Recruiting Basics: Communicating with Candidates on LinkedIn

In parts one and two of this article series, we’ve highlighted the basics of using your free LinkedIn® account to recruit top talent. Today’s focus will be on communicating with candidates after you’ve completed your LinkedIn search.


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In the webinar Free LinkedIn Recruiting Tools: Yield More Qualified Interviews Using Ideal Search Strings, Calendar & Text Expander Tools, and More, LinkedIn expert Brynne Tillman, discusses the ins and outs of communicating with candidates you’ve found via a LinkedIn search. Recruiting can be tough, but fortunately using LinkedIn makes it easy because you’re able to view a candidates’ “likes” and “dislikes” to get the conversation started.

Leverage All Your ‘Friends’ First

Once you’ve conducted your search query—see part two for how to go about searching—it’s time to start reaching out to possible candidates. According to Tillman, start with the first-degree connections and open a dialogue of communication.
Side note: LinkedIn sorts connections like six degrees of separation, meaning, your first-degree connections are people you know personally; your second-degree connections are friends of your first-degree connections; and third-degree connections are people who are connected to your second-degree connections—basically, friends of friends of friends (say that three times fast)!
Tillman suggests reaching out to your first-degree candidates to see if they are open to a new position, or if they can recommend someone they know for the position you’re recruiting for. Tillman offers this sample language as a way to get the conversation rolling:

Hope this finds you well. We have been connected on LinkedIn for some time and I thought I’d reach out and formally introduce myself. I notice you are TITLE at COMPANY and wondered if you’d be open to a quick conversation. We are looking for a new TITLE to run XX and thought, based on your profile, that you could potentially be a great fit.

I don’t know if you are currently exploring opportunities, but I believe a 15-minute call would be well worth your time. I am flexible after hours and on the weekends; let me know what works best for you.

Tillman says—when reaching out to candidates on LinkedIn, no matter what his or her connection is to you—don’t be vague in initiating the conversation. For example, don’t say “Name, are you or anyone that you know interested in XX position?” Tillman advises to customize the message.

Customization Is Key

At RecruitCon 2018, Angie Verros, Founder of Vaia Talent, offered tips on creating compelling candidate communications. Verros, who is a huge Duran Duran fan, says to find something unique about the candidate to open the lines of communication. Verros shared communications she had received as a way to drive this point further home.
For example, one message she received used Duran Duran lyrics as a way to capture her attention; it read, “I’m on the hunt. I’m after you. ? Great speech today at the conference.”  By using these customized messages, not only are you getting the candidate’s attention, you’re also showing him or her that you took the time to read through his or her profile.
Tillman says once you’ve exhausted your first-degree connections, it’s time to move on to the second-degree connections that appeared in your search query. The only downside to the free LinkedIn version is that you’re limited in the amount of “InMail” communications you can send to people who aren’t in your network. This is why it’s so important to make a meaningful attempt to start.
According to LinkedIn, “You receive a specific number of InMail credits based on your subscription type.… InMail messages can have up to 200 characters in the subject line and up to 2,000 characters in the body. You must enter something in the subject line before you’re able to send the InMail.”

Connecting with Your Friends’ ‘Friends’

Fortunately, you can still “connect” with people outside of your network, and LinkedIn encourages you to send a short note when you attempt to connect with these new people. Tillman suggests introducing yourself when you first connect and then after the connection has been made; that’s when you pitch the job you’re recruiting for.
“Let the candidate reject you first,” advises Tillman. After the candidate says he or she is not interested in the position, you can then ask him or her to recommend someone he or she may know who is a good fit for the role. Tillman also suggests leveraging your company’s current workforce and taking advantage of the “employee referral program” to help recruit new talent. Chances are, your current workforce is connected to like-minded individuals who share the same values and work ethics your current workers have, making it a win-win for all parties involved.
For more tips on how to use the free version of LinkedIn, check out Tillman’s webinar on demand, here.