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7 Ways to Engage Candidates Instead of LinkedIn InMail

Back in 2002, LinkedIn turned the business world on its head. Almost overnight, it became possible to connect with just about any working professional, across any industry, from any location. With the advent of LinkedIn Recruiter and the InMail messaging system, recruiters could proactively target candidates, instead of passively waiting for candidates to find them. 

The years that followed produced a variety of spinoff recruiting platforms, but LinkedIn has remained one of the most popular—sometimes to the detriment of the recruiting industry.

Why should you stop relying on LinkedIn

Today, there are clear challenges that recruiters face when they rely solely on LinkedIn Recruiter. Some of those challenges include moderately low response rates (LinkedIn shared in 2015 that average response rates were 18-25%—which include “no” replies—and we haven’t found more recent rates published publicly). 

To make matters worse, LinkedIn penalizes recruiters who fail to meet a response rate threshold, as explained in its InMail Policy: “If you have a response rate of less than 13% over a 14-day period, you’ll receive a warning notification. For any subsequent breach of the 13% threshold, you may be placed in an InMail Improvement Period.”

On top of that, elite technical talent has largely grown weary of LinkedIn InMails, which often deliver more spam than actual enticing offers. The best players in the industry expect to be treated as such, and they prefer to be hand-picked.

LinkedIn also offers limited visibility into the overall candidate pool and job market as a whole—and these kinds of talent insights require a separate product. If you’re still using LinkedIn as your primary recruiting tool, it’s time to expand your horizons.

7 alternatives to LinkedIn InMail 

If you want best-in-class results, it’s time to embrace a new, multi-faceted recruiting strategy that stretches beyond the limited reach of LinkedIn. Leading-edge sourcing solutions like SeekOut’s talent intelligence platform enable recruiters to level-up to the status of a multifaceted talent advisor. This puts recruiters in a position to source smarter, focusing more on cultivating candidate relationships and contributing to more strategic workforce planning efforts.

Here are seven strategies that will reduce or eliminate your reliance on InMail.

1. Build trust with your contacts 

The phone is an excellent way to connect with candidates. Even in today’s digital world, nothing beats an old fashioned phone call or even a text message.

Cold calling, however, can be intimidating. If you’re not careful, it’s an easy way to get your number blocked. For this reason, it’s sometimes better to build a rapport with contacts before communicating with them out of the blue. 

Start small—by liking or commenting on a few of their social posts or referencing their work in a blog post and sharing it. That way, they get familiar with you and your company. Do this a few times and then try reaching out. This helps build trust and shows that you share similar interests. 

“Every conversation we have with another person has a chemical dynamic,” explains author Judith E. Glaser. “Conversations have the power to change our brain, they stimulate the production of certain hormones, stimulate pathways in our body that change the chemistry of our thinking and acting—and also how our clients think!”

Remember: The more you communicate with someone before calling, the warmer the phone call will be. If you cold call a recruit, be prepared for a cold response.

2. Use data to understand and map prospects

Let’s look at an example that’s commonly used by marketing, sales, and customer experience teams: journey mapping. 

The theory behind journey mapping is that every individual has a journey with an organization. It may start digitally, by downloading a white paper or case study or via email, but every single interaction ultimately builds a larger, ongoing narrative. 

This same practice should be applied to recruiting. Talent intelligence not only helps you understand your own workforce, but also the external talent market—where is the talent you’re looking for currently located and who are they working for? What kinds of skills and experience exist in the areas in which you’re trying to recruit? 

Then, when engaging with prospects, take thorough notes during every interaction and compile them in a database. Share these insights with your team members, too, and have them update the information when interacting with the individual. 

Use this data to guide your ongoing follow-up strategy and improve your relationships with similar candidates. 

3. Don't neglect your internal sources

You’re already sitting on a goldmine of data that can be a powerful tool in your search for talent—your own data! Between your applicant tracking system (ATS) and human resources information system (HRIS), you have a bank of candidates who are already familiar with your organization and more likely to respond to your outreach. And of course, InMail isn’t required to reconnect.

