What’s more important in Recruiting: The Message or The Messenger?

So often in recruiting we get caught up in drafting the perfect recruiting message. We want it to be:

  • Personal
  • To the point
  • Show our culture
  • Give some information but too much information
  • We want a call to action

We are obssessed as recruiters in our messaging. Which begs the question, what is truly the most important part of the message? The message itself or who the message is coming from?

In my previous life I ran large corporate Talent Acquisition departments. Like every organization we had extremely hard to fill jobs, some of which were critical to our success.

My team had standard response rates with email and Inmail, maybe a little better because we would constantly test our subject lines which have a great deal to do with whether a person even opens your message, to begin with, but for the most part fairly average.

We were tasked with filling an executive role. We did the sourcing and knew exactly who we wanted to go after for the position. We had a “hit list” of ten, but ultimately there were three candidates we knew we had to talk to.

We did all the standard outreach. Sent email messages. Tried to connect with them on LinkedIn. Sent them Inmails. Called them at their work and left messages. We changed up messsaging and did it all again. But none of our Big 3 responded.

This is when I went to our CEO and asked him if he would allow me to send three emails from his email account, from him, to these three individuals. I showed him exactly what would be sent and we did some tweaking to make him feel comfortable, and we pushed “Send”.

All three responded within 24 hours. All three set up interviews for the position. We offered one who accepted.

In my time with that CEO we did this four other times for critical positions. Our response rate to the CEO was between 80-90%. My own team’s response rate was under 30%. I’ve also tested this with Hiring Managers in IT, and it also works really well. Not as well as the CEO test, but much higher than an average Recruiter.

I’m not saying that what you say in your message doesn’t matter. If the candidate doesn’t know you or your brand, that your messaging still has to be good. All things being equal in messaging, and the candidate does care who the message is coming from!


Tim Sackett is the President of HRU and an industry thought leader in Talent Acquisition and Recruiting. Author of the best selling book, The Talent Fix, and the President of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals. Tim writes every day about Talent, HR and Leadership on his personal blog The Tim Sackett Project.

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