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The Sourcing Function

5 Ways to Improve Your Outbound Effectiveness


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How do you approach outbound messaging? Are you in the “spray and pray” camp? Are you spending upwards of an hour crafting that perfect email only to find that it gets no response? We’ve spoken with hundreds of recruiters in the last year and have distilled what we’ve heard about what’s working into five tips:

Tip #1: “Go custom.”

If you’re sending form emails to people, the odds of success are low. It might even reflect poorly on your company’s brand. Many in-demand people get dozens or even hundreds of these messages every month. There’s nothing wrong with templates but there is a better way.

Going custom involves crafting an email that makes it looks at though you spent more than 30 seconds checking out the person who you’re contacting. You should plan to use some sort of tool that aggregates data across multiple sites (e.g. EnteloGistRapportiveXobni) to give yourself the best chance at standing out in the noise.

Tip #2: Multiple channels for maximum effectiveness.

For the vast majority of candidates, you can discover multiple routes to get to them. Perhaps you have an email address or a LinkedIn profile. Or maybe a phone number or even someone in your company knows the person. Here’s the important part: don’t just reach out to a candidate through one channel.

Different channels will have different levels of effectiveness for a given candidate. Some people will be very responsive on email because, after all, it’s email. But others won’t be because if they get an email from you, it might not be clear who you are immediately and it’s easier to just hit delete than to do that research. So a LinkedIn InMail might be more effective for that individual.

But no more than two channels! Otherwise you could just come off as stalker-ish.

Tip #3: Shorter is better.

Nowadays, a lot of email gets read on mobile devices. The longer the message, the more someone has to scroll. The more they have to scroll, the higher the likelihood they will just hit delete. Think about that when crafting your emails. How can you convey the most important information in the fewest number of words.

As much as possible, focus on the candidate. Many companies send over long missives about how awesome they are. Funding, accolades, metrics, etc. If you instead shift the focus back on the candidate (see Tip #1) you’ll find response rates improving.

Tip #4: Experiment with timing.

There are going to be better and worse times to send out messages to people depending on what industry you are sourcing in. When it comes to reaching busy executives, the best times tend to be before 9 AM (their local time of course) and after 5 PM on weekdays. Mondays and Fridays tend to be bad but weekends actually can be pretty good.

If you’re trying to reach out to engineers, think about when they are most likely to be responsive. A lot of engineers are night owls so reaching out to them late at night may actually work better in some circumstances. And if you don’t want to stay up late to send an email don’t worry, Outlook can be set to send emails at a certain time and if you’re using GMail, tools like Boomerang and Streak allow you to schedule emails to go out whenever you’d like.

Tip #5: Manage your outreach and interactions.

Most companies, and almost all startups, don’t do this well. They’ll send an email to a candidate and have no record of who they’ve reached out to and when. Then, a few months later they’re looking to fill a position and they come across a very promising candidate and the immediate thought is “Did I email this person already?”

What do you want to track? Track every time you send an email or make a phone call. If you get a response from the candidate, track that too. Pay particularly close attention to anything that might indicate future availability. For example, often a candidate will say something like “I’m good for now but might start looking for something at the end of the year.” That’s a perfect opportunity to set up a follow-up task to check in again in the future.

We hope these tips are helpful as you are reaching out to candidates. While the process of reaching out is never easy, it can be made easier with some simple adjustments to your workflow.

Jon Bischke is one of the founders of Entelo, a software platform that helps recruiters to better discover and interact with talented people on the basis of their online social activity. You can follow him on Twitter, check out his writing on the Entelo blog or contact him directly at jon@entelo.com.