Answer by Ambra Benjamin on Quora.
The best way to digest the answer I’m about to give to this question is to think about a recruiters’ experience with processing candidates similarly to how an iOS Engineer working at Twitter might feel about recruiters reaching out to him/her.
There is a lot of noise.
I’m going to tread carefully because the last thing any recruiter should be complaining about is “too many candidates.” I think one of the challenges with modern day recruiting is filtering through the candidates who simply are not qualified or not a good match for what we’re looking for and identifying the really good/relevant ones. Similarly, if you’re a top Sales Development Representative or a top Engineer (heck even if you’re just a mediocre one), you’re going to be receiving a lot of emails and outreach from recruiters interested in your profile. The hard part is filtering through all those messages to find the opportunities that actually interest you. So candidates, we’re just like you!
As much as I love Facebook (heh) and use it quite a bit for work, a lot of recruiters haven’t seemed to make that jump, and still view Facebook (fb) as a highly personal part of their digital footprint. Hopefully that will change more as recruiters start using FB more as a sourcing tool. I gather some recruiters may think it weird to receive an initial reach out from a candidate in that way. Just know that if you aren’t friends with the recruiter, that message is going into their “other inbox,” which may or may not be checked very regularly. Facebook does give you the option to send a message to someone’s regular inbox for $1. It’s pretty cool.
LinkedIn is something I have a love/hate relationship with. It’s probably one of the better platforms at many recruiters’ disposal right now, which is annoying because it’s really not that great. It’s not particularly intuitive or well designed in my opinion. It’s kind of clunky, sends you a lot of SPAM or emails you care nothing about. LinkedIn’s also getting all out of its swim lane by introducing super annoying features like birthdays and endorsements (No offense, but I really don’t care if it’s your birthday if you’re not my personal friend). More and more recruiters I talk to view LinkedIn as a necessary evil. I paint that picture to say we’re not exactly thrilled to be in this tool every day, and therefore shenanigans from candidates (i.e. anything other than, “Hi, my name is XXX and I’m interested in XXX position can you help me by XXX?”) are less likely to be tolerated or even paid attention to.
Maybe I’m an anomaly. I don’t know. Other recruiters reading can chime in, but on peak days, I can receive 30-40 LinkedIn connection requests. Even 5-10 a day is a low average for me. Maybe it’s because I work for a “Name brand” company. If a recruiter’s stock (in the proverbial sense) is high because of where they work, candidates reach out very frequently. I currently have 245 LinkedIn connection requests waiting for my response and about 185 messages. Managing LinkedIn can easily take up a lot of we recruiters’ day/week. So it’s not that I don’t like being approached. We are not recruiters if we don’t have good candidates. What I don’t like is low relevancy outreach from candidates.
Although I have really high numbers for requests and messages, those are only the ones I haven’t responded to yet because I couldn’t figure out the relevancy. Messages and connection requests that are immediately relevant to me receive my fullest and most prompt attention.
I’ll give a few examples.
Exhibit A – “Wrong Department/Function”
So I happen to be an Engineering Recruiter. Thus, my scope right now and probably for the last six years of my career has been hiring engineers. I make this explicitly clear in my LinkedIn profile. So if someone reaches out to me because they are interested in a marketing role, that is low relevancy for me. Chances of responding? Low.
How can someone who is interested in marketing roles increase their relevancy for me?
- They can mention a mutual connection or relationship.
- They can include a link to a specific job opening in which they are interested.
- They can tell me exactly what they need me to do to help them.
- They can not reach out to me at all and instead reach out to someone who is a marketing recruiter.
Recruiters are busy! Often we are connecting with many people throughout the day. You are raising the barrier of entry for yourself if you’re not allowing us to read your email and take quick action. This also applies in other areas of your life, right? If you’re sending an email out to a mailing list in order to get people to “like” your business’ new Facebook page, you’d include a link to the page in the email. Why would you do that? Because no one is going to meander on FB and then try to FIND your business’ page. And then what if they do go look for it and they think they find it, but they find the wrong page? You have added 3-5 more steps for everyone and you just lost 75% of your audience who is never going to like your new Facebook page.
Exhibit B – “In Search of Internship”
If I were to categorize the types of outreach I receive on LinkedIn/Quora/Email, I would say that 65% of the messages I receive are from students looking for internships. Awesome. So glad this up and coming generation is being pro-active, because many are in for some tough times ahead in this market and some of this college career center advice being dispensed is super sketch. That said, I am not a university recruiter. So try as I might to forward along these messages to the best of my ability, I fail, and I fail often. So why take a risk on someone like me? Instead, if you are a student or a soon-to-be graduate, find/research the university recruiters — also sometimes known as “Campus/College Recruiters”— at any given company and reach out to THOSE people. Those are the people who can help you.
Exhibit C – “Requests for Placement”
I receive emails from candidates asking me to “place” them. I don’t work at an agency! I’m not a headhunter or a search firm. Also in this category are ambiguous outreach emails saying “I’m interested in opportunities” but nothing specific listed…I guess on the hope that I can read their profile and figure out which opportunities might be right and then respond? Tall order, my friend. Don’t risk it. This is your career at stake. Make it count.
Exhibit D – “Informational Interviews/Request for information”
I receive a lot of emails from people telling me they are interested in opportunities at my company and asking if they can set up an informational interview with me. Why are people still doing this? It’s 2015. Few people in recruiting are going to just give you 30 minutes of their time because you’re interested in the company. I’m interested in Tesla and SpaceX. I’d love to pick someone’s brain who works there. But If I want to know more about those companies, I’ll do my homework and certainly wouldn’t expect someone at those companies to spend time with me unless I had a relevant reason and the right qualifications. I’m all for informational interviews, but only with candidates with high relevancy per those four areas of relevancy I listed above. In my mind, a request for “informational interviews” is code for “the candidate wants to sell his or herself on the phone.”
Exhibit E – “How can we help each other?”
Oh gosh. These are the absolute WORST because they are often messages masquerading as offers to help or partner, but really they are entirely self serving. My favorite “meme” that’s going around lately and needs to be stopped with intense quickness is the one that starts with, “One of my new years’ resolutions is to reach out more to my current connections to see how we can help each other…..blah blah blah proceeds to talk about how awesome they are and hard sell their abilities.” Can we all collectively throat punch the person who started that trend? Because it’s yucky. I don’t like it. Makes me feel slimed. It’s clickbait.
So in summary, we recruiters like to be approached, but only when it’s relevant. So the best advice I can give to candidates is increase your relevancy by doing more research. If you want to get your LinkedIn/Facebook/Quora/Carrier Pigeon message read and actioned by a recruiter, do these things:
- DO list the specific opportunities you’re interested in if there are jobs posted on that company’s website. OR specify the exact type of role you’re after. Even better to include links.
- DO reach out to the right type of recruiter for the type of role you want. This is not a good time to shotgun approach it. If you’re in infrastructure, figure out who might be working on recruiting those types of people. A little Googling should dig it up.
- DO try to reference something that connects you to the recruiter, be it a person, a place, or a thing. But don’t make this up. If you’re reaching out cold, that’s fine. Be authentic.
- DO give the recruiter a specific action/how you need help, and do it in the first few sentences. Something like, “Can you please pass along my resume to the person responsible for hiring XXX?” or “I recently applied for XXX and I’m trying to get a status update on my application. Would you mind checking for me?”
- Keep it short.
- Keep it brief.
- Keep it brief and short.
Hope this helps!
This question originally appeared on Quora.