Recruiting via Linkedin: Send The Right Message!

When first reaching out to a prospective candidate on Linkedin, a recruiter should follow certain guidelines. If you’re sending an invitation, rather than an inmail message, avoid the standard template provided by Linkedin. This is boring, impersonal and will get you nowhere! It’s important to keep your original communication concise, compelling, and inviting. What do I mean by this?

As succinctly as possible, introduce yourself and explain there’s a hiring need at this organization for a . If the opportunity is at your company, then say so, since this should be transparent. However, if you’re recruiting for a client (as do most search firms) or a portfolio company (as I do in corporate venture capital), then sometimes it’s better to only mention the type of company and where they’re located. There are two reasons for this. Sometimes the search is confidential and the company name should only be revealed among those genuinely interested in pursuing the opportunity. Other times, by leaving out the company name, you create a sense of curiosity in the prospective candidate. By human nature, when information is omitted, we want to find out more, which engages the candidate further and develops in them a greater interest for the role.

Brevity is key in your first communication. You don’t want to inundate the prospective candidate with information. If they’re not interested, they’ll despise you for it. If they’re somewhat interested, they’ll probably be turned off with your “spam”. By keeping it short and sweet, not only is it less pushy and more presentable overall, but most importantly, you also prompt the prospect to ask questions and get more involved in the process. Besides, at least in an invitation, Linkedin limits you to 300 characters anyway, so you’re forced to KISS.

Once you’ve introduced yourself and explained the hiring need, ask the prospective candidate if they’re interested in either networking or learning more about the role. This low-pressure approach yields tremendous results. By giving them the option to network, you’re not demanding a yes/no answer for whether they want to be considered. Instead, you’re simply saying “let’s connect, so we can establish a relationship either now or down the road”. You’re also putting the ball in their court, letting them decide if they’d like to learn more about the position, refer someone from their own network, keep in touch, or do nothing at all. I’ve found that in venture capital and start-ups, few people opt to do nothing.

If the candidate is interested – great! If not, be patient as they may provide you with a referral and/or send you a resume anyway in hopes of being considered in the future when the timing is better. Obviously as a recruiter, you’d like to have as many qualified candidates as possible from which to choose. As we’re aware, when someone accepts your Linkedin invite, unless they’ve changed their settings, you have full access to view their connections. Be ethical and avoid biting the hand that feeds. This candidate has already trusted you by allowing you to join their network. The last thing you need to do is diminish his/her chances of getting the job by recruiting someone from their very own network.

So I digress! Here’s an example of what an effective first message might look like:

Hi Felix,

I’m a recruiter for OpenView Venture Partners. One of our portfolio companies that specializes in data storage needs a Marketing Analyst to join their team. I came across your profile and I wanted to see if you’d be interested in networking or learning more about the opportunity. I look forward to connecting with you.

There are several resources out on the web that can enrich one’s education in Linkedin recruitment and best practices beyond the crucial first message. Stay tuned for some follow-up blog postings!

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Victor Mahillon
Victor Mahillon
Director of Recruiting

Victor Mahillon is the Director of Recruiting at Kamcord. Previously he was a Talent manager at OpenView.
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