens.” (see the cartoon on the right) Scrum Masters are easy to find so they get flooded by recruiter spam. I was pretty sure they would be surprised to see a subject line of “Pigs and Chickens” – I knew it would not only stand out, but that they would likely appreciate the relevance. I was right.  Unexpected & Relevant Source: Implementing Scrum Simply Googling Scrum Master yields all sorts of funny and relevant content you could use to surprise potential candidates
  44. I recently received this InMail from a recruiter. I do mention Spotfire once on my profile, but I am clearly not a Spotfire consultant and I live in Florida, not Canada. This is a classic case of a “blast” messaging effort whereby practically anyone showing up in the search results gets a message. What do you think my opinion of this recruiter and his company is?
  45. Nothing makes you feel more special than when you get an email from a recruiter because you happen to mention the keywords they were searching for.  Don’t send emails like this!
  46. Even if you’re not an agency recruiter, the message above is quite clear, and it applies to all people, not just technical professionals. I recently wrote an article on how NOT to ask for referrals – specifically not asking in your first attempt to contact someone. Your first attempt should be solely about the person you’re interested in recruiting – not about being passed along to their colleagues. If they don’t respond to your initial attempt, you can (and should) follow up, and if they don’t respond to your second attempt, politely request that since they presumably aren’t interested, they forward your contact information to anyone they know that might be interested in taking the next step in their career and learning more about the opportunity you originally contacted them about. Don’t Ask For Referrals in Your First Contact Attempt Source – How to Make Technical Professionals Not Hate Your Guts – A Guide For Technical Recruiters
  47. Energy and persistence conquer all things. – Benjamin Franklin
  48. Source – Yesware If you give up after your first attempt, you’re not really doing your job as a recruiter to recruit people. Persistence pays, and studies have shown that most people will respond if you simply follow up.
  49. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. – Thomas Edison Most recruiters use the same tired old email over and over for years without ever trying anything new. Experiment, experiment, experiment! Try multiple messaging approaches and measure the results (A/B testing) to discover new and more effective approaches.
  50. Leverage Data Source: Yesware study, 500K sales emails Source: Constant Contact Source: Science of Email by Hubspot and Litmus – 6.4M emails studied
  51. Use Images
  52. Keep Mobile in Mind Source: Litmus 40% of emails are opened on mobile 1st, predominantly on phones. Keep this in mind when generating your messages to potential candidates as people will make quick judgments to delete or respond based on what they can initially see on their mobile device..
  53. Candidate personas are fictional, generalized representations of your target talent, divided into unique segments that group current situations, what they do, goals (what they want to accomplish), motivations and attitudes into groups. Personas can: • Help you better understand and relate to the people you are trying to source & recruit as human beings and not just potential candidates • Allow you to strategically tailor your approach & messaging content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of each persona to increase response Leverage Candidate Personas Adapted from Hubspot and Krux SMB Source:
  54. Start From the Bottom Nearly everyone processes results from the top down. People at the top of search results are there primarily due to keyword frequency – which has nothing to do with how good they are/how strong of a potential candidate they might be. People at the top of search results get messaged by everyone and it can be very difficult to be the signal amongst the noise and earn a response. People past the top 10% – 20% of results are seldom even reviewed, let alone messaged, allowing you to be one of a few messages or even the only one, often yielding higher response rates. Last page of 758 results and this woman looks awesome!
  55. • Be human! • Start with why • Do not blast – personalize your messaging • Gather additional info through other social sites • Develop an arsenal of (anti)templates you can customize/personalize • Leverage empathy & perspective! Key Takeaways
  56. Key Takeaways • Get creative with your subject lines and content – experiment! • Use humor and surprise and leverage knowledge gaps • Develop personas for your target talent pool • Capture and celebrate successes • Perform your own 5 why exercise specific for your team/company • Read Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking
  57. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
  58. Be Human

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