Why I’m Not Replying to You

Young businessman hiding head in the sand

Last week I was thinking about Steve Levy. Now I know what you are thinking: “We all think about Steve from time to time, nothing special Sjamilla!” I know, but this time it was something that had Steve said in an interview on the #SocialRecruiting Show. Every single time I think about it I get a big smile on my face.

Here’s what Steve said:

“No, the Incas and the Mayans have culture, your company has something different!”

The reason that I was thinking about this was due to this one particular InMail (or InMauls like Steve calls them) that I received. I don’t want to bash or ‘hate on’ anyone – so while keeping as much of the original message intact as possible  (I had to rewrite parts of the message). It doesn’t matter, because you’ll probably recognize it anyway. It’s a generic message that we all receive (or even send) from time to time. Please see the message that I received below:

“Hi, Sjamilla,

My name is Jane, and I am a Sourcing Recruiter at a very big company. Currently, we are recruiting for an experienced tech recruiter to be part of our HQ in a city nearby.

Very big company’s name is the world’s #1 in a specific online area and the 3rd global in this and that, that offers a great international, innovative and flexible work environment, and inspiring company culture and huge opportunities for personal development as we continue to grow our teams. Since we are facing very unique times of transformation and progression at a very big company, tech recruitment is more important than ever, and that’s why we’re looking for the best talent out there!

Based on your experience, we think you could be a great potential fit for this role. If this is of interest to you, then please let me know if you’re available to discuss further details.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Jane Doe

Global Sourcer at a very big company.

I have an issue with this and similar messages. I want to share with you what popped into my mind while reading this message.

Before you continue to read, please note that these are MY thoughts. I don’t intend to hurt you, or anyone else by writing this, but I just want you to know why I don’t feel like you care about me, or your other candidates for that matter.

“Hi, Sjamilla,

My name is Jane, and I am a Sourcing Recruiter at a very big company. Currently, we are recruiting for an experienced tech recruiter to be part of our HQ in a city nearby.

  • Okay cool, you managed to get a job at a very cool company in a nice city, and you are looking for Tech Recruiters (like the rest of the world). Congrats to you! Why are you telling me this?

A very big company is the world’s #1 in specific online area and the 3rd global in this and that, that offers a great international, innovative and flexible work environment,

  • The place where I currently work is also international, innovative and flexible (like most tech companies claim to be).

and inspiring company culture and huge opportunities for personal development as we continue to grow our teams.

  • To be honest, this is where you really lost me: Inspiring company culture. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Do you have Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King Jr. walking around telling people how to live their lives?

Since we are facing very unique times of transformation and progression at a very big company, tech recruitment is more important than ever, and that’s why we’re looking for the best talent out there!

  • What part of your transformation is unique and why is tech recruitment in your company so important right now?
  • Why should I leave my current company, which I totally love ( forget about the fact that I’m currently a contractor and assume that I want to be employed again) to work at your company?  
  • Why do you think that I would make an impact? Which problems would I solve? Which challenges would I face?

Based on your experience, we think you could be a great potential fit for this role. If this is of interest to you, then please let me know if you’re available to discuss further details.

  • Who is ‘we’? Do you have multiple personalities? If so: fine – just explain who we are!
  • What experience of mine do you like? Based on ‘what’ do you actually think that I am a good match? Is it just because you read “recruiter” or “sourcer” in my job title or did you actually read about me and my achievements?
  • I assume it’s the former because if you did read anything about me, you would know how passionate I am about writing messages that show that I care.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Jane Doe

Global Sourcer at a very big company.”

Looking at this message I see three things that could use a quick fix:

Intro

  • This message starts with a recruiter telling me about them. While actually, this message isn’t about them, it’s about me – they want something from me. Nothing in the intro of this message shows that they know who I am or what I am doing.

Quick fix:

  • Make it about the person you are approaching, tell them why you are approaching them. What made you send the message that you are sending? Why should they take their valuable time reading what it is that you have to say? Show them that you know why you are approaching them and why they should continue reading. I would never start a message talking about myself, try to avoid starting any message with the word I.

Middle

  • This part starts with telling how great company X is. But why would I care, I probably already work at a great company. Then it continues with a lot of corporate buzzwords that could be replaced by any other word. It doesn’t tell me about what it is that the company is working on.

