5 Rules For Contacting Sourced Candidates

It seems, at times, that those of us in the recruiting profession can be slow to catch on to trends or common sense norms. It’s not something that is unique to only this industry, and it likely has more to do with the void of common sense in the world, more than it has to do with any particular industry.

One of the great mysteries of mankind is the omnipresent deficit of common sense when it comes to contacting candidates for the first time. For social creatures who have spent decades interacting with other humans, the basics of beginning a dialogue seem to evade many recruiters. And that inability to do so effectively has made the term recruiter anathema to many in-demand candidates in the market.

But the beautiful part of being cognizant humans is that we can learn and change our behavior. We can be better than we are today when we reach out to a candidate. In fact, we have to be, if we want to remain relevant. Because, you know, the AI robots are coming to take our jobs and stuff.

Here are a few things to remember before you hit send next time:

  1. What’s In A Name

Sourcers and recruiters alike spend copious amounts of time researching candidates. We’re looking for the right mix of skill sets, the level of experience, and Github repos. And though we spend all the time vulturing around their profiles, we still manage to butcher their names or use a shortening of the name as a way to make it more “personalized.” How do you know Sriram likes to be called “Sri” or that James lets anyone but his aunt Tilly call him “Jimmy?” You don’t, so when you are looking at all those profiles and websites where the candidate has a presence, don’t assume. Rather, take an extra minute to see how they identify themselves.

  1. It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere

Just because you’re up and at it by 7 am each day, doesn’t necessarily mean that the person you are trying to reach is. When you call someone, especially if it’s a cold or unscheduled call, you should be acutely aware of what time zone your candidate is in. The same rule applies for future communications, and particularly when you schedule a screening call with someone. Make sure you are clear about what time zone you are referring to in the body of your email. The person you’re trying to reach will appreciate you respecting them enough not to awaken them at the legendarily evil 5 am hour.

Not sure? Google the time zone, or use this handy tool.

  1. Keep It Short and Sweet 

While the goal of reaching out to a candidate is to intrigue them enough to respond back to you (hopefully in a positive way), you need to be aware of how much content is in these emails you are sending. There’s no reason to send what equates to a recruiting manifesto in an email. Include a link to the job you’re interested in them for, but transcribing it in the message is plain overkill.

Get to the point of why you are reaching out to them quickly in the message. Many people are reading these on the go, or at work, and can’t devote a chunk of time reading the drivel your HR department spit out in Word.

  1. No More Name Calling

We need to stop this. Seriously. This quixotic fixation with calling candidates “gurus,” “ninjas” or anything else that even falls in this realm is mind-boggling. Keep in mind that in many cases; these are people you have never met. Throw “thought leader” in this mix of banned names, just because that one is bunk too.

This logic applies to other grandiose labels we project onto the object of our recruiting desires, such as telling someone they are “perfect for this role.” If you can tell that from a Snapchat or Tinder* profile, then you’re probably blowing it wasting your time in recruiting. I magic show at the Wynn in Vegas beckons, my friend.

*(If you are sourcing and recruiting on Tinder, please contact me. I want to interview you. Seriously.)

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  1. Have A Call To Action In The Email

After you’ve spent an enormous amount of time trying to identify and reach out to a candidate, make sure they know what to do with your message. You might want to ask them to respond even if they aren’t interested. Not that this will work all the time, but there’s something to be said for taking the first steps in initiating a long-term dialogue. We all know that what is not a fit today, could be tomorrow.

Whatever you do, for the love of everything holy, don’t just blast them a job and instruct them to apply at the link if they are interested. It’s cold, and screams “mass email.”


Your Daily Moment Of Zen

These are essential tenets of recruiting. These are the things that should be part of training for all recruiters and sourcers. We’re constantly looking for ways to personalize, and we’re likely all guilty of jumping at the flashiest new tool to help us do our job at one time or another. In doing so, we often look past the things that mean the most in that first interaction.

Take a minute to take a proverbial look in the mirror next time before you hit send, and make sure you have those basic tenets down.


Pete Radloff is a veteran recruiter, sourcer, and consultant, who has been in the industry since 2000, with experience in both agency and corporate settings. Pete’s passion stretches across several areas of talent acquisition, including recruitment and sourcing, social media, employment branding, recruitment operations and the training and mentoring of recruiters.

Currently the Principal Technical Recruiter for comScore, and a Lead Consultant with exaqueo, Pete has previously worked for other high-growth organizations such as NPR and LivingSocial. In addition to recruiting top talent both in the U.S. and abroad for these companies, Pete has developed successful recruitment and sourcing frameworks, recruitment processes and procedures, and enhancements to the candidate experience to enhance employer brand. He also has deep experience in recruitment systems selection and implementation, vendor selection and HR Tech & Sourcing tool evaluation.

Being part of the local recruiting community in DC has always been important to Pete. He was a member of Board of Directors for recruitDC since for 6 years, and has also been a speaker at several recruitDC events. He is also a contributing writer at RecruitingDaily and SourceCon.

You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter, or at his site, RecruitingIn3D






6 Comments on “5 Rules For Contacting Sourced Candidates

  1. The first “rule” I’d suggest isn’t even listed here.

    These “candidates” aren’t “candidates” until they say they are.

    Until then they’re “potential” or “prospective” candidates and unless we step back and
    assess how we think about these “candidates” and the places in the Recruitosphere they occupy we’re never going to get very far.

    Many of them were lured into the LinkedIn Venus flytrap with the promise of “business networking” alliances dangled before their career-minded eyes and little did they suspect they were signing themselves into a database that was becoming the biggest food trough for recruiters in history.

    Now that just about every recruiter in the world uses LinkedIn as their database they also have the mindset that everyone on LinkedIn is looking for a job.

    Like the Democrats in this past election, they’re taking a whole lot for granted.

    1. Maureen, thanks for injecting politics. I havent been seeing enough of that lately. This was more about the outreach and less about the status of the candidate nor the source they came from, but thanks for your input. I appreciate you reading it.

      1. Hey! You’re welcome! But I’m talking about the outreach and how we think about and platform the message to who we’re “reaching out” to.


  2. Thanks for sharing this @peteradloff:disqus . As a candidate (and who has hired a lot of people in the past as manager), I would love to share one more.

    One of the frustrations for a serious candidate who is looking for a change is that first screening call – where scheduling is a pain – either planning where to take it from (from car, has to work from home, conference room on another floor :)) etc). Or, it takes days to just have that first call done with the recruiter. (multiple this by all the recruiters you are talking to).

    I thought of solving this via Recruitring.com – all it does it records your questions as a recruiter (in your own voice) and candidates can answer your questions (via a call) whenever they have time – and you can hear their answers (or get transcript too).

    Would love your feedback on such an experience.

    1. @sujay_recruitring:disqus

      I think that there’s some merit in a tool like that, but I want to here the inflection in someone’s voice, how they answer off the cuff questions, etc. I think there are a number of calendar invite tools out there (Calendly etc) that can help reduce the back and forth with scheduling. Thanks for reading.

      1. @peteradloff:disqus I completely agree with your point. Infact, we are advocating that a tool like Recruitring.com can provide a better filter mechanism – and then the recruiter and hiring team can place that in-person screening call. But now they are using their and candidates time with better conviction and data.

        There are tools which help you rank resumes – for productivity purpose – Recruitring.com is also a time saver tool to rank the pre-screening calls priority.

        I am a fan of Calendly myself – however it manages calendar more effectively.

        Thanks again for your time and feedback!

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