We all now we should personlise our messages. And most of us probably know that hyper-personalising your messages is even better. So why don’t we all do it?
Just bescause we read about something once, and it makes sense, doesn’t mean we automatically go off and do it. It takes time to adapt to a new idea and implement it completely. We need to get there in our own time.
Copy + paste:ing
My journey started 5 years ago when I was given my first job as a researcher at a small recruitment agency focusing on tech. I didn’t know much about the job as a researcher, other than what I had been told at the interview. Writing my very first inmail was hard, what was I to write?
I had no clue. To add to the mix we were all sharing two recruiter accounts which meant I had to write the message pretending I was someone else. So what did I do?
Well, I simply looked at what my collegues has written and copied the message. There, sorted. I kept using this message for every candidate I contacted.
In the end, my collegue who has written the original message, sent her message to a candidate I already had been in touch with, resulting in the candidate getting a bit annoyed at us sending the same message. It might sound odd, but it wasn’t really until then I realised I had to write my own message, or rather my own template. So, at least I was adding some of my personality to the message by using my own words.
None of my collegues had yet discovered to lovely LinkedIn feature of templates, but I found it and started using it like crazy. So, I saved my newly written message and used it over and over again. Eventually I was able to send inmails from my own acount, but still using the same template. After a while of using the same template for pretty much every role I was given, I started creating a separate template for each job. The focus being on what I was looking for and the job on offer, not so much focus on the candidate. The personalisation aspect was using their name. And, if the candidate had mentioned something on their LI-profile, that I could relate to, like salsa dancing, I would mention that. That’s as far as the personalisation went.
And when using Recruiter, I could use my delightful template to send bulk messages. Yay!
No wonder I sometimes felt as if I had been in touch with every single candidate potential candidate on LinkedIn (I probaly had sometimes). But I hadn’t yet realised you could, and should, go beyond LinkedIn.
Asking for recommendations
So, after a while I tried some new tactics. One of them was asking for recommendations. I had already been instructed to always ask for recommendations from the candidates when speaking to them on the phone, so it only made sense to use do the same in written communication as well. But I changed this tactics slightly. Rather than asking than the contacted candidate to recommend someone if the position on offer wasn’t for them I only asked for a recommendation. As in “Hi, would you be able to recommend someone for this position” (in a few more words).
My thoughts at the time was that I was distancing myself from the direct question and not being as full on expecting them to be ready to make a change in their career. By asking them if the knew someone, they might even go as far as to recommend themselves. Once someone did (and he is still at the company I placed him, almost 4 years later). But this tactic only workd once, out of I don’t know how many attempts. So not a very good ROI.
It wasn’t until I left the agency world and started as an inhouse recruiter that I had time, or rather was given time, to educate myself a bit more. I ended up reading various blogs, attending webinars and signing up to newsletters, and networking IRL. I realised there was so much to learn, and so many ways I could improve.
I loved the fact that I no longer had someone pushing me to make those phonecalls when no-one every picked up the phone. I could now spend my time sending e-mails and inmails only. So, naturally I read various blogs on the topics. That’s when I came across a post on Social Talent’s blog about hyperpersonalisation, and I thought, “that’s what I should be doing”. Did I immediatley drop everything and started hyper-personalising?
Of course not.
Arriving at my destination
The other day I realised I had arrived at my destination. I had written a truly personalised message that could not be copied and sent to anyone else but this particular person.
I was looking for a Team Lead for our Experience Team. I found a candidate on LinkedIn and thought he would a great fit. I tried finding out more information about but his digital footprint was almost non-existant. Then, I finally found it. Apparently he had been really into role playing in the late 80’s and had written a game himself together with some others. So, I wrote him a message. The piece de resistance; using the title of the game he had written as the subject line. Within the hour I had a reply and interview booked. That’s when I realised I had arrived and the true power of hyper-personalisation became obvious to me.
I’m going to be honest. I haven’t stoppped asking for recommendations, and I’ll probably keep doing it. The difference is HOW I do it nowadays. I personalise it. I do not ask every single person I contact to recommend me someone. I do not say “If this job isn’t a great fit for you, perhaps you can recommend someone?”. I’ll give you an example of a personalised way of asking for recommendations:
A few weeks back I was looking for a candidate for a position as Head of Data. In my search I came across the person who seemed to be a great fit, however, they hade just started a very similar job at a different company. I sent him a message explaing my situation, that he had come up in my search but I knew he had just landed a great job, at a good company (an old client of mine, so mentioned a couple of the people I knew there). I asked him if he knew of anyone suitable for a similar role at our company. He replied. He couldn’t think of anyone from the top of his head but said he’d have a think. I don’t think he felt my request for a recomendation was rude or incorrect, becasue I tailored my message to him. I explained why I wanted a recommendation from him. This was not a message that I sent to anyone else. That’s why he replied.
Personalising two ways
Personalising a message is not only about the recipient but also the sender. How you write and express yourself is unique to you, and you need to give a little of your own personality in you messages. Going back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this post. In the beginning of my recruiter career, I had to write messages using sombody else’s recruiter account. Therefore it was almost impossible for me to add my own personality in the message. I couldn’t be me.
My never ending journey
I started off copy + pasteing messages someone else had written. Now I create messages that can’t be copy + pasted. How did I end up here?
I stil use templates. I still ask for recommendations. But, everything is well and truly personalised. Gone are the days of bulk messaging. I use a different template for each position, with the main difference that the opening paragraph is never the same. The opening paragraph is hyperpersonalised for the recipient and this message could not be copy + pasted and sent to someone else. That’s the difference.
I believe I have evolved a lot since I first started out in the business. We all know that copying someone elses writing should not be done, yet I have done it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to ever have done so. But the key is to learn from your mistakes and get better at what you do. I aim to keep on evolving.
My current response rate is 70%, but I’m hoping to increase this by sticking to my journey into hyper-personalisation.