Has the recruiting industry hit an inflection point of bad behaviors surrounding the job seeker experience? Well, maybe it's not that bad — but sometimes it seems like it! You only have to search for #recruiterfail on Twitter to see examples candidates are sharing about their experiences with recruiters.

I am a software engineer and you want to talk to me about a sales job. Really?

That kind of thing is all too common. What unites these negative experiences? Job seekers regularly highlight the messages they receive from recruiters that are too impersonal, or simply not relevant.

But while these cautionary tales can be funny to read, they also reveal a persistent problem. Recruiters often aren’t treating candidates as people.  And considering that the conversation these days is all about using personalization in your messaging, this is pretty ironic.

But if the majority of recruiters agree that personalization is important, the question remains: What level of personalization should I use?  

Taking personalization to the next level

One of the questions that keeps my mind running at night is how to identify ways that Indeed’s global sourcing team can help enrich the job seeker experience. Since much of our focus is on outbound recruiting, we have started to look closely at candidate messaging, asking this question:

How can we enrich the job seeker experience through our messaging to create a high level of engagement and humanize the experience for those we recruit?

Our answer has been to go to the opposite end of the spectrum from “Recruiter Fail” type stories: We hyper-personalize our messaging.  What do we mean by this? We focus on a single intimate detail that is truly unique to the job seeker we are engaging.

Want to know more? We’ve implemented a 3-step framework to utilize hyper-personalization in our messaging that you can follow and implement today. Let’s take a look!

3 Steps to Hyper-Personalization

1. Start and open your message by focusing on that one intimate detail truly unique to that job seeker.

Here’s an example of how I did this while searching for an engineering leader. A few minutes Googling took me to the Twitter feed of a potential candidate I’ll call  “Armando“.

I took a few minutes to scroll through his feed and identified my hook for hyper-personalizing my message — he had published a “Year in Review” on Wunderlist highlighting a few of his achievements that year. His tweet was hearted and retweeted several times, which led me to believe this was his moment of Internet fame and a personal achievement he was sincerely proud of accomplishing.

So I thought: Why not celebrate that moment with him to help create a human-to-human connection?  

I reached out with a short note — no more than 50 words — to congratulate him. Then after my hyper-personalization, I pivoted to share the other reason I was contacting him. His response? “I normally don’t respond to recruiting emails but must admit this one is quite personalized.”

Now, I would love to say we hired him but that didn’t happen — this time. As with everything in life, timing is key. He wasn’t at the right point in his career to make a change. But when that time does come, who do you think he’ll remember? He wasn’t looking for a job, he didn’t need to reply — but he did.

2. Make a connection by sharing your “why” and demonstrate an authentic curiosity about their career journey.

Here’s another example, this time from Tris Revill on my team. In this instance he found a post from a potential candidate I’ll call “Alex” for a job on our sales team. The candidate had expressed an interest in the science of people and what ultimately influences the decisions they make everyday.

The candidate’s post resonated with Tris who recognized the similarity in interests between Indeed and the candidate, so he sent an email describing the parallel. His tone was casual and sincere: “Here at Indeed we love the science of people, we have labour economics teams looking at how people move around the world, user researchers who do ethnographic studies and a sales training team that can teach you crazy tricks when talking to prospects.”

How long did it take? A few minutes. And did it work? Yes. He was successful in winning the attention of a highly sought after person in a very competitive market. The result? We now have another new employee joining our already 5,000+ strong team.

3. Have a clear call to action

Here’s the thing to remember. You can be as authentic as you want, but you also have to be clear about why it is that you’re writing. After all, an email from a complete stranger about your social media post might be flattering, but if you don’t include a call to action they’re going to miss the point.

This is a simple yet often overlooked strategy. If you’ve done this right, you should have their undivided attention. Now, what’s next?

Below are a few standard calls to action that my team uses.

  • I am assuming that we’d need to do something pretty compelling to pull you away from your current job. I think we are ready to do just that. Do you have 10 minutes to chat today?
  • I'm assuming you’re happy and may not be looking for anything new. Regardless, I'd love to connect on the phone to learn more about your career goals in case something changes in the future. Are you free this week to meet for coffee?

They work for us. Try them!

Keeping it real: Constraints, challenges and unanswered questions

OK, OK — I can hear some of you objecting: “I don’t have the time or enough available information to personalize every single message I send to job seekers, so how do I possibly scale this approach?”

Scalability is a challenge, it’s true. Hyper-personalization requires a greater time commitment, and you have to work around a lack of information when crafting your messages. On top of that, different levels of personalization are required in different countries around the globe. For example, what works with with a job seeker in Japan will be different than in the US.

The reality is that the number of messages you’ll be able to send will decrease because you’ll be focused on quality over quantity. You’ll be tempted to send out that same template you already sent to the 50 other job seekers you are trying to recruit for to the same job when there’s a lack of information.

But put in the time and this approach will pay bigger dividends. In an era where we are constantly chasing efficiency and productivity, wouldn’t you want to work smarter vs harder?  

The vital importance of connection

Throughout my career, job seekers have told me that it’s not always about which recruiter contacted me first but which recruiter connected with me first.

Hyper-personalization guides you to focus on the job seeker and their career journey by arming you with the creative inspiration necessary to make a real human to human connection in an otherwise impersonal experience.

And with today’s globalization of labor markets, it could provide you with a major competitive advantage as a recruiter. In a fragmented, depersonalized world, making that real, human-to-human connection is what really helps you stand out.