You’ve done the Boolean search and have identified your top ten possible candidates. You’re ready to reach out on LinkedIn InMail. But how best to make qualified candidates take notice of your job opening? Enter the art of the letter.
In today’s talk-to-text, private message, LOL-heavy, emoji-filled world, even your more seasoned applicants probably haven’t written a letter in quite some time. And entry-level targets, LinkedIn's fastest-growing demographic of more than 40 million students and recent college graduates, might not have ever put pen to paper in that way. We’re not suggesting you break out the notepad either; but we are suggesting harkening back to the days of letter writing for inspiration in order to make that critical first impression the very best impression possible.
It starts with hello
Often, people don’t give a lot of thought to their greeting, but you should. Your greeting is the first word or few words of your communication, and it sets the tone for what’s to come. Right off the bat, it hints at your company or organizational culture. You can choose from:
Dear, hello, hi, hey, howdy, greetings
First name, full name or Mr./Mrs./Ms. last name
Comma, semicolon, colon, dash, nothing (keep exclamation points to a minimum)
A note on hi versus dear in the battle of the comma. As Grammar Girl explains in Dear Comma, the words dear and hi are different—dear is an adjective and hi is an interjection—so if you want to be grammatically correct, correspondence that starts with hi should have a comma before the person’s name. Dear You. Hi, You. Clear?
It continues with The Why
Only around 35-45 characters of your InMail show up in a target’s All Messages summary, so make your first sentence count by avoiding unnecessary filler. But you don’t have to be literal—or expected—by beginning your letter with, “I’m writing because…” Shake it up to get noticed. Keeping in mind that lists, questions and customization increase readership, here’s some first-line inspiration, under 40 characters each.
Where do you see yourself next year?
Are you happy in your current role?
5 reasons you’re a great candidate:
Ready to smile more at work?
Up for a professional challenge?
Are you the ROLE we’re looking for?
Continue by telling the recipient what you saw in his/her LinkedIn profile that made you think he/she could be the right fit for your current opening.
In another brief paragraph, explain what’s great about the position and your company or organization. Limit this section to 3-5 sentences featuring facts like data from employee surveys, nationally recognized accolades and exceptional benefits. Bring it home with a personal note about why you, yourself, enjoy working where you do.
Don’t forget the CTA
You’d never leave a loose end in a marketing piece, and you shouldn’t do it in a letter either. Call out your call-to-action at the end of your letter. Sample recruitment CTAs include:
Click to read more about the position
Ready? Apply now
Happy where you are? Follow us on LinkedIn to keep in touch
Want to hear more? Message back today for a phone interview next week
Wrap it up with a bow
Just like your greeting, your closing counts—and the wrong one can leave candidates feeling uneasy. Make sure your style maps to the style of your greeting. In other words, don’t begin with, “Dear Mr. Adams,” if you’re planning to close with, “Rock on.” Consider carefully your options:
More formal: Best regards, best, regards, all the best, warm regards, sincerely, yours truly
More casual: Cheers, peace, take care, thank you, speak soon, look forward to hearing from you
Many people abbreviate closings, as in rgds or thx, or explain that they are writing quickly with rushing or in haste—avoid giving prospects the feeling that you don’t have time for them by using one of those closings. Similarly, best wishes and take care, while appropriate in many situations, could sound like a permanent sendoff. Experts argue on the validity of thanks for an introductory letter since the recipient hasn’t done anything yet to earn the praise, but if you do use thanks, thank you or thanks so much, be sure to never follow it with a period. Thanks-period is a command, not an invitation to reply.
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