The amazing thing about LinkedIn is that it allows you to connect one-on-one with nearly anyone in the world.
This has sadly led to the LinkedIn InMail becoming one of the most abused forms of communication.
Sadly, a few recruiters have ruined it for everyone else. Candidates almost expect unsolicited InMails to be untargeted and spammy. As a result, candidates are no longer interested in the majority of your messages. In fact, your InMails might even be seriously damaging your brand.
Here are 10 LinkedIn InMail tips, and questions to ask yourself, that can help send your response rates through the roof:
1. Why are you sending the InMail in the first place?
When you reach out to a candidate you don’t know, the goal should be to start a conversation. They probably don’t know who you are, and you’re trying to convince them why they should spend time talking to you.
This means you can’t just go in all guns blazing talking about your “opportunity.” You have to make a connection first.
Think about how receptive you are when you get a sales email out of the blue, that’s pitching a product you’ve never heard of. You don’t know anything about the company, or the salesman, and you don’t know how they got your email. In this situation, how likely are you to reply? Would even open the message?
And keep in mind that you’re not going to seal the deal with your first message. It can be the first step towards making a great new hire — but if you get it wrong, it can be hugely damaging to your brand.
The aim should be to find out about the candidate’s career path and goals, to introduce yourself, and tell the candidate why you’re messaging them. These are the only KPIs at this stage.
When you find out a little more about their motivations, you can adapt your job pitch to better fit their motivations and increase your chances of success.
2. Write an InMail Subject line that doesn’t suck
As many as 35% of people will only open your message if the subject line resonates with them. Get this step wrong, and the candidate will never see your carefully crafted message.
You need to strike a delicate balance between personal, and attention grabbing. Avoid generic subject lines like: “Job Opportunity at [Company]” or “New Role.” You can do better than that.
i) Keeping it personal
A personalized subject line is one of the easiest ways to convince a candidate that your message is just for them. The simplest way to do this? Just mention the candidate’s name. This alone can increase your open rates by as much as 29%.
A subject line formula that we’ve found particularly effective is: “[Candidate Name]: From [University or College] to [Company]?” This is how it might look if Beamery were trying to hire me again: “Ben: From Oxford University to Beamery?”
This subject line formula works particularly well because it shows that you’ve taken the time to research their education. Better still is mentioning a mutual connection in your subject line. This increases your chance of getting a response by as much as 27%.
The reason for this is simple. The candidate may not have heard of you, but by mentioning a friend, colleague or acquaintance in the subject line, you’re providing an endorsement of trust and giving them a reason to speak with you.
How much more likely are you to watch a film or visit a restaurant that a friend has endorsed? That seal of approval makes a huge difference in your decision-making process. You can tap into that same impulse to get more opens and replies by mentioning mutual connections in your LinkedIn InMails.
ii) Keeping it short and direct
InMail subject lines should be direct. You need to state exactly why the recipient should open the message in as few words as possible.
If you’re wondering how many words is ‘perfect’, take a look at these subject line lengths and their corresponding open and click rates from Litmus:
- 4-15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
- 16-27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
- 28-39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
- 40-50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
- 51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click
If you’re not sure about your subject line, here’s a tool that will let you test it for free.
3. Write a brief (and personal) greeting
There’s nothing worse than opening an InMail to be greeted with “Hey *FName*.” It’s the quickest way to guarantee a candidate will never open a message from you again.
Instead, start your LinkedIn message with a brief and personal greeting. Make sure that you mention the candidate’s name. Research studying brain activation shows that our brains light up when we hear (or read) our own name, and we’re more likely to pay attention to the message at hand.
We’ve also found that keeping it short and sweet works well: “Hey Ben, I loved your blog on ‘The 25 Best Interview Questions’ — interesting angle from the recruiter’s perspective.”
This might be a good way to get my attention. It shows how you know me, that you’ve done a little research, and that you’ve taken the time to make your greeting personal.
4. Include a brief introduction
If you bumped into your candidate on the street, would you just launch into a pitch? It would be pretty strange if you did...
You don’t need to tell them your life story, but you do need to make sure the candidate knows who they’re talking to. You should include your name, title, and a one-liner on your company or agency.
