If you’re someone who’s on the hunt for a new role this year, your ability to effectively find and approach recruiters on LinkedIn can have a direct impact on your job prospects. With LinkedIn recently crossing 1 billion users globally in 200 countries, it firmly remains the world’s most popular and powerful online professional network.

According to data from LinkedIn, 65 million job seekers visit LinkedIn Jobs every week. Members submit 140 job applications every second, and six people are hired every minute through LinkedIn. Additionally, an average of 20 InMails are sent every second with job opportunities.*

Although many recruiters do appreciate speaking with candidates, reaching out to recruiters through LinkedIn is a very effective way to make initial contact. LinkedIn has found InMails are 3x more likely to be accepted than a cold call and 6x more likely to be accepted than emails. ±

Still, with recruiters getting inundated with incoming contacts, they simply can’t respond to every single candidate who reaches out. To get an actual response from a recruiter, candidates should approach them in the right way by following these 10 steps.

1. Target Relevant Recruiters

Before even crafting your LinkedIn message, consider investing time into figuring out which recruiters work with companies in your target sector. Sending a generic message to a bunch of random recruiters is unlikely to yield any responses. “Only target those who recruit within your space to increase the likelihood of you receiving responses,” says Matt Collingwood, Managing Director of IT recruitment agency VIQU. “These recruiters will be actively looking for talented people in your space to place into roles.”

You should also target only those recruiters who have roles relevant to your professional background according to Sarah Doughty, Vice President of Talent Operations at TalentLab. She says recruiters get a bad rap for not responding to applicants, but the reality is that recruiters can get hundreds of applications each day from candidates with no relevant background. “Recruiters’ main focus is to find the right person for the role, and that’s a tougher task than many realize. If they believe for a second there’s a chance a candidate could be hired for the role, they’ll respond,” states Doughty.

2. Know The Recruiter’s Profile

You must do your research on the recruiter before reaching out. Familiarize yourself with his/her professional history, interests, and educational background before contacting them. “A great way to stand out amongst the crowd is to find common ground. If you have a connection to the recruiter in any way, whether that’s a college, town, or personal connection, definitely mention it.” says Patrick Cahill, president of #twiceasnice Recruiting. “It shows you’ve done research into them, and likely the role. Plus, it gives a nice, personal touch.”

The vast majority of candidates will skip this step, focusing on the role and not the recruiter. However, connecting with a recruiter is as much about building a relationship as it is about applying for a role. Investing some upfront time in getting to know the recruiter and figuring out how you can help them can go a long way in fostering a positive, longer-term professional relationship that bears fruit in the long run.

3. Reference A Specific Job

Candidates should not leave the legwork for uncovering a potential role to the recruiter. Instead, identify a target role before sending any message to a recruiter.

Claudia Garcia, senior talent acquisition partner at Adecco, cautions against putting the burden on a recruiter to find job openings that align with your interests or background. “Recruiters may receive hundreds of messages on LinkedIn every month. A common trend we see is candidates overlooking the importance of doing their research before reaching out.” Garcia states that too often, candidates will send their resume to a recruiter and ask for a job without referencing a specific job opening or explaining how their background aligns with that role.

Maria Ada Santos, senior recruiter and founder of the Nettle Agency, agrees that job seekers too often reach out, asking whether a recruiter can find potential roles. “Those messages tend to make recruiters feel like they’re being asked to do extra work, and many recruiters ignore them entirely,” Santos says. “The most important thing to do is be clear about which specific job you’re interested in. Reference the specific job you’re interested in and share a 1–3 sentence summary of why you’d be a good fit.”

Remember that recruiters’ primary responsibility is to fill roles, not to help candidates find jobs. They work for and are paid by their clients, not candidates. Therefore, the easier you can make it for them to connect the dots between you and these open roles, the more likely they’ll engage with you.

4. Customize Your Message

All recruiters who weighed in on this article stated that mass copy-and-paste outreach is extremely obvious and should be avoided. Garcia encourages candidates to focus on quality over quantity by dedicating more time to research when contacting a recruiter on LinkedIn. “Tailor your messages to specific roles, as opposed to sending generic and random messages that may not yield positive results,” Garcia recommends.

According to Dave Curtis, European a managing director at Harnham, recruiters receive thousands of chatbot or sales messages, so quickly making your message personal and relevant to that recruiter is critical. “While it’s understandable candidates want to apply for multiple jobs, investing even a small amount of time into tailoring their approach will go a long way and could make the difference between a recruiter reading it or not,” Curtis states.

Also, if someone referred you to the recruiter, Kyle Langworthy, a partner at Riviera Partners, recommends you mention that person’s name in your initial message. “When you tie into the recruiter’s network, you have now called their social capital into the mix, increasing the weight and importance of a reply.”

5. Include Only Relevant Details

Err on the side of keeping your message concise and to the point. Recruiters operate under time constraints, so a lengthy essay on LinkedIn won’t likely capture their attention and could potentially deter them from exploring your profile,” say Craig Furniss, senior principal consultant at TechNET CxO.

Think of your message as a short conversation opener rather than a full story or job application. “Although it’s tempting to try and get everything across all at once to convince a recruiter that you’re a good candidate right away, they’re likely to be overwhelmed and switch off if your first message to them reads like an entire cover letter,” says James Lloyd-Townshend, chairman & CEO at Anderson Frank. He says a LinkedIn message is just not the right place for a candidate’s full pitch.

