I recently received an email from an agency recruiter (let’s call her Lana) who was seeking candidates for the role of President of a large staffing firm. The name of the firm is being withheld to protect the innocent! The email was written professionally enough: Lana included a clear description of why she reached out to me and what exactly in my background caught her eye. She even mentioned people that we knew in common.

Lana had done her research. She went on to congratulate me on a number of past awards and even commented on a number of recent videos I posted on social media. This indicated that she did, in fact, review my background. As I continued to read the email, I became more and more impressed with Lana’s approach and research… until I got to the end.

After building credibility, Lana closed the email with this sentence: “Steve, after reviewing your credentials and experience I hope that we can connect soon.”

That was it! Lana did a great job building momentum and then didn’t even close with an expectation of a return call, return email, or even advice! I was disappointed that after all the research she did, Lana missed what most recruiters and salespeople miss: a clear call to action.

Other emails, InMails, and even voice messages that I have seen and heard delivered by other recruiters are similar:

“Call me if interested…”
“If you would like to learn more…”
If you know anyone who is interested…”

No, don’t get me wrong; each of these closing sentences will end in some candidates’ responses. The question is: are the right candidates responding or can we get more candidates to respond if we were more direct in our calls to action? The simple answer is yes!

Economic Impact

With unemployment at 20-year lows, potential candidates are being approached dozens, if not hundreds of times a week by recruiters, recruitment ads, and related advertisements from the likes of Indeed, CareerBuilder, and Zip Recruiter, to name a few. With all this noise, how do recruiters stand out and get more candidates to respond?

Take a page from the digital marketing industry, we need to keep a few points in mind when crafting our sales/recruiting messages:

• Candidates rarely take action unless asked to take action.
• Candidates take action when a story challenges them to take action.
• Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending.
• Candidates will often take action when something is at stake.
• We must show candidates the cost of not responding to us.
• Candidates are not mindreaders and will not respond if we don’t ask them to directly.
• Don’t send passive recruiting messages. Candidates will sense weakness, and most will not reply to your messages.
• Direct invitations to respond general result in the greatest percentage of responses

When you make a clear call to action, you make it easier for candidates to make the choice to respond. You leave the decision to move forward in the hands of candidates when you don’t define a clear call to action. When it’s their decision, you lower the odds of a response.

I took the opportunity to respond to Lana to help out. I responded with the following email:

Dear Lana,

Thank you for the email regarding the role of President for your client. I was impressed by the amount of research you did prior to reaching out, and although you did not ask me to reply, I felt compelled to provide you with some feedback.

Since we do not know each other, it would make sense for you to call me this afternoon, so I can better understand your objectives and help you define a more specific message designed to increase the odds of receiving a reply. Unfortunately, the open-ended close in your email is not compelling enough to get most candidates to act.

The following link will take you right to my calendar to get us scheduled. Click here now.I look forward to speaking with you this afternoon.”

Within 5 minutes of sending this reply, Lana had clicked on the link to my calendar, scheduled a time to connect and we ended up chatting that afternoon.

Moral of the story

So what’s my point in this story? Read the email I sent to Lana to see the basic structure necessary to increase the odds of a response. This isn’t meant to be used word-for-word. It’s simply to show the bones of a compelling email with a direct call to action that also shows how to avoid a tragic end and how to pre-frame yourself as their guide.


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