10 vital LinkedIn InMail tips to make lasting impressions on talent

Last updated:
December 1, 2020
April 20, 2023
min read
Brendan McConnell
Table of contents

When it comes to InMail messaging through LinkedIn, it truly is the best and worst of times. Best, in the sense that recruiters can contact virtually anyone, at any time. Worst, because that convenience and scope have led to an oversaturation of lazy and uninspired InMail messaging. To help you buck this trend, we’ve come up with a list of LinkedIn InMail tips that will help you stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression to potential candidates.

Most LinkedIn users would agree that InMail messages have become too spammy and generic. They typically lack personalization and are often not relevant to the person receiving the message. As a result, LinkedIn users – and potential candidates – often simply ignore this type of messaging, and consider them to be a waste of time.

Worse still, spammy, untargeted messages can have a seriously bad impact on your brand over time. Think about your own reaction to an annoying and generic InMail message. You’d likely react negatively to the person sending it, right? Take that negative reaction, and apply it to your company’s brand. Then multiply that by all of the people you’ve sent your InMail message to. Over time, this can lead to LinkedIn users associating your brand with spam and cookie-cutter messaging. That’s not a good look for recruiters.

To combat this, here are 10 LinkedIn InMail tips and examples for recruiters to use when reaching out to potential candidates.

LinkedIn InMail tips and examples for recruiters

When reaching out to potential candidates, it’s important to take a minute to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why are you contacting them?
  • Who is this person?
  • How can I connect with them in a meaningful way?

You should go through this exercise with every candidate you contact through InMail. By doing so, you’ll force yourself to think of each contact as a unique person. This will help you avoid a cookie-cutter message, which will likely never be opened. Know your contact, and understand what is likely to grab their attention.

With that in mind, here are some InMail tips and examples for recruiters:

1. Know your goal

Recruiters often make the mistake of trying to cram too many separate goals into an InMail, resulting in an unfocused message and unclear expectations. Like with all recruitment ads, you need to decide on a single goal before you reach out to the candidate.

In the case your first targeted InMail recruitment message to a candidate, this goal should be to simply start a conversation. Be friendly, and show the candidate that you’re interested in getting to know them more.

This means introducing yourself personally, explaining clearly why you’re messaging them. Show interest in the candidate’s career path and goals, and make a personal connection and pitch as to why your company or position fits those desires.

Don’t just launch into a pitch about “your opportunity,” and definitely don’t forget to introduce yourself properly and make a connection. You wouldn’t just dive into pitch mode if you met someone new on the street, so don’t do it through InMail.

In the next sections, we’re going to take a look at some InMail examples for recruiters that will help you achieve that conversation goal every time you reach out to a new candidate.

2. Write an appealing subject line

Like with recruitment emails, nobody is going to open and read your InMail if the subject line isn’t attention-grabbing. And if your InMail isn’t even opened, then your goal of sparking a conversation with the candidate is over before it even starts.

To write an appealing InMail subject line that candidates will want to open, the key is to make it personal and to make it stand out from the crowd. Avoid generic subject lines that just include your company name and vacant job titles. Candidates get that type of InMail dozens of time per week for high-competition roles.

A great way to make your subject lines more personal is to include the candidate’s name, their college or university, or mention a shared connection. Mentioning a name has been proven to increase open rates by up to 26%, while mentioning a shared connection improves your chances of getting a reply by 27%. Think about it. If you received a message that mentioned you by name or someone you know, then you’d likely want to learn more.

You can also make the subject lines more personal by doing a bit of research into recent work your candidate has done, or their interests. If they have recently written a blog post or article that stands out to you, mention that in the subject line as an ice breaker.

Keep your subject lines short – between 7 and 8 words, if possible – and be specific about what you’re offering. The best way to figure out the subject line formula that works best for you is to test different variations and measure the open and response rates for each. If you find that a certain formula works best, then use that going forward.

Let’s take a look at some subject line examples that are clearly targeted InMail recruitment messages, directed specifically at the candidate.

“[first name], I loved your blog post on recruitment!”

“[shared connection] mentioned that we should get in touch!”

“[first name], I think you’d be a great fit at [company name]”

One tool that we highly recommend you check out is Net Atlantic’s Email Subject Line Grader. This is a quick and easy tool that analyzes and grades the quality of your subject line. Try some variations, and drop them into the Subject Line Grader to see which ones are likely to get the best response.

3. Write a personal greeting

Once the candidate has opened your InMail, it’s important to continue the tone you established in your subject line, rather than launch right into your pitch. To do so, write a personal greeting that follows up on the statement you made in the subject line. This is also a good time to let them know about any mutual connections or interests you might share in order to establish a friendly rapport.

Don’t be afraid to throw in a casual reference to your candidate’s personal interests, if you know any. Making a personal connection about a shared interest or hobby is the perfect way to stand out and establish instant credibility.

Here are some targeted recruitment message examples you can consider to make the first lines of your InMail more personal.

“Hi, [first name]. I just finished reading your recent blog post and had to tell you how much I enjoyed it!”

