I remember when I first got access to LinkedIn Recruiter. I logged in to the tool and immediately something caught my eye… “Inmail credits: 17,148 remaining.” What!? This was a Sourcers dream! I immediately put together a template and started sending out the same inmail to dozens and dozens of candidates who I thought could be a fit for my Java Developer role.
A few weeks later I was playing around and came across a report called Inmail Analytics. I pulled it up and saw that it listed all of the inmail response rates for everyone who worked at my company. I started scrolling to find my name to see how fabulous my response rate was. I was on a roll sending out these inmails by using the easy-to-create templates; surely I had one of the highest. Then I saw it…Kerri Mills – 16% response rate.
I was shocked. I knew I wasn’t getting a ton of response back, but 16%, really!? I sat there for hours, trying to figure out what was going on and why I was at the bottom of the totem pole compared to a lot of my colleagues.
I’d like to tell you I figured out the secret later that day and instantly increased my percentage - sadly that is not the case, and for a while I went on doing the same ole thing, sending the same generic message, teetering around a 15-20% response rate.
Fast forward to today…while I still have progress to make, I am much more proud of the 56% I am at and have been right around there for almost a year now. It’s taken months of training and practicing, but I finally have a solid grasp on some of the top things you must do to increase your response rate.
First and foremost, you must personalize every inmail you send. I know what you are thinking – “but that defeats the purpose of creating templates and saving me time!” You can still create a template to include some general information (like who you are and contact information), but you must make sure to add a personalized note to every message you send. LinkedIn now let’s you write the inmail while simultaneously viewing the person’s profile. This allows you to scroll through and find something you can point out about the person – a common connection, a shared school mascot, anything! If you can’t find a commonality, find a certification, a project or a bullet from their profile that attracted you to them in the first place. As long as the person can tell that you took the time to actually read their page, they will feel more obliged to take the time to respond to you, even if they aren’t interested right now.
Keep your message short and sweet. When I first started sending inmails, I included everything possible about the job, the company, and the department. No one wants to read a short novel when they open up a new message. You have about five seconds to grab and hold their attention; if the inmail is more than a short paragraph or two, chances are they are not going to have time to read it then, and probably won’t end up coming back to it. Make sure to keep your message around 500-600 characters tops, and only share your main reason for reaching out along with a personalized line or two and your contact information. In the case of sending inmails, less is always more!
Give the person a reason to respond. If someone approached you with an opportunity that was evidently better than what you were doing now, wouldn’t you at least be tempted to listen? No one wants to talk about a new position that is lateral or less than where they are currently at, and you need to show them that you are reaching out because you have something that could benefit them. Lou Adler wrote a great article last year where he shared a fantastic question to ask when reaching out to candidates – “Would you be open to exploring a position if it were clearly superior to what you’re doing today?” While it won’t work for every person, a simple question like this will certainly pique the interest of more people than not.
Back in August, LinkedIn implemented a new rule that if your response rate drops lower than 13 percent, you will only be able to send one-to-one InMails for a 14-day period. They clearly recognize that spamming candidates has become a problem, and I strongly recommend monitoring your results and challenging yourself to increase your response rate. It will take some time to improve, but once you start seeing the increased results, I am confident you will see that taking the extra few minutes to tailor each message you send is worth it.