Your Complete Guide to Emailing Passive Candidates

External content:  we found this article from the behavioral experts at Social Talent to be one of the best collection of ideas on how to structure an email that will increase your response rate. 

Your Complete Guide to Emailing Passive Candidates

The passive candidate is notoriously difficult to engage. So, we’ve put together a complete guide packed full of Sourcing Ninja advice, to help you grab and keep the attention of these candidates when emailing them for the first time, including tips on establishing your objective, how to craft the perfect engagement-provoking email, and even how to approach the follow up.

The objective of your first email to a passive candidate should never be to convince them to apply then and there, it should be to start a conversation about the possibility of switching jobs. What recruiters need to recognize is that, like any other decision they make, candidates will need to go through a funnel shaped, decision-making process before making up their mind as to whether to take your job or not. And there are 5 stages to that decision-making funnel:

Your first email to them will only affect stage one of that funnel – the “Need Recognition” stage – or the  “making the potential candidate aware this job even exists” stage. If your email is successful, it should trigger the “Information Search” stage, where the potential candidate goes about gathering information about the company and you, by reviewing sites like Glassdoor, asking people they know, and searching the web/social media. If they like what they find there, they’ll move on to the “Evaluating Alternatives” stage, where they then learn about similar companies who are hiring people like them too. Then, if at that point they think, “Yep, I’d like to be considered for this job”, then and only then will they make their “Purchase Decision” and get back to you and the role.

You need to remember, that your initial email alone will NOT convince a candidate to apply for your job, but a good email WILL start them on the road to seriously considering the job and putting their hat in the ring to apply. Therefore, the objective of your initial candidate email should always be to set an appointment to talk further with the candidate.

Your Email

When it comes to actually writing an email to your passive candidate, it pays to keep the following points in mind when constructing it:

Employ the 3 Sentence Approach

  • Sentence 1: The Hook

You have to make candidates want to read the rest of your email by hooking them in with the first sentence. The hook needs to grab their attention and get them interested. How do you get people interested? Answer: Be different!

Don’t do what everyone else does! Don’t copy your colleague and certainly don’t do what every other recruiter on the planet does. For example, when writing the subject line of your email (e.g the first thing the candidate will see), you might use something like “Yes, another email from yet another recruiter ;-)”. Our good friend, Steve Levy, uses this line as a strategy and as a result he boasts quite a high response rate! Why? Because candidates don’t expect him to point out the obvious, or make fun of the fact that he’s another recruiters looking to hire them.

Bottom line: Do the opposite of what everyone else does and inject some humour if possible.

  • Sentence 2: Tell Them “What’s in it for Them” (WIIFT)

Too many recruiters, whether they use email or cold calling tactics, lead with why they think the candidate is suitable for the job. Of course they’re suitable, that’s why you’re reaching out to them!

Sales-101 will tell you that you need to focus on why the customer (i.e. the candidate) might want to buy your product (in this case, a career move). Is this job in a location, that would reduce their commute time? Would the remote working opportunity or flexi-time this role offers, give the candidate more hours in the day to spend with their kids? Or is the salary just better? Could they afford that coveted car they post pictures of on Twitter all the time if they took your job?

You have to figure out the selling point for each particular candidate, by doing your research. It might just take a thorough read of their LinkedIn profile, but it is essential to stand back and look at the opportunity you are presenting and ask, “Why would this person be interested in working in this job or working for us or my client?”. If you cannot come up with a compelling reason, then you need to either move on to a more appropriate candidate (i.e. stop punching above your weight), or go back to the drawing board and take a proper job spec.

Bottom line: Tell the candidate why they should be interested.

  • Sentence 3: The Presumptive Close

People are busy and sometimes, even with the best of intentions, people forget to reply. What is the most common closing line for headhunt emails? Answer: “Let me know if you’re interested”. This is not a good closing line. You need to compel the person to reply to you, right now. A salesman (and we’re all salespeople at this point, like it or not) does not let the customer leave the store and go home and think about it. Close on the spot.

It’s best to close with a time specific call to action. The call to action could be, “Can you take a call at 6:30pm this evening to discuss further?” or “I’m going to be near your office on Tuesday. Can you meet me for coffee at 12pm to discus.

You can read the full article here.