Last year I was visiting Oussama at Lion (for the People Track training). We covered three topics (sourcing / outreach, best practices in contact messages, closing). These tips were particularly relevant for startups with 10 to 400 people facing major recruitment challenges in the next 12 months — here is a recap of our discussion!

The 4 figures to know about outbound

  1. Once a day: The most efficient recruiters make it a habit: take 10 minutes a day to hunt, half a day dedicated to sourcing… Make it part of your routine! Sourcing should be a daily and basic habit rather than an occasional task.
  2. +85%: The rate of interviews after the first follow-up, negligible increase in the following ones. Make one (and only one) follow-up message.
  3. x3 : The response rate is 3 times higher per email compared to LinkedIn. Contact on an e-mail — it has to be available publicly — rather than on LinkedIn.
  4. +0%: The increase in the rate of positive responses when the CTO or HR sends the e-mail. In spite of popular belief, on average CTOs receive as many positive responses as HR!

The most effective contact messages

The most effective contact messages all combine the same three characteristics: a certain length (about 1000 characters or 200 words), they are tailored to the individual, and end with a question / call to action.

  • Optimize the length of the message: The optimal length (enough detail, not too discouraging to read) is 1000 characters / 200 words.
Tip: Add all the generic information you want to include in PS: team size, stack.
  • Talk to the candidate: Do some “Personalization at scale”. It will be more effective to explain clearly and in detail how the opportunity will interest the person (opportunity for advancement, training, assignments, compensation) than simply mention the latest company in a generic message — everyone can now automate these customizations in a simple way.
Tip: Count the number of occurrences of “you / your”. If there are less than 5, rewrite your message with the person who will read it in mind.
  • End with a call to action: The best call to action are open-ended questions, which cannot be answered with “yes” or “no”: “When would you be available to discuss it?”, “What are you plans in the next 12 months?”, “When do you plan to change jobs next time?”

Improve your conversion rate

  • Document yourself: The theory is simple: to increase conversion (and then retention), you need to understand what the person in front of you is looking for. Find out more about the literature on recruitment (Who — The A Method for Hiring, Smart & Get Things Done) or modern sales (Customer Centric Selling, The Sales Acceleration Formula).
  • Be responsive: Reactivity is essential for conversion. Do not cancel interviews (except in extreme emergencies), be on time.
Tip: Our users with the best conversion rate (then retention!) adopt the saying “Under promise and over deliver”. They inform at the final interview that they need 7 days to make an offer. They actually send it the same evening: 100% of the candidates have accepted so far :).
  • Treat the candidate from the beginning as a future member of your team: Until a candidate is rejected, you must consider him/her as the person to whom you will make an offer. Try to understand its motivations and drivers from the beginning.
Sample questions: What is the percentage chance that you will choose us? Why not more? What would be missing to make it more? What would make you choose one company over another? On the other hand, what would make you refuse an offer for sure?