“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
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, and from any location.
This was a radical change—especially for recruiters. With the advent of LinkedIn Recruiter and the InMail messaging system, recruiters could suddenly target people at will—going on the offensive, instead of waiting for candidates to find them.
The years that followed produced a variety of spinoff recruiting platforms, but LinkedIn has remained the most popular—much to the detriment of the recruiting industry as a whole.
The recruiting game has changed. Have you?
Fast forward to today, and it’s clear that LinkedIn Recruiter has run its course. According to LinkedIn, InMail response rates are a mere 28 percent on average. Making matters worse, LinkedIn penalizes recruiters who fail to meet a certain threshold.
“Recruiters must keep their InMail response rate at or above 13% on 100 or more InMail messages sent within a 14-day period,” the company states in its InMail Policy. “If you send more than 100 InMail messages over a 14-day period and have a response rate less than 13%, you’ll receive a warning notification as well as tips to improve your response rate. For any subsequent breach of the threshold, you may be placed in an InMail Improvement Period.”
The margins for recruiters are already thin. For every 10 people you contact, less than three are likely to respond. LinkedIn also lacks deep visibility into the overall candidate pool and doesn’t offer insights into the job market as a whole (more on that below).
Recruiters, in other words, get punished if they can’t hit LinkedIn’s hard-to-achieve requirements. 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.
“People are ignoring notification emails from social networks because of the sheer volume of rubbish coming into their inboxes,” explains Dorothoy Dalton, CEO of 3Plus International. “InMails are not important enough and are often routed to other junk mail boxes. Gmail segregates its email inbox into four compartments, shifting all social networking notification emails, leaving only high-value emails in their inbox.”
That said, don’t ditch LinkedIn entirely. It’s still useful for certain types of data collection. However, if you’re still using LinkedIn as your primary recruiting tool, it’s time to expand your horizons.
How to stop relying on LinkedIn—and start recruiting
One of the downsides to LinkedIn—and social media in general—is that it’s made recruiters lazy. Much of the art of recruiting was stripped away in the digital era and replaced with a system that enables mass notification. Many recruiters are now used to being fed a stream of candidates through social media. In the process, they’ve lost their thrill of the hunt.
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 tools like SeekOut’s AI-powered candidate sourcing platform enable recruiters to level-up to the status of a multifaceted talent advisor.
It takes some work. But in the end you will enhance your presence in your industry and earn a reputation as a go-to source for recruiting in your organization. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at seven alternatives to LinkedIn InMail.
7 alternatives to LinkedIn InMail
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. Form a detailed follow-up plan
Take a look at any talented recruiting professional and you’ll notice one thing: They can sell with the best of them. Sales takes tenacity—and planning. It’s very rare to capture someone’s attention and convert them on the first go-around. This is especially true in recruiting, where 80 percent of hired candidates require five follow-ups.
That said, embrace the chase. Once you identify a target recruit that you really want to hire, spend some time developing a long-term outreach campaign. Start orbiting them on social media and make your presence known. Get them to know who you are.
You’ll also want to build a conversational outline that stretches at least five calls deep. 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. If you rush in too early, you could blow your chances.
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 as you scramble to find a qualified candidate.
3. Engage in prospect mapping
For this step, let’s look at an example that’s commonly used by customer service teams: customer journey mapping.
The theory behind customer journey mapping is that every individual has a journey with an organization. This journey starts with their first interaction with a company and lasts throughout their entire lifespan. It may start digitally, by downloading a white paper or case study or via email. The important thing to remember is that every single interaction ultimately builds a larger, ongoing narrative.
This same practice should be applied to recruiting. Take thorough notes during every interaction and compile them in a database. Share these notes with your team members, too, and have them update the information when interacting with the individual. Use this data to guide the ongoing follow-up strategy detailed above.
4. Add a personal touch
A great way to build off of prospect mapping is to add 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. So, 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 recently pulled this off during a high-stakes recruiting challenge was the New York Yankees, who spent the winter pursuing top free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole. As the story goes, a little known 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. Fast forward to 2020, and the Yankees presented Cole with two bottles—which happened to be the same type 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, it wasn’t the cost or even the wine itself that made the difference. Rather, it was the act of going the extra mile, and showing class and appreciation. Personalization is an excellent recruiting tool, especially when it’s deployed tastefully.
5. Have eyes and ears everywhere
Another key takeaway from the New York Yankees’ example is the importance of expanding your network, and having people in unexpected places and roles work for you to help further your goals.
Recruiters need to be master networkers. Downtime should be spent connecting with others, building relationships, and nurturing your network. Let others see you as a magnet for talent, and someone who is actively interested in helping others grow and discover new opportunities. Assuming you work for a company that’s in demand and attractive, people will naturally see you as a gateway into that organization. They’ll want to connect and share insights—like talented personal contacts who are looking to network or find new opportunities.
Keep networking and growing, and good things are bound to happen.
6. Try other social channels
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.
If a candidate is on LinkedIn, for example, they’re bound to be on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well. They may also 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. This is called omni-channel engagement, and it’s an easy way to connect with others and make new connections.
By now, the wheels should be turning as to how you can improve your outreach efforts and create a more holistic recruiting strategy. But, there’s one thing that we haven’t touched on yet—because it’s the most important point of all…
7. Use SeekOut to access more data
All of the above-mentioned processes take tons of time. It’s not always as easy as Googling someone’s email address or finding their presence on GitHub or Twitter. And, as a recruiter, your time is precious. You can’t afford to spend countless hours researching the social media profiles of each prospect.
Modern candidate sourcing tools like SeekOut provide recruiters with access to deeper data than platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed, in a way that is infinitely faster than conducting research on your own.
This is where SeekOut truly shines. SeekOut pulls candidate information from multiple sources, and displays all of their credentials in a highly detailed profile.
For example, SeekOut gives you two different ways to search for candidate email addresses. You can conduct a search in the SeekOut platform or you can pull from social sites like LinkedIn via the SeekOut Sourcing Assistant.
By and large, the best feature about SeekOut is its ability to uncover candidates that you would never be able to find on LinkedIn. Not everyone, after all, maintains a LinkedIn presence. 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 helps you shine your light much deeper into the talent pool, uncovering ideal prospects that you would otherwise never know about.
Curious how SeekOut can elevate your recruiting skills to a new level? Try a free demo today.