Your ATS is full of candidates who have previously expressed interest in your company, including “silver medalists” who went through your interview process. These warm candidates make great contenders for open roles when a prior opportunity or timing didn’t perfectly align.

Similarly, don’t forget to look within your own organization. Internal mobility gives your employees opportunities to grow and develop while reducing turnover, productivity losses, and the costs associated with recruiting and training new hires. Plus, in the current economic climate this can be a valuable morale booster.

4. Embrace an omni-channel approach

Recruiters often stop at LinkedIn during their outreach efforts. This is a big mistake when considering how many other ways there are to connect with people. Using several methods of outreach is called omni-channel engagement, and it’s an effective way to both deepen and make new connections. 

Many candidates are bound to be on other social channels beyond LinkedIn, like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They may also contribute to Github or maintain a blog on WordPress or Medium. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them with a carefully-worded direct message, or to share or comment on their work. 

In some cases, nontraditional recruiting channels like direct mail might even help your organization stand out. For example, some of our healthcare recruiting customers send personalized letters from SeekOut via postal mail to reach nursing candidates who don’t have LinkedIn profiles. 

5. Play the long game with your talent pipelines

Recruiting is like sales—they both take tenacity, planning, and patience. It’s very rare to capture someone’s attention and convert them on the first go-around.

Once you identify a target recruit that you really want to hire, embrace the chase. Spend some time developing a long-term outreach campaign to get them to know who you are. Start orbiting them on social media and make your presence known.

You’ll also want to build a multi-touch outreach plan with at least five messages. Your goal should be forging a relationship with the individual during each conversation so that you eventually get to a place where you feel comfortable making your pitch with an offer.

There’s another upside to taking a gradual approach with top talent: When a hiring manager approaches you in need of a quick hire, you’ll already have a pipeline of leads that you have been nurturing. As such, you won’t have to start from scratch to find qualified candidates.

6. Add a personal touch

A great way to impress a candidate is by adding a personal touch at the opportune time. For example, a prospect may tell you during a conversation that he or she prefers to commute by train and hates driving. The natural thing to do would be to keep your eyes peeled for information involving train schedules, local service enhancements, price discounts, or commuter reimbursement programs. 

Adding a personal touch can do more than just catch someone’s interest. When properly executed, it can seal the deal and convince a recruit that you are the organization to work for.

One organization that pulled this off during a high-stakes recruiting challenge was the New York Yankees, who spent a winter pursuing top free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole. As the story goes, an employee in the Yankees’ system had a conversation with Cole while he was playing for the Astros and learned about his favorite type of Italian wine. In 2020, the Yankees presented Cole with two bottles—which happened to be the same wine that he and his wife enjoyed during their honeymoon in Italy. Cole was deeply touched by the gesture and went on to sign a record $324 million deal with the team. 

As this example shows, going the extra mile to show class and appreciation made a big difference. Personalization is an excellent recruiting tool, especially when it’s deployed tastefully.

7. Find more candidates and market data with SeekOut

Many of these processes can take a lot of time. And as a recruiter, your time is precious. You can’t afford to spend countless hours researching GitHub and social media profiles of each prospect. 

Here are the top reasons to invest in a modern sourcing solution like SeekOut:

  1. You’ll uncover hard-to-find candidates that you might never see on LinkedIn. Folks like nurses and some of the most talented technical workers in the industry are hiding in the shadows—out of reach from recruiters relying on surface-level recruiting solutions. SeekOut pulls candidate information from multiple sources, and displays all of their credentials in a highly detailed profile. 

  2. You get valuable talent insights about the market, built in. You can see a talent segment through the lens of skills, jobs, diversity, competitors, geographies, and even a snapshot of your internal talent.

  3. We’re helping recruiters go from job description to initial contact with qualified candidates in record time. For example, SeekOut Assist integrates GPT-4’s generative AI technology to quickly find and engage with qualified candidates using personalized messaging.

  4. Finally, SeekOut has world-class customer success and support teams. We can’t wait to partner with you, help you increase recruiting efficiency, and minimize unnecessary costs.

Find out how SeekOut can elevate your recruiting skills and help your TA team do more with less—request a demo today.

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