Contacting Candidates

Contacting Candidates

The first point of contact is an important step in the recruitment process. Here’s what we’ve learned about making that initial introduction:

  1. Consider carefully who makes the first approach. Generally, candidates prefer to hear from CEOs, team leadership, and people who share their craft.2
  2. Don’t use people’s work email addresses unless you absolutely have to. Personal email is the best method of contacting a potential employee. You can find their email address using Chrome plugins like Connectifier, Connect6, Discoverly, Vibe and Sell Hack. (These change often so keep checking in with the Chrome Web Store to see the latest types of these tools.)
  3. Don’t cold call.Emailing lets the lead get back to you on her time. When was the last time you were overjoyed to get cold-called? We have better and more respectful ways to contact candidates now.
  4. Remember to expect a low return on your outreach, and don’t get discouraged.  Personal email has the best response rate but LinkedIn can be as low as 1 in 20 for responses.
  5. Always A/B test subject lines– these should make the receiver want to open your message.  Don’t just write “Java Developer Job” or something similar, because it probably won’t be opened.
  6. Personalise the message as much as you can. If the candidate feels you made no effort to engage why should they make an effort to respond? It’s good practise to put some ‘proof of work’ in the opening sentence – for example: “Hi Nick, I read your post on Medium and really  enjoyed it”. You want the candidate to know that your message isn’t a template, otherwise they will ignore it.
  7. Focus on the candidate; why does she interest you? Tell them how they can make a difference to your company.
  8. Unless you have a very specific role in mind, share the job descriptionlink rather than the text itself. This way, you’re starting the candidate on the path to discovering more about the company.
  9. Open a dialogue – stay in touch for the long term, if they respond with “seems interesting but not now…” ensure to add them to event invite lists.
  10. Keep a record of this outreach so that your team always appears organised and thoughtful. Sourcing and emails sent in this way can be tracked easily in an applicant tracking system like Workable.

How to organise leads and candidates

A lot of people will start the process using email folders and perhaps a Google doc to track conversations. This is fine at first but it isn’t scalable and often it will prove more time consuming to get good metrics hen recruiting in this way.

There are a number of software solutions that exist to help you recruit.  These applications will also give you a space separate from the interruptions of your inbox and give you some extra value like easy importing of contacts (no data entry), email tracking and recruitment metrics so you can measure the effectiveness of outreach and see if your team improves over time.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are the tools of a well oiled recruitment machine.  There are a lot to choose from – for example, GreenhouseResumatorLeverJobvite, or for the masochistic you can try Taleo.

The Forward Partners portfolio has had the best results with Workable. It’s both low cost and scalable with pricing based on your current number of roles.  It allows for simple import of your sourcing targets via a Chrome extension and will also allow you to build up a database of candidates – that great junior candidate you saw six months ago could be perfect for you now, your ATS will have her contact details and the feedback from her interviews with the email trail too, so no need to go mining in your inbox! Not bad.