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Jan 25, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

It seems, at times, that those of us in the recruiting profession can be slow to catch on to trends or common sense norms. It’s not something that is unique to only this industry, and it likely has more to do with the void of common sense in the world, more than it has to do with any particular industry.

One of the great mysteries of mankind is the omnipresent deficit of common sense when it comes to contacting candidates for the first time. For social creatures who have spent decades interacting with other humans, the basics of beginning a dialogue seem to evade many recruiters. And that inability to do so effectively has made the term recruiter anathema to many in-demand candidates in the market.

But the beautiful part of being cognizant humans is that we can learn and change our behavior. We can be better than we are today when we reach out to a candidate. In fact, we have to be, if we want to remain relevant. Because, you know, the AI robots are coming to take our jobs and stuff.

Here are a few things to remember before you hit send next time:

  1. What’s In A Name

Sourcers and recruiters alike spend copious amounts of time researching candidates. We’re looking for the right mix of skill sets, the level of experience, and Github repos. And though we spend all the time vulturing around their profiles, we still manage to butcher their names or use a shortening of the name as a way to make it more “personalized.” How do you know Sriram likes to be called “Sri” or that James lets anyone but his aunt Tilly call him “Jimmy?” You don’t, so when you are looking at all those profiles and websites where the candidate has a presence, don’t assume. Rather, take an extra minute to see how they identify themselves.

  1. It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere

Just because you’re up and at it by 7 am each day, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person you are trying to reach is. When you call someone, especially if it’s a cold or unscheduled call, you should be acutely aware of what time zone your candidate is in. The same rule applies for future communications, and particularly when you schedule a screening call with someone. Make sure you are clear about what time zone you are referring to in the body of your email. The person you’re trying to reach will appreciate you respecting them enough not to awaken them at the legendarily evil 5 am hour.

Not sure? Google the time zone, or use this handy tool.

  1. Keep It Short and Sweet 

While the goal of reaching out to a candidate is to intrigue them enough to respond back to you (hopefully in a positive way), you need to be aware of how much content is in these emails you are sending. There’s no reason to send what equates to a recruiting manifesto in an email. Include a link to the job you’re interested in them for, but transcribing it in the message is plain overkill.

Get to the point of why you are reaching out to them quickly in the message. Many people are reading these on the go, or at work, and can’t devote a chunk of time reading the drivel your HR department spit out in Word.

  1. No More Name Calling

We need to stop this. Seriously. This quixotic fixation with calling candidates “gurus,” “ninjas” or anything else that even falls in this realm is mind-boggling. Keep in mind that in many cases; these are people you have never met. Throw “thought leader” in this mix of banned names, just because that one is bunk too.

This logic applies to other grandiose labels we project onto the object of our recruiting desires, such as telling someone they are “perfect for this role.” If you can tell that from a Snapchat or Tinder* profile, then you’re probably blowing it wasting your time in recruiting. I magic show at the Wynn in Vegas beckons, my friend.

*(If you are sourcing and recruiting on Tinder, please contact me. I want to interview you. Seriously.)

  1. Have A Call To Action In The Email

After you’ve spent an enormous amount of time trying to identify and reach out to a candidate, make sure they know what to do with your message. You might want to ask them to respond even if they aren’t interested. Not that this will work all the time, but there’s something to be said for taking the first steps in initiating a long-term dialogue. We all know that what is not a fit today, could be tomorrow.

Whatever you do, for the love of everything holy, don’t just blast them a job and instruct them to apply at the link if they are interested. It’s cold, and screams “mass email.”


Your Daily Moment Of Zen

These are essential tenets of recruiting. These are the things that should be part of training for all recruiters and sourcers. We’re constantly looking for ways to personalize, and we’re likely all guilty of jumping at the flashiest new tool to help us do our job at one time or another. In doing so, we often look past the things that mean the most in that first interaction.

Take a minute to take a proverbial look in the mirror next time before you hit send, and make sure you have those basic tenets down.


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.