Follow Up is Essential - Here's Why

If you want to land fee-eligible candidates, you simply must follow up with them

I’m a big believe in metrics. Why? Because they don’t lie. More on that in a minute.

Having been in the staffing and recruiting world since 2004, and run my own independent recruiting business since 2012, I’ve done my fair share of candidate outreach over the years. When I first got into the business, us recruiters spent the majority of our time searching for candidates on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com - LinkedIn, at that point, was in the very early stages of becoming what it is today. That worked fine for the contract job orders we were trying to fill - with contract candidates, hiring managers seem to be less concerned about the track record and tenure of such candidates and more focused on “do they have the skills to help me today?” That’s not to say that hiring managers won’t scrutinize your candidate submissions for contract job orders, it’s just that the candidates you send for direct hire positions are in an entirely different league.

And guess what? Those candidates usually weren’t on the resume sites. Why? Because, as we often say, fee-eligible candidates aren’t looking for a new job, they’re too busy working in their current role, making them “passive” vs. “active” candidates - the kind that hiring managers willing to pay our fee won’t have access to if not for our efforts. The “head’ in “headhunting”, so to speak.

Before the days of LinkedIn, which has effectively rolodexed (is that a verb?) the entire international professional workforce, if, as a recruiter, you wanted to find fee-eligible candidates, you literally had to call into companies and track people down. Now, mind you, back then people picked up their phone, text-messaging had not yet become the preferred method of communication, outside of email, that it is today. If they didn’t pick up their phone, you left them a message, and waited for them to call back. And if they didn’t? You had no choice but to TRY AGAIN. Dialing for dollars.

Fortunately for us in the recruiting business, with the advent of automation in most business processes, we’ve come a long way. Now, when we want to find people, we need look no further than LinkedIn, which, for a fee, gives us access to the entire working population of the world. Complete game-changer for the industry, no doubt. But like anything else, it’s only a tool, and is only as good as what we do with it.

Back to my original comment about metrics. Besides being the most comprehensive catalog of professional talent on the web, LinkedIn also provides a convenient way to contact the candidates we are interested in, via “InMail”. The beauty of InMail has and always will be the ease of use - I don’t need to do anything more than select one of the many templates I’ve created, click send, and BOOM - the message is off to the candidate. For those of us paying for premium LinkedIn accounts (Recruiter or Recruiter Lite), we can even bulk InMail a group of candidates all at once, no doubt saving us invaluable minutes we can redirect to other frustrating endeavors, like golf.

Here’s the rub: with InMail, not only are the messages impersonal (if you’ve ever received an InMail yourself, you know what I mean), but there is absolutely no way to know if your message was read (unless of course you get a response), and worse, there’s no easy way to follow up. It’s sort of a one-and-done effort - like spraying a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what sticks - and the numbers don’t lie:

What are we looking at here? This is my InMail report for 2021, thus far. I’ve sent 900 InMails and had a 33% response rate (not bad). 97 of my messages were declined (fine, I can make a connection with those candidates for future opportunities). All good. What really concerns me, though, are the 587 “no-responses”.

Some of you might be saying, “hey, but at least you get those InMail credits back” (LinkedIn returns the credit to you if your message has not been responded to within 7 days after sending it). That’s cool, I’ll take as many InMail credits as I can get, but that’s not really the issue. The issue is that, without going in one by one and trying to figure out who I messaged that didn’t respond, I have no way of knowing who those 587 people are, and worse, no easy way to follow up with them (unless of course I resend them another InMail, but again, I’d have to first figure out who they are.)

These 587 people didn’t respond to my message for any number of reasons. Some didn’t see the note, others saw it and ignored it, and still others might have opened it, got distracted, and moved on. Let’s be honest - for the fee-eligible candidates out there, that will happen from time to time.

Of those 587 people that didn’t open up my message, were they to receive another touch from me, and yet another, how many of them, by the 3rd or 4th time, might then be ready to respond? Well, let’s look at another report:

This report comes directly out of my email automation tool, Interseller, which is, in my opinion, the greatest thing to come along since sliced bread (fine, LinkedIn.) Interseller allows me to create a campaign for each of my job orders, build an email sequence which will automatically send customized emails to candidates over the course of whatever time period I choose, and report back to me on who is looking at those emails. On top of that, the tool comes with 250 email lookups a month, and a simple Chrome browser plugin that adds a clickable button to my LinkedIn searches, making it easy for me to A) find a candidate’s email, and B) automatically add them to my campaign.

You’re probably looking at this report and thinking, 16.5% reply is about half of what Scott is getting from LinkedIn InMails. And that may be true, but keep in mind I’m only sharing one specific campaign from Interseller (I have about 20 going at any given time) whereas the LinkedIn report is cumulative. The parts I want you to pay attention to are the “ongoing” and “opened” figures.

In this particular campaign, I have 5 emails that a candidate will receive over the course of a 3 month period. Of the 425 people that have been messaged, there are still 66 that have yet to receive all 5 of my messages. The system is working even when I’m not. Notice that 63% of the candidates have “opened” one or more of my messages. With Interseller, I can drill down to see who opened what, when, which shows me something I never see from LinkedIn InMails: intent. Think of it as the equivalent of someone trying on a pair of jeans vs skipping over them in the aisle. This data affords me the opportunity to pro-actively follow up with the candidates that are demonstrating intent but haven’t purchased yet. Why haven’t they purchase yet? There’s no way to know unless I ask, but if I don’t know who the prospective buyers are, I have no way to find out.

I probably sound like a sales rep for Interseller, but I have no skin in the game other than my own success and my desire to help you succeed. The point of all this is to remind you how crucial following up with prospective candidates is if you want to be a competitive direct-hire placement recruiter. One InMail is not going to cut it - you need a hyper-focused outreach campaign that affords you the opportunity to touch the largest pool of people the most number of times. So for me, it’s LinkedIn for search, Interseller for outreach.

It’s often been said that most prospects agree to purchase after the 7th or 8th try, but most sales reps give up after the 1st. The numbers don’t lie. Following-up is essential.