Just How Effective Is LinkedIn InMail for Recruiting?

Just How Effective Is LinkedIn InMail for Recruiting?

Emily Smykal

Connecting with potential candidates and sharing suitable job opportunities just isn’t what it used to be. Job boards are in decline and more applicants than ever are starting their searches on Google or other, more digitally-focused places. So, should you be shifting your recruitment budget to targeted Google AdWords?

Perhaps. But it’s hard to say, because this is truly an age for experimentation in recruiting. The most proactive recruiters in talent acquisition today are those who embrace all forms of connection. But one of the biggest challenges with our growing diversity of digital media is maintaining some form of personal touch. Some people skip over ads entirely. But it’s much harder to ignore a direct, personalized message in your inbox.

This brings us to LinkedIn InMail—you’ve probably sent messages from it or received ones through it by now. The most popular professional social network, LinkedIn has 400 million members worldwide. For many people LinkedIn profiles have supplanted resumes, and some companies rely on the network in place of their own career site. The social network advertises InMail as a way to contact anyone, in or out of your network, with 100% deliverability. But is it the best way to engage with potential candidates?

In this post, we explore its effectiveness, and provide a few tips if you’re going to use the service.

What is LinkedIn InMail?

InMail is a messaging service available to all LinkedIn members who pay for a Premium account. This is different from the basic LinkedIn messaging system, which any member can use to contact their connections for free. Users with access to InMail can contact virtually any LinkedIn member they like, and these messages appear in that member’s message inbox.

How is this different from the standard messaging service? InMail messages are labeled as such, and LinkedIn formats them differently so they stand out as more formal and professional communications. Plus they can be sent to the entire LinkedIn user base, and will not bounce back or be marked as spam. Some LinkedIn subscription options even include analytics for your InMails.

How Effective is LinkedIn InMail?

Besides guaranteed delivery, InMail includes a sponsored option for recruiters. Messages sent this way will only be delivered once the target member logs in to the site. Such timely, personalized messages sound like a good antidote for an increasingly diffuse and self-reliant pool of job seekers.

But how do recruiters know these tactics will resonate with potential candidates? According to its own study, LinkedIn reports that more than 75% of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to guide their decision. They also found candidates hired through LinkedIn are 40% less likely to leave the new job within the first six months.

LinkedIn says the top recruiters on its site are 60% more engaged with the social network’s recruiting tools, including InMail. They also report that members who are already engaged with your brand on LinkedIn are 81% more likely to respond to your InMail. While there is little external data to support LinkedIn’s claims, the company has amassed such a large network of job seekers and recruiters that it’s hard to argue with the general trends of their study.

Tips for Using InMail to Approach Candidates

So if you decide to allocate some talent acquisition resources on engaging candidates through InMail, how should you get started? Approach LinkedIn InMail like a digital marketer would approach email marketing. You’ll need to experiment, be witty and get to the point, and don’t forget to let your employer brand stand out.

Important: Ask any marketer—it’s incredibly difficult to disrupt someone’s day with an unsolicited outbound message. On a whole different note, we’ve been publishing lots of content recently regarding more inbound, strategic approaches to attracting applicants. More on that here.

If you’re planning to use or currently are using InMail, though, here are a few things to keep in mind:

The first thing to consider is what are your goals and how will you measure them? Because there’s so much experimentation involved in this (you could be sending a lot of cold emails), it only makes sense to develop a strong analytics system to measure performance. What works and what doesn’t?

Second, identify the preferences of your targets. Some users will choose not to accept InMails labeled for specific purposes. Assuming your candidate will accept these messages, make sure you lead with a catchy yet specific title and subject. You want to get their attention and establish an immediate connection.

Next, introduce yourself. A lack of social norms in electronic communications will make you sound awkward, even rude. This includes explaining why you’re contacting the person specifically. A brief, clear explanation of who you are and what you have to offer the candidate is essential. And don’t forget to wrap up your message with a thank you and a clear call to action.

Contacting candidates through InMail, or other messaging services, can potentially help you fill an open position. It can also build talent pipelines and perhaps even support the establishment of your reputation as a recruiter. But it can also be a bit aggressive and considered spammy if approached in the wrong way. If you’re going to use this service, it’s important to break through that.

If you’re interested in learning more about using research and data to improve your recruiting performance, follow the button below or click here for a deeper analysis of the future of analytics in recruiting:

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