“Hello [first name]. Your name was sent to me by our mutual contact [contact’s name]. She said that I just had to contact you to for some cooking advice.”

“Hi [first name]. I couldn’t help but notice that you’re an avid sports writer in your spare time. It’s great to meet fellow hockey fan!”

All it takes is one or two short sentences to show that you’re different than all of the other generic InMail recruitment messages out there.

4. Introduce yourself

Follow up your personal greeting by introducing yourself. Tell the candidate your name, what you do, and a one-liner about your company. This will help minimize the amount of work the candidate has to do to figure out who is contacting them, while also putting a more personal touch to your message.

There’s no need to be too fancy about this part. Keep it short and sweet, and move on to the rest of your message.

Here an example:

“My name is [your name]. I’m a recruiter for [company], a company that specializes in [x, y, z services]."

Feel free to elaborate a bit if you have specific messaging you’d like to get across about your company. But, it’s also important not to bombard the reader with unnecessary information.

5. Personalize your message – write specifically for your candidate

By far the most important LinkedIn InMail tip for recruiters is to personalize every message you send. This goes beyond the subject line and greeting. The goal here is to make the candidate feel that this InMail message was written just for them. Tools like Linked Helper helps recruiters automate personalizing InMails or bulk sending. Statistics show that personalized emails result in a 50% lift in response rate.

A great way to do that is to include two to three unique details about the candidate that you can find on their LinkedIn page or social media profiles. Make note of their:

  • current employer,
  • education,
  • career progression,
  • special interests,
  • hobbies,
  • awards they’ve won
  • anything else that helps you understand them better.

All of these will provide insights into what the candidate values, and how your position can fit into their career aspirations. Figure out what those insights are, and incorporate them into your pitch. Would this be a promotion, with more responsibility and a higher salary? Mention that in your message. Will they have more opportunities to focus on their passion? Definitely tell them that.

If, in your research, you discover mutual connections or interests, use those to continue building rapport with the reader.

Here’s a personalized InMail example for recruiters to consult when crafting their own messages.

“You’re exactly the type of person we’re looking for to join our marketing team. Your writing abilities and laser focus on data-driven content strategy (not to mention the fact that you make a mean GIF for blog posts) are exactly what we’re looking for. You may find it interesting that we have a few alumni from your program at [university] on our team who absolutely love working here. We’re a fast-moving and fun-loving group who would definitely benefit from your expertise as we grow our marketing team.“

To help guide the language and tone you use in your personal message, consider a tool like Gen Decoder for Job Ads. Often, when writing job ads, the language you use can inadvertently turn off certain candidates. This is usually done subconsciously, but it can have negative effects on how candidates respond to your message. Gen Decoder is a quick and easy tool that lets you drop your ad text into an online window, and analyze if there are terms of sentences that may have a discouraging effect.

6. Keep it short, simple, and full of personality

People are busy, and nobody has time to be reading needlessly long InMail messages. Keep your targeted recruitment message to a short and sweet 200-500 characters. Get in, make a connection, show some personality, ask them to connect, and then get out of dodge.

7. Know the best time to send the InMail

Anyone who has worked in email marketing knows that there are good times to send messages and terrible ones. This applies to InMail recruitment messages too.

A good way to ensure that you’re sending messages at the right time is to measure your open and click rates through the LinkedIn ad platform (see picture below). Stagger your send times, and analyze which ones repeatedly show the best results. These will often be the “peak” times when people are opening their InMail messages.

Historically, it’s been found that Sunday evenings and Tuesday mornings work well, because people are either gearing up or winding down from the dreaded Monday. Do some experimentation to see if this theory holds true for your industry.

8. Talk to the people who want to hear from you

If you’re looking to improve your open rates, then a good InMail recruitment tip is to send your messages to people who actually want to hear from you. How? By leveraging two powerful LinkedIn features.

First, you can target people who already follow your company on LinkedIn. These are people who have shown an interest in you, and who are 81% more likely to reply when contacted by a company they trust. Second, you can use LinkedIn’s “Open Candidate” setting to target and message users who have indicated that they are willing to be contacted by recruiters, making them twice as likely to respond.

9. Create a simple, yet useful, signature

Be sure to sign off on your InMail message with only the information the candidate will need to reach you. Avoid using excessive social media icons, links or graphics. Simply including your name, position and a link to your company website is sufficient. But anything more than this just creates clutter and more opportunities for the candidate to assume that the message is spam on first glance.

10. Be clear and direct about the next steps

Lastly, make sure you clearly state what the next steps are in the candidate experience. If you’ve written the rest of the message clearly, and established a good rapport, then you should feel comfortable in asking for a direct call to action.

Avoid general and vague requests like “let me know if you’re interested” and get straight to the point. “Are you free for a chat at 5 p.m. today?” or “I’m in your area tomorrow at lunchtime. Would you like to meet for a coffee?” are both great options.

Get the candidates attention with a snappy subject line, establish rapport through personal messaging, draw a clear connection between their goals and your company, and then ask them to meet with you. Do each of those steps right, and you’ll stand out from the crowd as a successful InMail recruiter.

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