Quick fix:

  • Tell the candidate about the actual challenges and problems that someone has to fix in your company. As Steve said: Incas and Mayans have Culture, your company has something else. Sell them something else. People don’t base a life-changing decision based on ping pong tables and beers. They want to make an impact, work on something great and solve problems (at least I do!). Tell them why you think that their background/experience will help your company with the problems that you are facing. Combine what you have with something that they have – make it about them.

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  • This is the part that I would have liked to have seen in the first part of the email, a bit more into depth. Tell me what it is that you like about me, why do you think my experience fits your company? Sell me on why your company doesn’t survive without me (even if it does). People like to feel needed. Make it less of an option to say no. Give me clear instructions on what the next steps are.

Quick fix:

  • Make it actionable. Make it feel casual but using  “a bit of force” isn’t a bad thing. You could say something like: I would love to have a quick chat with you about this, how’s Thursday at 3 PM? Or I’d love to pick your brain on this, do any of these times next week suit you for a quick call with me? Also, make them feel like your life depends on their answer. I always say something like: “Whatever your answer is: I can’t wait to hear back from you” or “Curious about your thoughts on this, whatever they are: can’t wait to hear from you.”

Conclusion:

I think it’s good to keep in mind that as a recruiter or sourcer you represent a brand or a company. You are probably the first interaction that someone has with your company and that first impression counts, and it will last. How you approach people can completely change the way people see your company in a good, but potentially also in a very bad way.

This blog isn’t about this particular message I received. It’s about every template I (and you and all the hundreds of thousands of candidates all over the world) receive on a daily base. It’s about how I feel when I receive a message that doesn’t say anything, and it’s about how the people on the other side of the screen feel when they receive your message.

I want to feel like I am the only person in the world that can fix your problem (even when I’m not – in that case, I’ll have a look at my network and think of with you in the future).

I want to end with telling you what I would have sent Jane Doe:

Hi Jane Doe,

It looks like you are very passionate about recruitment and sourcing. I loved reading your blog on SourceCon, and I noticed that you spoke at Conference X about topic X. Your opinion about X inspired me and aligned with how I feel about the industry. Thank you for sharing!

I know that you work at COMPANY, and I also know that it’s probably going to be a challenge to grab your attention, but I couldn’t help myself by sending you this message anyway. If you never try you never know, right? ;).  

My name is Sjamilla, and I am very proud to work at company x. In the past few months team X has been working on Challenge Y. And they did an excellent job if I can say so myself ;). Currently, we are working on THIS CHALLENGE OR PROBLEM, and reading everything that you have been doing in period A-Z I can’t help thinking about how great it would be to have you on our team to help us solve this issue.

As you might have noticed, we love what you have been doing and I would be excited about picking your brain on this. Are you available for a 15-minute call with me on Thursday at 3 PM? If that doesn’t work for you, you can pick any time you want here: (link to schedule a quick call).

Whatever your answer is: I can’t wait to hear back from you!  

Cheers,

Sjamilla

  1. If you never heard of us before make sure to check this out (link to the company page, video or whatever it is that you like to sell your company with)

My style of messaging is very personal. I often get a response from people. Maybe it’s because of the companies I am working for or maybe because I mean every single word that I send. It doesn’t mean that my style will work for you. Try to find your style and send what you are comfortable with. I can’t guarantee that you will get a 100% reply rate by being personal but what I can tell you is that it’s more rewarding to get a reply on something that you mean and care about. People will know!

So the next time you send a message, I want you to think about the way that you would like to be approached and translate that into a message to your candidate. Think about what it is that made you interested in them and tell them!

Or as Katrina would say: #behuman.

I’m what you might call a self-taught sourcer. I started my career in recruitment in 2015 when I joined an agency. Actively approaching was new to them and also pretty new to me. So I started reading every blog I could find and by trial and error I can say I got fairly good at it. I also discovered there was a great network of smart sourcers out there sharing tips, good reads and tools. Throughout the years I developed my own sourcing style and I keep trying out new and different ways to find good people and most importantly engage with them. After the agency, I joined Blendle and I’m currently working at Poki, scaling their tech team.

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