Virtual recruitment on job boards or professional communities often involves the opportunity to contact qualified passive candidates with information about career opportunities. People with certain skills are in very high demand, and those who frequent professional forums are likely to be inundated with messages from recruiters and hiring managers. To catch and keep a passive candidate’s attention, the most important thing to do is send a compelling first message. This can help a recruiter stand out among the dozens of messages a good passive candidate is likely to receive and start the recruitment process off on the right foot.
Opening the Message
The key rule of opening a message is to place attention-getting information in the first sentence. It is perfectly acceptable to forgo an introduction, as the candidate will see who the message is from in the header and the signature. Though it has become a common practice for some, it’s not advisable for a recruiter to lie and tell a candidate they have colleagues or acquaintances in common. Of course, if mutual contacts do exist, that is great information to include in a message. Praise can also get a candidate’s attention, as long as a recruiter ensures it is specific rather than something like “Your qualifications are impressive.”
Personalize as Much as Possible
If it is possible to research a candidate’s background — for example, if he or she has a résumé posted on a job board — it is important to do so. Even if a résumé is not available, paying attention to forum posts and other online activity can give one an idea of a candidate’s background and skills. With this information, a job opportunity’s description should be tailored to a particular candidate. It is a good idea to connect the candidate’s experience to the duties of the position on offer, as well. If a candidate has experience in mid-level management and the job in question is an opportunity for advancement in that area, it is important to make this clear. It is also a great idea not to copy and paste a job description into a message. Instead, use the second person to describe what the position would entail. “You would be responsible for” is a much better formulation than “responsibilities include.”
If a candidate does not respond to a message within a few weeks, it is time to follow up. Recruiters should do so in a brief way, simply sending a few lines to say a message they sent some time ago may not have reached the candidate and repeating the information. One follow-up is sufficient; typically, if a candidate does not respond after that, they simply are not interested in the position.