Killer bagels and Yankee tickets: Why hyper-personalized recruiting works

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Apr 19, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

A new barrier has emerged in outbound recruiting. It’s a virtual version of the “No Solicitations” sign that effectively says “No Recruiters.” This adverse situation is making outbound sourcing efforts more challenging.

How many times has your recruiting team received no response from any job candidates in a week? Or only one lucky recruiter hears back from a single job candidate? There is just too much noise – too many recruiters chasing too few qualified candidates. It will only get worse unless company leaders pay attention and make changes to recruiter behavior.

At Indeed, we took a data-driven approach to solving this problem. Based on our research, we know recruiters can increase response rates from 25% to as high as 33% by following very basic outreach best practices.
We wondered what would happen if we took those practices a step further.

The result was a new practice we are calling “hyper-personalization.”
We adjusted our outbound sourcing approach, one email at a time. Our experiment – which involved hyper-personalizing each outreach email and an average of 15 minutes per email – took two weeks and 62 emails.

The results surprised even the most optimistic among us. We received 62 replies – a 100 percent response rate. Not only that but 100 percent of those replies were what we would classify as “favorable.” And over half were interested in learning more about job opportunities at Indeed.

Here is our recipe for writing hyper-personalized outreach emails:

Join their conversation – Find a common thread in a potential candidate’s public persona and hop in on the conversation. People who put themselves out there on in the public domain appreciate engagement. For example, one potential candidate said online that he’d kill for a good bagel and our recruiter responded, “Do we have Killer bagels here? Indeed, we do.”

Surprise them – Don’t give them what they expect from a recruiter. Send an email that shows you took the time to look at their profile and tailored your inquiry directly to them. For example, one potential candidate replied: “For your time and effort I would love to share 15 minutes of my time because it probably took you longer than 15 minutes to research and write this email.”

Convey the opportunity, not the job – Toss the job description from the email. First, try to understand what the potential candidate enjoys. A career and company discussion can follow. For example, some of our recruiters’ emails began with “We’re curious to know what you love about what you do,” or “Your open source project seems quite interesting.”

In the words of one hyper-personalized email recipient, the key is to say enough, but not too much, to create interest. Make the outreach email compelling, engaging, personalized and simple.

Hyper-personalization works by improving response rates at the top of the outbound recruiting funnel. Ultimately, higher response rates save time – yes, we did the math – and preserve the brand because candidates don’t feel spammed by recruiters.

In our experiment, hyper-personalization even benefited our recruiters. Besides a lot of respect and admiration from potential candidates, some even received job offers themselves and one got an open invitation for complimentary Yankee tickets while in New York. How cool is that?

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