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Last week I spoke at  ROC day in Wroclaw, Poland. When my friend Kasia first invited me I asked her what she would like me to talk about and she thought that a talk on messaging, how to get replies, similar to what I have talks on before would be a good topic. As it’s a topic I’m quite passionate about, always trying to improve my on respone rates, I thought it as a good idea.

But, I didn’t just want to do the same talk as I have done before. I mean, we all know personalisation is important, but isn’t that old news by now? Are there really recruiters out there who are not aware of this?

Of course there are still recruiters out there sending bulk emails, inmails, text whatever types of messages, but I’m sure they are _aware_ that this is not the best strategy. So, I took a slightly different approach to my talk.


Personalised messages

We all know by now that personalising, or rather hyper personalising, our messages to potential candidates is what we have to do to get replies. We no longer start our messages out with

Hi Firstname!

My name is Sofia and I work as a recruiter for X Company. I came across your profile on Linkedin and was really impressed with your experience.

We know better than that. But just because we know that doesn’t mean we do it 100% of the time. There are other factors as to why we chose to not hyper-personalize. One of those aspects is time. It is true that sending out the very same message to 100 people is quicker than writing hyperpersonalised messages to the very same 100 people. However, that doesn’t necesarily mean the result is better.


Bulls-eye candidates

Simply personalising our messages is not enough if we are sending it to the wrong person. By “wrong person” I don’t mean sending a message to Steve calling him Pete, I mean we have to take care in choosing who we contact. It doesn’t matter how personal your message is, how much you compliment their latest Github repo, blog, tweet or whatever, if the role you are presenting to them is not a match.

I’ve said it in the past and I’ll probably say it again. Simply because someone is a java developer, doesn’t mean they want to work as a java developer at your company/client. It’s not a question of matching skills to a job description. Yes, if we are recruiting a developer we need to know their tech stack. That’s important. But equally important is that types of problems they will be solving, what the company actually does, what’s the culture like etc.

I’ve had my fair share of interviews with developers. When I’ve asked what they enjoy about programming the majority of them have said “problem solving”. Not a single one has said “typing code”. In my mind that means we should focus more on the problem solving aspect of the job.

What you should be focusing on are the “bulls-eye candidates”. What is that, I hear you ask 🙂

A bulls-eye candidates is someone who does not only have the skills you need, but they also have the interest in what your company does and the problems you have to solve. So, not only do they match your requirments, but you also match theirs (or at least, you think you do). Using myself as an example (again!), I’d be looking for people interested in either streaming or film/television and/or media.

I would argue that you’ll have to spend less time personalising message to those candidates. I mean, of someone sent me a messsage about a role that would be perfect for me, I think I’d even be ok with them calling me Sophie!

Hopefully reaching out to the bulls-eye candidates will be enough, but you can of course end up with non of them being open to changing jobs at this very moment, Once you’ve tried reaching the bulls-eye candidates, and failed, you start trying to reach the next ones and keep moving out the rings until you get to the edge of the dart board. If you by then haven’t managed to get hold of a single person, you are probably doing something wrong.

Outer ring does not mean a bad candidate. The ones that you have first deemed to be “outer ring”  (to stick with the dart board analogy) could be the perfect candidates. It simply that their digital footprint did not indicate that.

I’m currently on the very outer ring in my quest for Android developers. I might actually have gone off the dart board a long while ago and currently on the floor looking.


Behavioural sourcing

The easiest way to identify the bulls-eye candidates is via behavioural souring. This means looking at interests first, keywords second. I have written various blog posts on this topic (and will probably write more). The most popular one has been “Behavioural Sourcing on Github“. So I won’t be going into great detail here.

The basics is that you start by finding a group of people (don’t have to be an actual group as such) who have a common interest, for example streaming. Then you will go through those people to double check that they have the skillset you need. Those are your bulls-eye candidates.

The more selective you are with who you contact, the less personalisation you have to do. So go out and start playing recruitment darts and see how you do!






Sofia Broberger

Sofia Broberger

Sourcing Trainer

My name is Sofia Broberger and I’m a freelance sourcing and recruitment consultant focusing on IT/Tech recruitment.

I have a background in teaching and really enjoy combining my experience as a teacher with my love for sourcing. I’m available to give tailor-made workshops and lectures/talks on sourcing, tech recruitment and employer branding.