At the same time, you should include some details about your professional situation and ambitions. “Include your location, whether you’re looking for permanent or contract work, expected salary, and core skills and experience,” says Collingwood. He also recommends giving the recruiter some talking points to eventually share with clients. “Recruiters love providing their clients with impressive metrics and facts about candidates. Consider including a few short bullet points that detail positive things you have done in previous roles.”

6. Articulate Your Value

The onus is on you as a candidate to explain exactly why you’re the right candidate for a role, rather than leaving it up to the recruiter to connect the dots. “Instead of asking ‘Which jobs fit my background?’, highlight how your skills and experience align with the specific role you’ve applied for,” says Garcia.

Make it easier for a recruiter to engage with you by sharing a brief summary of skills, experience, and value you’ve added to past roles and organizations, according to Geoff Shepherd, CEO of iSource Group. “Don’t make the recruiter do the work for you,” he says. “Be as specific as you can about what you are looking for and what aspirations you have. This makes it much easier for the recruiter to align your requirements with their clients’ needs.”

7. Don’t Ask For Too Much Too Soon

Just like going on a first date and asking someone to get married would certainly scare someone off, immediately putting recruiters on the spot to present you with a promising job opening in your first outreach is unrealistic.

“Avoid directly asking if there’s a job for you,” says Garcia. “Instead, apply through the company’s career page first. Introduce yourself and indicate that you’ve already submitted your resume with an application, expressing your interest in learning more about the role.”

You as the candidate should be doing the legwork rather than expecting the recruiter to find a role for you, especially since recruiters primarily answer to their clients who hire them rather than candidates who approach them.

8. Attach Your Resume

Assuming you’ve identified a promising role for which you feel you’re a viable candidate, you can make a recruiter’s life easier by attaching your resume to your LinkedIn message. Even though people can access your LinkedIn profile, attaching your resume just saves a round of back and forth, enabling a recruiter to immediately review it rather than having to request it.

“For all LinkedIn communications it’s beneficial to attach a copy of your CV at every opportunity,” says George Barnes, CEO and co-founder of Hamilton Barnes. “Time is gold dust to a recruiter so anything that you can do to cut down the number of steps involved will doubtlessly win you brownie points.”

Surprisingly, many candidates seem to overlook this simple step of making it easier for a recruiter to not only conduct an initial screening but also follow up. “You’d be amazed by the number of candidates who message me with no contact details in their message or on their profile,” says Collingwood. He says messaging back and forth on LinkedIn can burn a lot of valuable time, so recommends you include your email and phone number to make it easier for them to quickly connect with you.

9. Facilitate A Further Discussion

Speaking of making life easier for a recruiter, don’t forget to reduce the friction involved with having an actual live conversation, especially if a recruiter is interested in speaking with you. This means simplifying the process of scheduling a time to speak.

Barnes points out that recruiters tend to prefer speaking with candidates rather than qualifying them over a single LinkedIn message. “If a candidate can propose several times that they can speak that week in their initial message, that will be hugely beneficial.”

He also suggests candidates consider using a scheduling tool that can save some scheduling back and forth. “Personally, if I received timeslots from a candidate via Calendly, I’d be far more inclined to schedule a call to chat, simply because they took the initiative to make it so straightforward for me.”

Simply expressing a desire to speak can also help differentiate you from other candidates overly reliant on virtual communications. “Asking the recruiter for a live conversation, whether by phone or video, to discuss the details of the position and your potential aptitude communicates to them that you’re serious about the role and that you’re looking to move things forward,” says Lloyd-Townshend.

10. Follow Up Proactively But Patiently

Following up is generally seen as acceptable and even welcome if you don’t overdo it. Given the large volume of incoming messages a recruiter receives, your message may have just been missed or overlooked.

Rob Scott, managing director of Aaron Wallis encourages candidates to follow up within about a week. “By following up, you show the recruiter that you are genuinely interested in the role and are willing to go the extra mile to get noticed,” he says.

Curtis agrees, stating that candidates should proactively follow up to demonstrate sincere interest. “If they feel that they are right for a job, candidates shouldn’t be afraid to be bold with their approach,” he says.

However, there’s a fine line between demonstrating enthusiasm and nagging a recruiter. Doughty cautions that candidates should not be pushy or follow up too much, which can be off-putting and signal you might approach your interactions with their clients in the same pushy manner. “Messages where candidates demand a meeting or come off as entitled will scare off a recruiter, who will think twice before presenting them to a hiring manager as a solid option.”

Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out To Recruiters

One final point. You should also ensure your LinkedIn profile is crafted in a way that stands out to recruiters. And if you’ve ever wondered whether putting the “Open To Work” photo frame around your profile photo makes any difference, it can. According to LinkedIn, members who turn on Open to Work on their LinkedIn profile are 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters.

Ultimately, increasing your chances of recruiters responding to your messages on LinkedIn requires a combination of targeting and customizing your messages, clearly articulating your unique value, and making it easy for recruiters to speak with you. By following these 10 steps consistently, you can significantly increase your chances of building a relationship with a recruiter who may just open the doors to your next dream job.

About Joseph Liu

Joseph Liu helps aspiring professionals relaunch their careers to do work that matters. As a keynote speaker, career & personal branding consultant, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast, his passion is helping people gain the clarity, confidence, and courage to pursue truly meaningful careers. Having gone through three major career changes himself, he now shares insights from building & relaunching global consumer brands to empower professionals and business owners to build & relaunch their personal brands.

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