Recruitment Clinic: How to BD Over Email

Is there anything more frustrating to a Recruiter than hearing these words, “You have reached the voicemail for…”?

The cruel reality of recruitment is that this will happen often. Really often. If you make 50 calls a day (and I hope you do), you’re probably hearing a variation of this at least 20 times.

Invariably, it’s the manager that you know has three hot contract roles, or that candidate who has the perfect skill set for your key client, who never seems to pick up the phone.

And still, we persist. Because that’s what we’re trained to do. Pick up the phone. Make sales calls. Sell.

You can’t sell by e-mail. Can you?

I think it’s about time we look at ‘Plan C’.

Maybe I should clarify Plan A and B first?

Our job as Recruiters is to gather as much information as possible, and to use this to match the most suitable services and solutions we can provide.

The information is verbal or non-verbal. When we are face to face, we gather all of the non-verbal information on offer to help us do our job more effectively. That includes tone, conviction, body language etc. And then we use all of the same tools to give our message the same clarity.

Plan A is face to face.

Plan B is a spoken conversation, where there are no visual cues, i.e. a phone call.

All too often, we can’t go to Plan A without Plan B, and Plan B gets as far as 6 rings before we get the automated voicemail of doom.

So… Plan C it is then.

But how do you effectively sell on an email?

1) First… you’ll need to choose your platform

Earlier in this series, we looked at the role of social media in the Recruiter’s world and choosing appropriate mediums for your message is paramount. You might even choose multiple platforms, but think about where your candidates are active. It might not be the trusty old email or LinkedIn.

Don’t panic. You’ll still probably end up on e-mail most of the time.


2) Secondly, you need to build your message…

There are so many metrics available to you in recruitment to measure response rates, and track outcomes from your messaging. They all tell you that the standard template e-mail is ineffective.

Every time I look at my LinkedIn feed, I see updates from disgruntled professionals complaining about inappropriate or impersonal approaches from Recruitment consultants. If you’re going to make the effort to reach out, put in the effort required to get a positive response.

You know how angry you feel when you get those phone calls from someone who tells you that you’ve been in a car accident? Don’t be a part of that.

Get personal. And I don’t mean sharing your deepest secrets, or your darkest fears. I mean, make the message mean something to the recipient.

There’s no excuse for not knowing anything about the person you’re contacting. Information is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes.

If it’s a client, you should be able to show that you understand what their team looks like, and therefore how you can bring them the kind of talent they’ll be interested in.

If it’s a candidate, you should be able to compare their career trajectory with other people in their space, and offer genuine insight into where they could land next. Including salary, industry, role etc…

It doesn’t take long to put together a couple of compelling facts that make a message mean something, and make your approach more likely to elicit a response.


3) Finally, it’s time for finesse

I know it sounds basic, but be absolutely sure that you haven’t made any spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors. These things might not seem important if you’re a technical Recruiter, but it’s the only way to convey your professionalism in writing.

Good spelling will not win you deals, but a sloppy message can cost a relationship.

Then there’s the all important Subject. The metrics say that short and sweet (50 characters or less) is best. Questions work really well, but don’t over punctuate!!!!

And remember to make it personal. You’ve made the effort, so it’s important they know that. Try something like: “Need more Oracle Fusion talent in Nottingham?”

And now, you’re good to go. But keep learning.

Remember that your market is different from everyone else’s, and you need to be the expert. Learn from what’s working for you and what isn’t. And keep changing it up.

Good luck, and remember, while email is the last resort, it’s possible to do it well.


Martin Jones is a Recruiter. From 1999 onwards, he’s worked across multiple sectors and geographies, generating revenue and leading teams. He is a Partner at KnownFour, building a pioneering recruitment business.