Persistence Pays

Created: Jul 28, 2015 01:15PM PDT      Updated: Dec 09, 2015 11:06AM PST
Let’s start with a couple quick questions:

1. How many emails did you receive yesterday? 50? 100? More?
2. 24 hours have passed, how many of those messages will you reply to today? Tomorrow?

Okay, assuming your answers were similar to mine, let’s grab a few quick takeaways that will guide our discussion:

1. We receive A LOT of emails!
2. Let’s face it, if 24 hours have passed and we STILL haven’t replied, we probably won’t ever reply. And as each day passes it becomes less and less likely that we’ll get back to those messages.

During an analysis of over 500,000 sales emails,
Yesware found that “90% of emails that received replies were replied to within one day after they were opened. During that first day, over half of opened emails were replied to within three hours.” That means that only 10% of the emails that received replies were replied to after the first 24 hours. (Full article here)

So what does this mean for recruiters that haven’t heard back from candidates after the 1st email?


I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that following up with candidates is important. So why don’t you do it? In the same
Yesware study mentioned above, only 19% of the 500,000 email senders went on to send a follow up message. Do you feel like you’re annoying candidates? Or do you simply run out of time?

Objection 1: Annoying “Spammy” Messages

First of all I think it’s important to remember why we’re sending these messages in the first place. As recruiters it is OUR JOB to connect candidates with open opportunities. If we don’t reach out and reach out to a large number of candidates, our company/client won’t grow and pretty soon we’ll be back on the job hunt ourselves. Many candidates understand this and appreciate a recruiter’s effort.

Notice that I said “many candidates” and not “all”. If you’re a halfway decent recruiter and haven’t had at least one candidate tell you to “buzz off” by now, you are either a) the sweetest email writer I’ve ever met or b) recruiting in Canada :). Grumpy candidates are just a reality that we have to learn to deal with. If you can’t deal with rejection, time to get out the kitchen.

Just as a candidate can detect extra effort, they can clearly see which recruiters are slapping a job req into a stock template and clicking “send to all”. If you’re still one of those recruiters who thinks this is a smart way of doing business, I beg you, please stop. You’re often guessing wrong on the candidate’s skill sets and therefore sending irrelevant JD’s with no human touch whatsoever. You are aggravating candidates and making all recruiters look bad. This strategy was totally acceptable ten years ago, but the tech recruiting market has changed dramatically and hard to find candidates don’t react well to blind email blasts.

Okay so how do we adjust our approach?

1. Spend a little more time on your first email - build rapport with the candidate and prove your credibility as a recruiter right from the start. Each time you follow up with a candidate you essentially “re-sell” your first message. So make this one count!
Do your homework to understand a candidate's background so that you send relevant opportunities. Bonus points if you can throw in a personalized subject line or say something about the candidate's interests outside of work. And if you're struggling with ideas for personalization, TalentBin's new template variables will autofill candidate interests into your messages! 

2. Apologize up front for the persistence - Let the candidate know right away that you plan to follow up if you don’t hear back. Remind them that good recruiters follow up diligently, knowing that the best candidates require investments of time & effort. Check out some of my follow up email “openers” below for ideas!

“Did my last email make it to you? Any questions I can answer? I wanted to follow-up and tell you…”

“Sorry for my persistence, but I know that you get hundreds of emails per day. If I don't keep floating my emails to the top of your inbox, I don't stand a chance.”

“I've been trying to reach you for a week or so, maybe you're on vacation? If so, I'm jealous :) Hit me up when you're back "on the grid".”

3. Is a relationship hurting you? Time to break up - After following up with a candidate for a set period of time, send a “break up” email. The guilt trip often leads to replies! Over 35% of my candidate replies come to my break up message, the highest response rate of any of my emails! "Break Up" examples below. (Check out my response rate data - slide 4)

“Okay now I'm starting to think this is personal. Do I smell bad? If my emails above weren't convincing enough, you better believe I'm going to keep trying :)”

“Okay, I'm breaking up with you. It's not you, it's me. Or wait, is it the other way around? Anyways, I keep following up because I know that the best candidates are often the hardest to reach. You certainly are proving me right. Honestly I'd love to chat even if this isn't a perfect fit RIGHT NOW. Of course, I always appreciate referrals as well.”

Employing the strategies I outlined above using an Automated Follow Up Campaign in TalentBin, I’ve achieved a 60% response rate. Not only is my response rate high, but because of my messaging, most candidates end up apologizing to me for not replying sooner. Turns out, they didn’t think my messages were annoying at all, but rather thought that their lack of timely response was the annoying part! #winning

Here is a screenshot from one of my recent
webinars that documents some real candidate replies:

So now you have a good feel for how to write less annoying emails, but how can you make time for it?

Objection 2: I don’t have time!

I won’t argue with you. Following up manually with hundreds of candidates IS time consuming. So how do we fix it? I’ll give you a hint. The keyword in the above sentence starts with an “M”. If you guessed “Manually”, you’re 100% correct! The best way to beat a time consuming manual process is to AUTOMATE it.

But how? Well that’s where
TalentBin’s Automated Follow Up Campaigns come into play. Within TalentBin, you have the ability to create an email campaign that ranges from 1 to 10 messages (or more if you wish). TalentBin recently released a Guided Campaign feature that helps you write a series of messages that call out enticing facts about your company or client. You can also set the email cadence. Personally I like to send messages every 2-3 days since I know that emails typically go to email heaven after 24 hours.

After a one time investment of 15-30 minutes to edit your messages, you will have a follow up campaign that you can use for all of your positions, technical in nature or not. My own case studies have shown that a TalentBin Follow Up Campaign can save you anywhere from 5-8 hours of follow up time per job req. Check out one of my webinar 
slides below that breaks down potential time savings:

Wrap Up

A few tweaks to the content of your 1st outreach and follow up messages, combined with the implementation of a TalentBin Automated Follow Up Campaign can have you doubling response rates and saving hours of valuable time! When reaching out to a candidate in today’s tech recruiting market, there really is NO EXCUSE to not use a follow up strategy. As recruiting competition continues to intensify and the demand for top notch developers sky rockets in the coming years, the recruiters who can differentiate themselves based on their research skills, email writing ability, and diligence in follow up will thrive. The rest, well, I hope they have a back up career plan.


About the Author

TJ Wynn is a TalentBin Product Specialist Team Lead and the creator of the TalentBin webinar series.

During his 2 years at the company, he has led both 1st month and Ongoing training teams, trained 1000+ recruiters, and is considered a subject matter expert in passive candidate outreach strategy.

Connect with TJ on LinkedIn!

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Q​uestions? Thoughts? Either c​ontact your Product Specialist, reach out to us at anytime, or leave a comment below!
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