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The 5-Step Process to Using CTAs for Better Recruiting

Posted by Nikki Floyd

22-Jun-2015 11:00:00


Since recruiters don’t always have the opportunity to make a first impression in person, they need to be able to impress their candidates virtually. Recruiters’ top method of initially contacting candidates is through LinkedIn InMails.

The 2014 Global Sourcing Survey found that 38% of recruiters chose InMails as their go-to for reaching out to candidates first. However, the survey also found that recruiters aren’t leveraging InMails as much as they could be and that picking up the good ole’ fashioned phone results in the highest response rates.

Why does the phone bring in a higher response rate? Perhaps it’s because a person’s tone of voice can be displayed through the phone. 38% of communication comes from tone of voice, so an InMail is missing almost 40% of a vital piece of communication.


broadbeantwitter-01 You're missing out on nearly 40% of communication when you use InMail to contact candidates. 



It’s much easier to ignore and dismiss a recruiter’s messages when you haven’t had personal contact with them before or heard the tone in their voice. Therefore, recruiters are challenged with building what’s known in marketing as a call-to-action. This part of the InMail or email may often be overlooked, but it’s critical in getting those response rates to improve

Unfortunately, you can’t just throw a CTA at the end of your InMail or email and expect a response. A framework needs to be built throughout the entire workflow that leads up to the action being called upon. Take a look at how you can do this best in 5 steps:

Part 1: Give Them the Facts

Cut the sweet, sugar-coated talk and flat out explain why you’re contacting this candidate. The very first three sentences should explain why you are sending the candidate a message, and how you came across their profile.


broadbeantwitter-01 We all love sweet, marshmallow fluff, but there is no place for it in the recruiting biz. 


In this first stage, it’s most important to focus on the candidate rather than yourself. Crystal Miller (@TheOneCrystal), employer branding expert, shares in her Social HR Camp presentation the story pattern framework: Situation, Challenge, Resolution. Make sure to focus on the situation before overwhelming the candidate with excess information or worse… fluff.

Part 2: Give Them a Time Limit

After you’ve explained how you found them and what you are contacting them for, do not let them cease reading. The first sentence after your honest explanation should demand the candidate stay tuned for what you’re about to say next. Don’t be afraid to throw an estimated time it will take for them to read your InMail. If it’s visibly short, say this will take less than a minute. If your message is more lengthy, then tell them exactly how long it’s going to take to read what you’re about to say. Hopefully, it’s not longer than 3 minutes or you run the chance of losing their interest.


Captured from “Say Something”, Crystal Miller’s Session at SHRC15

Part 3: Give Them the Gist

“Here’s what the position entails, here’s what our company is like, here are the kinds of benefits we offer, here is what a day in the job looks like, here’s our career page, check out these photos… oh and go ahead and follow us on Twitter… don’t forget to like us on Facebook!”

Save yourself the time and your intended candidate the time, and don’t spill all the beans at once. First of all, they don’t care. They don’t even know who you are, so instead of bombarding the candidate with all of this information (no matter how great you make it sound) opt for something more direct, simple and to the point.

However, make sure to give them a few details that will pique their interest and lead to your first call-to-action. Crystal Miller’s Audience Journey has 5 stages:

  • You are proposing change

  • Acknowledge the struggle is real

  • Play the mentor and prepare them

  • Share the imbalance

  • Create the contrast 

In giving candidates the gist of why you’re reaching out, you’ll need to relate to their struggles. This prepares them for the next step.


Part 4: Give Them a Reason

Before you can give the candidate a reason to contact you, you have to know exactly what you want them to do. You can’t expect them to jump through hoops to respond to you, and you can’t ask too much of them. What you can do is decide that you’re going to make it a goal of accomplishing one particular thing from sending the email. Do you want the candidate to answer a question? Do you want them to visit your company’s career page? Do you want them to call you? Decide what you need the candidate to do, and then step back and see if you can wait to make that your CTA in the subsequent email. Asking someone to click or call in the first message is asking a lot.

If you can settle for just getting a plain old response, then build your email around just that. Don’t bombard the candidate with too much information all while asking them to share something about themselves, too. Focus on the first small step you need to accomplish to ultimately get them to the end destination you have planned. The best way to do this is ask a question. Make sure this isn’t a yes or no question, and that it’s open-ended. You want to open up a topic of conversation the candidate is passionate about and feels comfortable discussion. This leads us to:

Part 5: Give Them a Reward

Now that you’ve planted your CTA, it’s time to make it as easy as pie for them to follow up. The most important aspect of this is relieving the pressure of making them contact you. Don’t leave them with your email or ask them to give you a call. If you messaged them via InMail, then let them know they can respond to you there.

“What is the next step? We talk about it in advertising but less commonly in recruitment marketing. Give them a reason to reach back out. Leave no ambiguity.”-Maren Hogan (@MarenHogan)

Remember to focus on one simple action that you would like the candidate to take. It needs to be clearly displayed and not hidden within your message. Plus, making it as easy as possible to get the candidate to follow up can help open up the dialogue for further conversation, and then you can give them more details or ask them to visit your career page. The right hire will come in good time, you just have to give them just that: good time.

Request a copy! 2014 Recruitment  Trends Report

Topics: Recruiting