In a tough job market these days, it takes more than just submitting your resume for a job in order to get noticed. And at some point, we might exhaust our own network and have to go the scary route: reaching out to strangers on the internet, ideally ones who could give you a job.
Trying to get an internet stranger to notice you is more art than science, and it can be particularly tricky when reaching out to recruiters online who are actively hiring for a job you might be interested in. You want your application to get noticed, but so do the 500 other people who applied before you, so everyone rushes to that recruiter’s inbox—with mixed results.
Sometime in the last six months, I started getting a lot of LinkedIn messages about roles I was hiring for that seemed to be identical copies of each other. They all sounded like this:
SUBJ: I’m interested in your [JOB NAME] role
I hope you’re doing well! I’m interested in the role you posted: [JOB NAME]. Based on my experience as [WHATEVER YOUR LINKEDIN HEADLINE IS], I believe I could be a good fit.
Are you open to a quick chat to discuss the position? I’d love to learn more about it, and share more about my own qualifications. I look forward to hearing from you.
LinkedIn has rolled out an update that allows candidates to reach out directly to the person who posted a job (usually the recruiter) and send them a templated message that fills itself out with your name, headline, and the name of the job. It saves a ton of time, and lets you fire off a much higher volume of outreach messages to recruiters than you could have if you were custom writing every one—but it probably isn’t getting you the results you’ve been hoping for, and there are a few reasons why (plus how you might do better in the future).
The templated messages are just adding to the noise
Part of what makes a templated message attractive is that it takes very little effort to just hit “message,” which means 100 other people also did that. As much as a recruiter may want to read and respond to every single message, once at least five of these templated messages come through, you start to predict that most messages that start with “I hope you’re doing well! I’m interested in the role you posted:” are probably all going to read exactly the same.
Recruiters, in particular, get a lot of inbound messages, especially in an environment where more than 200,000 people have lost their jobs in the last eleven months. When most of the messages in your inbox look the same, you naturally start to filter out the ones that look like copies and perk up at information that stands out, which means a templated message is probably getting skimmed right over.
If you want to use the template, consider customizing the subject line (at the very least) to include a greeting or your recipient’s name to try to catch their attention early. However, if all you change is the subject line, your reader will probably still move on quickly once they recognize the rest of the templated message.
It’s including obvious proofreading errors
If your headline on LinkedIn is anything other than your job title and your company, odds are the template is pulling in some word salad that doesn’t actually make sense once it’s inputted into the template. While this doesn’t seem to happen every time, it happens enough that I have a collection of weird, non-sensical messages in my inbox.
If your LinkedIn headline is something like “Looking for opportunities” or “Growth Marketing | SEO | Data Whiz,” the template will frequently spit out:
Based on my experience as Looking for opportunities
Not the best look, and you and I both know that if you wrote this message yourself, you would have pitched your experience much differently. If you want to use the template, make sure to double-check that all the details have pulled in correctly and it reads like a non-AI wrote it.
It’s asking for something most recruiters can’t (or won’t) give
The template defaults to asking the recipient if they have time for a “quick chat,” a very vague, amorphous request that most people aren’t excited to grant for just anyone. Particularly when you’re reaching out a recruiter who typically fills their day with 30-minute interviews with candidates whose resumes they’ve reviewed, it can be a bit of a long shot to get someone to agree to a 15-minute chat with every candidate who sends a message—even if they want to. A request for a brief chat also leaves a lot to the imagination: Is it really going to be just a chat between two people getting to know each other, or is this person going to try to turn the call into an impromptu interview?
Instead of asking for a quick chat, come up with a specific question you’re actually curious about that the recipient might be able to answer via text instead of on a live call. It could be about the company culture, something specific about the job description, or asking about how their experience has been so far. Or, simply sign off with a polite thank you for reading.
It’s not showcasing your skills or why you’re a fit for the job
The template is brief by design, which means it’s easy to read, but with so few details, it doesn’t say much about what makes you an interesting candidate for the role you applied for. While it does highlight your LinkedIn headline, there’s so much more about you and your skillset beyond just your job title or the buzzwords of your industry. Your job title also isn’t what sets you apart—recruiters will likely see hundreds of candidates who have your same job title, but the piece that will set you apart is your specific experience and expertise.
Instead of just dropping your job title and calling it a day, add in one or two tidbits that add color to your background and highlight how you’d fit into the role someone is hiring for. Something as simple as “I owned our TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter presence at [COMPANY]” or “I have experience setting a CRM up from scratch in my current role” can add helpful texture when a recruiter is skimming over your message trying to figure out if your profile or resume is worth looking at.
Write a few thoughtful, custom messages instead
Yes, it will take longer. Yes, it will be annoying. No, it probably won’t work every time, but a thoughtful message will always stand out more than a cookie cutter “I’m interested in your role” message.
If it feels daunting to write a custom message for every job you’re applying for, consider drafting up a few different templates that sound like you and pitch your experience well without writing a whole novel. They don’t have to be works of art every time, but make sure they include:
- A unique, hopefully charming subject line
- A brief rundown of the skills you bring to the table (that make you a great pick for the role)
- A quick mention of what you already know about the company and/or why you’re interested in joining
- A polite sign-off (and/or a brief, specific request for information)
While it still probably won’t get you a 100% response rate, odds are the person on the receiving end of your message will be a lot more likely to open it and actually learn about the qualities that make you stand out.