Want to attract talent? It’s time to get personal

If you’re a recruiter or company looking to hire quality talent, it’s time to get personal and avoid some common mistakes.

As the founder of LocalSolo, a curated talent marketplace, I have visibility into both sides of the talent search, the curated talent on our platform, and the recruiters and companies who interact with them.  I’m also personally on both sides of the equation.

  1. I’m a working freelancer who has 20 years of being approached and hired by recruiters and companies.
  2. I’m a recruiter, engaged directly by our LocalSolo employer clients to find talent for them.

This provides me with a somewhat unique view of the entire talent and recruiter dance. I’m on both sides of the dance myself, and as the CEO of a recruiting platform, I facilitate others dancing as well.

From all of this, I’ve come up with considerable insight about how the majority of recruiters and companies approach high-end talent for the first time. And I have to tell you, most of the time they are doing it wrong,

Here are two big mistakes all recruiters and companies need to avoid when conducting talent outreach:

Mistake #1: Posting on Job Boards is not enough.  

The first mistake is that recruiters and companies post to job boards and that’s it, hoping and praying the right people see it and respond.  This may work for junior staff, but it’s not very effective for the in-demand roles.

Say you’re looking for a freelance react developer or hot UI designer for your client or your startup.  Who isn’t these days?  But do you really think a star developer or designer in San Francisco is sitting at home in his or her apartment looking at job boards because they can’t get work?   The answer of course is no, they don’t.  Why?  Because they don’t need to, the right work often comes to them.

These days, if you want top talent, you need to find them, and court them, directly. The best talent will often respond to effective personal direct outreach. They will check out the details in the job post you personally direct them to, but they may never see your job board post on their own. This is why the real power of LocalSolo is not our free job board, it’s the ability to quickly find the best candidates and send them personal messages.

Mistake #2: Not being personal with their outreach

The second major mistake is that recruiters and companies send the same outreach template to multiple people, a template they have obviously pasted into the message.  We’ve all gotten those long auto-template recruiter emails. Often the job isn’t even for our skill set, and their email marketing platform has sent the email based on keywords from their resume database, or from a web crawl. The platform thinks they are relevant to the talent, but in many cases, they aren’t as the automated system can’t pick up on the context of the keyword.

It’s a huge turnoff to get one of these long mass emails of course. Most of the time either the talent doesn’t respond at all, or instantly clicks the unsubscribe button.

But these emails must work to some degree, or else these companies wouldn’t employ such tactics.  But at what cost? The candidates who respond are likely not the best candidates, the number of unsubscribes will hurt their email score, and overall the reputation of the company will suffer.

So then there’s the honest recruiter who took the time to find say, 10 qualified people on LocalSolo or Linkedin. But they are strapped for time, so they send a short template email to those people.  I often receive something along the lines of:

“Hi there Mark!

I’m Julie from recruiting company X. I have an opportunity with a great company in Vancouver I would love to talk to you about. Can you let me know if you’re open to new opportunities at the moment?

Thanks!

Julie
Excellent Staffing”

Now on the surface that sounds ok right? But it’s actually almost as bad as sending one of those impersonal emails.

Why? Because while it’s a little more “personal,” it doesn’t show that Julie understands her target audience market at all. In fact, it mentions nothing about my skill set or the fact that I might truly be a good fit for the position. Instead, it just shows that Julie is fishing with a somewhat “personalized” template.

But since Julie is overwhelmed and busy, she won’t spend the time researching her target market and instead will try and hit as many qualified candidates as possible to meet her quota for the month. So her solution is to use this “personal” template, generate just enough good responses and consider her outreach a success. While this may help her avoid a high spam rate, she’s still missing the main issue of targeting the RIGHT talent for the job and getting the great responses back for her efforts.

So what works without sucking all of your time?

While Julie could stand to get more personal in her outreach, she’s actually not too far off from what we’ve found to be successful, which is simple personalization combined with a less formal approach. This shows that you are not just some automated robot AND doesn’t suck up all your time.

While it will take a little bit of time to set up, the payoff at the end will be worth it.

Here’s an example that we have used:

“Hi there Bob,

I’m Mark. I was cruising LocalSolo today on the hunt for an awesome Digital Project Manager. I found your profile and it seems perfect for what we’re looking for. I’m impressed with the “Company X” work in your portfolio.

So the gig I’m reaching out about is for a cool startup company in Gastown. I would love to introduce you to them as I think it might be a great fit. What do you think? Up for a quick chat to see if this might be the type of work you like to do?

Thanks!

Mark
LocalSolo CoFounder and Head Recruiter”

So you’ll notice a few things about this email:

First, I don’t mention right off that I work for a recruiting company. It’s a turnoff to many people, especially technical talent, and they may stop reading right there. But I do say I want to introduce Bob to the company. This implies I’m a third party recruiter, or at least someone who makes introductions, without shouting it out to the candidate. And, I also have it in my signature, which is the professional thing to do.

Second, note the informal language. You need to stand out from the automated recruiting emails when you’re going after the hard to lure high-end talent. Being informal helps set a nice friendly tone, and it makes the talent want to get back to you.

Third, mention something in the outreach that only applies to the candidate. See “Company X” in bold above. This shows the candidate it’s not a mass email, and that you are truly interested in just him or her. It doesn’t take much longer than sending the actual template if you’re already cutting and pasting, and your response will skyrocket. This is the key, the golden ticket.

Fourth, I’m ending with a question of “is this the type of work you might like to do?”  This is important as it shows them you care about their wants and needs. That alone can go along way. Even if they aren’t interested in your opportunity at the moment, they might tell you the situation they do like to work in.  This sets you up for future opportunities with this candidate.

Most high-end talented people are plenty busy. They want a recruiter or a company that cares about them enough to actually investigate their skill set and bring them the opportunities they want. Someone that’s a long term partner in their future success. Someone that’s human and likeable. Just a few small tweaks and one personalized comment in your normal outreach can go a long way.

So next time you are sitting down at your computer ready to post to the job board or draft your email to your next potential candidate, follow the tips outlined here. Start talking with your potential candidates.  Simple, yet effective.  If you don’t think you have enough time to do it, think of how much time your company is wasting because they can’t find the right staff.

Agree or disagree?  Have a recruiting outreach tip you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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