How To Write Irresistible LinkedIn Messages To Candidates

By Paul Slezak - Aug. 28, 2013
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So you’ve found the perfect candidate on LinkedIn and now need to craft an irresistible message to them.

You’re aware they’re probably getting approached every other day by different organisations not to mention the plethora of hungry recruitment consultants on the prowl.

On the other side of that blank LinkedIn box on your screen is the message-weary candidate annoyed at receiving yet another enquiry about whether they’d be keen to learn more about a ‘perfect opportunity at XYZ Inc’.

Amongst all the competitive LinkedIn clutter, how do you stand out from the crowd?

We’ve analyzed blogs from recruiters, hiring managers and successfully recruited passive candidates from all over the internet to bring you the top tips on writing messages to get the attention – and the time – of the candidates you really want.

1. Go for Quality Over Quantity

Maybe you have your own tried and true methods. Perhaps you have templates that seem to be working? Is it because you’re smashing through 100 candidates a week in the belief ‘it’s a number’s game’ or that if you throw enough mud at the wall something’s bound to stick?

Far and wide, the emails that get the attention of highly sought after candidates are those that are incredibly personalized. This takes time but your success rate will be much higher. Choose quality over quantity.

2. Do Your Homework

The number one frustration of candidates targeted through LinkedIn is messages that show the recruiter or hiring manager hasn’t done their homework.

  • Check their background: Look for any shared histories between your organisation (or your client) and the candidate. You will look very stupid if you approach someone who has already worked with people in that organization.
  • Check their strengths and skills: For example just because they did events management the year after they finished high school doesn’t mean that’s what they want to do in the future.  You are wasting the candidates’ time and your time by pitching roles they have no interest in doing.

3. Be Concise but Not Too Concise

The ideal tailored message is between 150 – 250 words. Less than 150 words and you risk coming across like you don’t care enough. More than 250 words and the candidate won’t read it or will assume you don’t value their time.

Keep it simple and straightforward.

4. Use the Words You, Your and Yours A LOT

As with any well crafted job ad, the best LinkedIn messages are those that focus on the candidate. Show your familiarity with their career history by highlighting the skills and experience that stood out to you.

Don’t launch into too much detail about the opportunity. Rather, paint a picture of the person’s suitability within the organization. “You’ll be working …”,  “You’d be responsible for …”,  “It would give you the perfect opportunity to …” etc.

5. Throw Away Personal Introductions

Hi, I’m …” is unnecessary. Your name is in the header.

The first sentence is your first impression and invaluable in grabbing the attention of the passive candidate as quickly as possible. Begin with a sentence talking directly to them or about them. Save the other information for later.

6. Kill the Generic Flattery

It might feel nice the first time a candidate receives an email saying ‘I’ve come across your profile and I am impressed.’ However after a while the generic flattery falls flat.

It sounds insincere and can quickly turn a candidate off wanting to talk to you. Flattery is fine, but be specific about it. Which brings us to our next point …

7. Be Specific

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to show that you have spent the time looking into the candidate’s background. This alone will put you in the top 5% of emails received.

Mention specific things about their profile that caught your attention such as, ‘I noticed you have taken on three project management roles in the past four years which suggests to me that you may have a desire to expand your skills and oversee a bigger team …’

8. Don’t Lie

Be careful with those little white lies like ‘I’ve heard about your work’ when you haven’t; or ‘Someone told me about you’ when they didn’t.

If you don’t have specifics you could be caught out at a later date. Beware of pretending that you have already spoken to them when you haven’t.

If they’re interested in your opportunity, they will remember.

Your ‘RE:’ in the subject line or ‘Hey again!’ paints you as untrustworthy.

9. Suggest a Specific Date for a Chat

If you’re serious about the candidate show it. Suggest a time to catch up within the next seven days and use actual names of the days, rather than ‘sometime this week’. For example, ‘If you’re interested, would you like to catch up either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning?

10. If you Follow up, Mention That You Are Following Up

Not mentioning that you have previously sent an email looks like you couldn’t be bothered to remember or to personalize the email again. If the candidate was seriously interested in your opportunity, but just didn’t have time to get back to you, they will remember you.

Coming across like you don’t care could lose that opportunity. Use something along the lines of ‘Just sending you another email’ or ‘I contacted you a few weeks ago …’ as your openers.

11. Don’t Ask for Details of Other People Who May be Suitable

This is the equivalent of someone asking you out on a date and then saying, ‘But if you’re not keen do you think any of your friends would be?’.

You want the candidate to feel like they are special, like they have been picked out of the crowd. If it’s a good opportunity that might suit a friend or colleague, they will pass it on.

12. Don’t Call Them at Work

There’s nothing more awkward for a candidate than getting a phone call from a recruiter in the middle of a workday. You have just interrupted their flow. If they are interested, they can’t say it on the spot. Give them the space to choose when to speak to you.

13. Try to Find Someone Who Knows Them for an Introduction

By far and away the number one way of standing out to a potential recruit is to organise an introduction through someone else who knows them. LinkedIn Graph is great for this. Use your networks to get as close and personal as possible before making first contact.


These aren’t just good ideas, they are tried and tested rules and processes that will make you stand out to your next ideal candidate!

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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