Why Personalization Is The Key To Recruiting

This post originally appeared in Forbes.

How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? How many emails have you responded to today? How many videos have you watched?

There has never been more competition for our eyes and ears. We're awash in stimuli almost every waking moment. The constant bombardment of our senses is chipping away at an already limited attention span.

To cut through the noise, media organizations are embracing personalization. Audio has been doing this for awhile with Pandora, Spotify and others serving up tailored playlists based on your musical tastes. Established broadcasters like NPR, have followed suit. Netflix is famous for their personalized content suggestion. All of these efforts are an attempt to get and maintain attention by catering to their audience's specific needs.

The increasing demand and ability to deliver personalized content tailored to the needs and characteristics of individuals means you need a much wider range of content reflecting different interests. This is certainly true in recruiting, where candidates have never been more distracted with various media channels – or bombarded by recruiters.

In recruiting, personalization means taking the time to research your prospects to identify aspects of their background (experience, interests, education, location, etc.) that can help you tailor your outreach to increase your odds of getting a candidate’s attention.

It comes down to demonstrating you’ve taken the time to do some homework before reaching out. What it means is that you value people's time, and are reaching out because you’ve made an informed assessment of their alignment with a particular position.

Personalization means telling a candidate why you’re contacting them. “You have a great background” is the same line a dozen other recruiters have used that week. Explain why s/he has a great background, and how it aligns with the job and company is a much more personalized (and productive) way of reaching out.

Cutting Through The Spam

[tweet_quote display="Finding talent has never been easier. Cutting through the spam and seizing their attention has never been harder."]Finding talent has never been easier. Cutting through the spam and seizing their attention has never been harder.[/tweet_quote]

Both statements are true. The recruiting world is awash with bad emails from lazy recruiters who treat them like a spam machine. Those generic templates lie dormant in junk files, and busy candidates become allergic to clear mass-communications.

Direct 1:1 outreach, when done in a tailored and non-creepy (mentioning alma mater – good, specifying marital status – bad) allows recruiters to capture attention, and increases the chances of your outreach engagement and conversion.

The following excerpt from an interview with a Yahoo! recruiter illustrates this point well:

“In my personal experience, the more personalized the email, the better the response rate. For example, when I send a mildly tailored email, I usually get a 25% response rate. However, when I really customize the email and show the candidate I’ve done my homework, the response rate jumps to 60-70%. More importantly, when they do respond to me, I usually get something like, “It’s so refreshing to be contacted by someone who has done their homework.” That’s important to me because it sets the tone for our conversation and gets the candidate more willing to hear about the opportunity I have in mind for them.”

Five Recruiting Tips To Drive Conversion

Personalization shows that you took the time to go a bit further, and that difference can help you stand out and make a great first impression with candidates. Here are some tips to help you successfully cut through the spam and get your communication read.

• Avoid templates: Many recruiters lean too heavily on generic templates for mass outreach. This approach may work for some positions where prospects are more likely to switch jobs, but has little chance for niche or in-demand talent. This doesn’t mean every email must be hand-written from scratch, but it does mean a degree or personalization will increase your odds of conversion.

• Minimize jargon: “I have an outstanding value proposition full of synergies with your portfolio.” Unless you were playing buzzword bingo, that jargon-filled message would result in a swift click of the delete/junk button. [tweet_quote display="Use real language. Talk like a human. Natural language is more likely to be relatable and get a response."]Use real language. Talk like a human. That natural vernacular is more likely to be relatable, capturing a prospect’s attention and increasing the chances of a response.[/tweet_quote]

• Make it visual: Scroll through your inbox. What catches your attention? Probably not the plain text emails. Perhaps it’s the newsletter with the branded header? Take a page out of email marketing’s playbook and use tools like MixMax to create dynamic emails that allow you to include images, videos, links, and other assets to help your email stand out.

• Personalize everything: Any initial outreach to a candidate should include at least one personalized element that demonstrates you’ve taken the time to explore their background. With the amount of information on the social web, true “cold calls” should be a thing of the past.

• Include a specific call to action (CTA): Why are you contacting this person and what do you seek? A referral? An application? General networking? Be clear about your intent so candidates know you appreciate their time and understand why you’re contacting them.

What are your tips on personalization? Leave a comment below with your thoughts and tips.