Try something simple like: “I’m Ben Slater, VP of Marketing at Beamery (an all-in-one talent lifecycle management platform).”
You can’t assume that a candidate will click on your profile to find out more. They might, but people are busy and you are not their number one priority.
It’s always better to respect their time and minimize the ‘work’ that they have to do.
5. What is your goal?
The most important LinkedIn InMail tip of all, is that your message needs to have a goal. Why are you sending the message in the first place? This is the part where you ‘get down to business' — concisely stating why you’ve sent your InMail (remember that the “why” can just be that you were looking to connect).
What is more likely, though, is that you have a very specific goal in mind. For example, you’re messaging with the hope of filling an open role. If your goal is specific, make sure you get right to the point in your message.
It can be beneficial to not include the job link in your first email, as it helps your message come across as more personal and less transactional. Consider testing both approaches to see what works best for you.
One thing to remember when you’re setting your goal — messages without job links where you’re just trying to introduce yourself to a candidate, generally work pretty well. Not many recruiters use this method, so it’s an easy way to stand out from the crowd.
6. Making your pitch persuasive and personal
Persuasion and personalization are the keys to achieving your goals — without them, you’ve got little hope.
Candidates should feel like your InMail has been written for their eyes only, not that you’ve just sent them your company’s generic recruiting template.
Let’s look at ways that you can pitch your new opportunity effectively:
i) Personalizing messages for candidates
The messages that stand out nowadays are the ones that use ‘excessive personalization.’ Candidates receive so many generic messages, that going above and beyond with your personalization is the best way to stand out.
Make sure you reference a few unique details from their LinkedIn profile if you want to stand out even more. There are no rules on what you should reference. You can mention anything from employment to education, and from mutual connections to shared interests.
Here’s an example:
If you’re interested in more InMail personalization tips, explore a few creative ways that you can personalize your messages.
ii) Persuading candidates
Want to know the simplest persuasion technique in the book? It’s something you might even be doing already… Just explain why the job could be beneficial for the candidate.
Candidates want to know how you can help their career progression, boost their income, and improve their reputation. If you feel that your role might be able to do that, be sure that you make it clear.
7. Always be closing
Closing is not just for sales emails — one of the biggest mistakes we see recruiters make in their InMails is a weak close.
The most common closing line for recruiting messages is “Let me know if you’re interested.” This might be polite, but it is not the best way to get responses (remember, getting a response was the reason that you’ve sent the message in the first place).
To get candidates to hit ‘reply’ you need to provide a specific call-to-action. Candidates are busy —they can easily forget to reply, and they might not have time to think about how to respond.
Try a close like: “Can you take a call at 5:00 pm to discuss this further?” or “How about a quick chat tomorrow at 1:30 pm?”
This makes the next step clear to candidates and should improve response rates — according to research by psychologist Robert Sutton, people are more responsive and willing to help if they’ve been given clear directions.
8. How to get your signature right
How to get a signature wrong: 5,000 social media buttons and a huge company logo.
How to get a signature right — your name, position, and company website so people can find out more about your organization. You can also include a link to your personal site if you have one.
Keep it basic, and let candidates know how they can find out more.
9. What is the best time to send your InMail?
This is more important than you think. If you hit peak email and LinkedIn “checking” times, your message is far more likely to get a response.
The best way to figure out your target candidate’s checking time is through trial and error. Try sending InMails at different times during the week and compare response rates.
That said, we’ve found that InMails sent on Tuesday mornings generally perform well. Candidates have had time to deal with the stress of Monday, are settling into the week, and are open to new tasks.
Surprisingly, Sunday evenings also work well — candidates are often preparing for the work week and looking through messages they may have missed.
10. Stay positive
The key to getting great results with LinkedIn InMails is making sure that you don’t let the lack of responses (or negative responses) get you down.
Not everyone is going to be interested, and it’s important to remember that (no matter how good your messages are), you’re likely going to hear ‘no’ more than ‘yes.’
Stay positive, and keep trying to send candidates personal messages about opportunities they might be interested in, and you should be alright.