Outbound Recruiting 101 (Part 4 of 7): Shorter is Better

July 24, 2012 at 3:34 AM by Vivek Reddy

This is the fourth post in a seven-part series entitled "Outbound Recruiting 101". It focuses on best practices when reaching out to passive candidates during recruiting. Reaching out to passive candidates is something that almost every fast-growth company does as part of their recruiting efforts. That being said, it can be done respectfully or disrespectfully. We strongly encourage the former. :) Please keep in mind throughout this series of posts that your company's brand is at stake when you are contacting candidates and treat the person you're contacting as you would like to be treated (we call this the Outbound Golden Rule!).

Tip #4: Shorter is better. Nowadays a lot of email gets read on mobile devices. The longer the message, the more someone has to scroll. The more they have to scroll, the higher the likelihood they will just hit delete. Think about that when crafting your emails. How can you convey the most important information in the fewest number of words. Here are a few suggestions on that front.

First, as much as possible, focus on the candidate. Many companies send over long missives about how awesome they are. Funding, accolades, metrics, etc. Guess what? The candidate doesn’t care much. They are interested in their life and professional prospects way more than they are in you or how cool you are. So focus on that (see tip #1) right out of the gate. Over time, if they’re interested, they’ll want more information which you can provide them.

Second, press links are good. They do a couple of things. First, they provide credibility that your company is up to good things. After all, most people would like to work for a company that is showing up in TechCrunch or the Wall Street Journal from time to time. In addition, those articles will often contain the very same metrics that, if you were to include them in your email will both lengthen it and encourage that “it’s all about us” perception that we’re trying to avoid.

Next, talk up the tech. You’re probably not an engineer so it’s tempting to focus on the stuff you know better. Business metrics. What the product does. The non-techy stuff. But engineers and designers are likely to be just as interested in the tech stack and if you don’t mention that in your outreach you are missing an opportunity to connect. The best thing to do here is to sit with your engineering leadership and work with them to craft a short blurb on the tech stack that you can include in the email.

Finally, when appropriate, reference mutual connections within your email. Perhaps you have a common connection with the candidate on LinkedIn or Facebook but you’ve decided to reach out directly versus working through that person. When you craft your email, mention that person’s name. This often will help build rapport and provide you a common talking point when you do speak. You can also reference people you know at companies that the candidate has worked at although we’d avoid referencing people at the candidate’s current company lest she thinks that you might prematurely disclose the candidate’s interest in your company to them.

This part of outreach takes a lot of practice and there’s definitely some trial-and-error involved. And there’s no “one size fits all” solution. The message that someone recruiting for a stealth startup will send will be very different from the message of someone recruiting for Google or Facebook.