Job searching is no easy feat. In fact, many say searching for a job is a full-time job in itself. You’re spending hours networking like crazy and seeking out relevant industry recruiters on LinkedIn, messaging them in the hope they will respond and offer you their available jobs to apply for.
Your introductory message needs to really stand out from the crowd.. but how do you do that?
Fast Company asked five recruiters which types of messages—via email and LinkedIn alike—make them hit the “delete” button, and which ones they actually respond to. Here’s what they said.
WHAT THEY IGNORE
Do your homework, if you can answer a question by doing 5 minutes of research into the company online then do it. Questions such as “Are you hiring?” “What jobs should I apply to?” “What’s the best way to apply?” are all straightforward questions that can be answered just by checking out a company’s careers page. If you pose an easy-to-answer question to a recruiter, it sends the message that you may not be willing to put in the effort needed to perform at their company.
Recruiters will also be put off by anything too generic. Don’t send off an obvious mass email—to a recruiter or anyone. While recruiters may rely on template emails themselves, this is all the more reason why they’ll spot yours is generic in a second.
Instead, do a little bit of research on the recruiter you’re contacting. Do you have any shared connections, alumni, or interests? “Personalised, tailored outreach with a warm intro is easier than ever with data at our fingertips,” LinkedIn’s VP for global talent acquisition Brendan Browne points out. That means there’s no excuse for errors. “I received a few recent ones saying, ‘Your experience at Google is impressive’—I never worked at Google.”
Show recruiters that you take networking seriously enough to deserve their attention. Ensure you check out their profile to see if they list the types of roles they recruit for (sales, tech, etc.) so you can target recruiters who do actually recruit for workers in your field.
When you reach out, always cover your personal info basics: Say who you are, where you work, and what you’re looking to do next.
Make sure you don’t write an essay: Be brief and get to the point. “The great messages that get my attention are short, sweet, convey genuine interest, and clearly connect their background to our hiring needs,” says Duo Security senior recruiter Jasmine Burns.
Pro tip: Adding hyperlinks lets you add more content and context without adding length.
WHAT THEY RESPOND TO
A clear objective, request, or call to action. Don’t be vague about why you’re connecting. On LinkedIn, it isn’t rude to send a connection request and then immediately follow up with an ask or a pitch as soon as it’s accepted. Same goes for email: Include a call to action in your very first message. Most recruiters are turned off by vague messages – get straight to the point and be clear about why you’re getting in touch and what you hope to gain from connecting.
If you include awards or accolades on your LinkedIn profile, trust that recruiters will see them. Lead instead with your work and what you offer, otherwise it’ll sound like an oversell. As Lyst’s head of talent, Matt Buckland, says, “It’s important to maintain a calm certainty of your own skills and how they’ll benefit the company.” There’s a balance here, he explains: “Too modest and you risk sounding needy or desperate, too far in the other direction and you may sound arrogant.” So, stick to the facts. “Tell us what you did, how you did it, and what you learned. Your skills will become obvious, and you’ll sound measured and confident.”
Be personal, accurate, and specific with your messages. Be specific about the type of job you’re interested in (even if you haven’t spotted an opening for that precise role), and why you feel your background and experience would benefit the company. “I prefer [candidates being] very specific on parameters, such as why they’re interested in my company’s stage, location, and scope of job,” says Anna Ott, an HR expert at the incubator hub:raum.
Check your grammar and spelling. Your initial outreach is all a recruiter may have to make an initial assessment of you. That means typos, punctuation, and grammar matter. This shouldn’t really need saying, but recruiters say they encounter basic writing errors all the time. So, take a moment to perfect your message. Proofread it twice— ask a friend to give it the once over —because you probably only have one shot to make a great impression and to ensure they don’t hit delete.
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