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Study: Candidates’ Communication Preferences for Being Contacted by Recruiters

Study: Candidates’ Communication Preferences for Being Contacted by Recruiters

How do you prefer to be approached by a recruiter about a potential job opening?

That’s what we asked candidates around the globe for the Hudson/HRO Today’s 2016 Global Candidate Study to help recruiters fine-tune their hiring strategies. Below are the responses from the North American candidates.


Candidate Preference for Being Contacted by Recruiters

Source: Hudson/HRO Today 2016 Global Candidate Study, North American results

Candidates were very clear about their preference, with 89.6 percent selecting email for initial contact. Even passive candidates, who are less inclined to desire any sort of contact, preferred email contact (79.1 percent). Phone calls (57.7 percent) and LinkedIn messages (44.9 percent) were the next two most preferred methods.

It’s best to start with an email outlining the job so candidates have a reference when recruiters call. Those candidates aged 45-55+ may be the exception, with more than 65 percent being open to phone calls for the initial contact.


“Candidates are your external customer. They are ‘buying’ a job. A sales person would never email a prospect the full product brochure and ask, 'Do you want to buy this?' Yet, that is what recruiters are doing when they send the full job ad to a candidate on a cold outreach. You’ve got to sell the story. What is in it for them? Something like, ‘We’re working on cancer vaccines. Would you like to help us cure cancer?’ is far more compelling than a job ad and 'if you aren’t interested, can you connect me with someone who might be?'” Mike Wolford, Sourcing Manager, Hudson Americas

 “You need to set yourself apart and stand out in the crowd. It’s about personalizing the emails. The time of day that you send the message also matters. Send the message when people are likely on their phones, such as first thing in the morning before work, during lunch, or after work between 6 and 8PM. This applies to sending social media messages as well.” Kasey Butler, Senior Client Relationship Manager, Hudson Americas

However, your email must be customized…

Impact of Customized Email on Response Rate

Source: Hudson/HRO Today 2016 Global Candidate Study, North American results

Customizing email is absolutely essential in getting both active and passive candidates to respond. Overall, 85.1 percent of candidate respondents indicated they would be more likely to respond to a customized email from a recruiter, with nearly two-thirds (61.5 percent) of them being much more likely to respond.

While passive candidates are always less likely to respond to any method of recruiter contact than active candidates, customizing emails significantly improves the likelihood of responses from this talent segment.

We then asked recruiters:
What is the impact of customized email on candidates' response rates?

Recruiters Rate the Impact of Customized Email on Candidate Response Rates

Source: Hudson/HRO Today 2016 Global Candidate Study, North American results

More than 85 percent of candidates say customized email affects response rate. Of the recruiters surveyed, nearly 93 percent believe that customized email has an impact on candidate response rates, yet 21 percent of recruiters surveyed do not customize email copy.

Through good storytelling that describes the company’s mission and how the candidate could play an important part in that mission, prospects are more likely to imagine themselves in the role and begin to consider making a change. The story starts with an intriguing subject line and ends with a time-specific call to action, such as asking if they are available for a phone call the next day to discuss the opportunity.1


“The more you customize an email with at least four different message points targeted to the candidate, the higher your response rate. That said, I find where recruiters often fall short when it comes to emailing is in the follow up. Don’t just email a candidate one time. Send a follow-up message! Just don’t use a ‘form letter’ email.” Mike Wolford, Sourcing Manager, Hudson Americas

“To build trust quickly, recruiters need to find a common ground to include in their email messages. Things like, ‘Hey, I see we both attended University XYZ,’ or ‘A close friend of mine [person’s name] also worked at Acme Company, do you know her?’ These icebreakers help establish a comfort level for talking about specific jobs.” Kasey Butler, Senior Client Relationship Manager, Hudson Americas

Recruiting Ice-Breaker Tip

If finding common ground is difficult, use the Crystal Google Chrome add-on. Crystal conducts personality assessments on people based on their online activity and gives advice on how to best engage with them when reaching out.

To download the complete results of HUDSON/HRO TODAY’S 2016 Global Candidate Study, click here


Sources cited:

1Adler, Lou. “10 Email Best Practices for Attracting Passive Candidates.” LinkedIn, Talent Blog. 24 March 2015

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