Do InMails Actually Work? Yes, If You Know How to Use Them

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Nearly 100 percent of all recruiters use LinkedIn to source candidates, which means you have some stiff competition if you’re looking for your next hire on the platform.

But you can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn, either. It’s pretty much the only game in town when it comes to professional networking sites. Sure, there are more niche sites — like your AngelLists and Quoras — and those should definitely be on every recruiter’s radar. But LinkedIn boasts 720+ million users; Quora has roughly half that, and AngelList clocks in at a self-reported 2.3 million candidates.

Similarly, the more popular social networks don’t have anywhere near the wealth of candidate information LinkedIn has. Twitter is, at this point, mostly people either getting mad or telling jokes (and sometimes both at once). You won’t walk away from a person’s Facebook page knowing how many years of experience they have, but you probably will know what conspiracies they’re into.

This brings us back to LinkedIn: It’s overcrowded, but it’s still the reigning champ. Is there any way to stand out amid all the #inspirational stories, thinly veiled sales pitches, and mass recruiter messages? A way to show candidates that you, unlike many of your competitors, have something genuinely valuable to offer them?

Well, there’s always InMail.

What Are InMails?

As a recruiter, you’re likely well-acquainted with InMails, but for the uninitiated: InMails are a distinct type of direct message on LinkedIn. While you can chat with any of your connections, you can only message the people with whom you’re not connected by using InMails. And you can only send InMails if you have a premium account.

The average InMail has a 10-25 percent response rate. Credit where credit is due, that blows your average email out of the water. Still, it leaves 75-90 percent of your candidates who simply aren’t responding to your messages on LinkedIn.

That said, there are ways to boost your InMail response rates.

4 Tips for Writing the Best InMails

Recently, LinkedIn analyzed tens of millions of InMails sent by recruiters between April 2020 and February 2021 to answer the question: Which InMails get the best response rates?

As the research showed, it turns out there is a trick to getting more InMail responses, and it’s not even a particularly complicated one. In a nutshell: Keep your messages simple, personalized, and targeted, and you’ll hear back from more candidates.

Let’s take a closer look at the four keys to better InMails, according to LinkedIn:

1. Keep It Under 400 Characters

You can fit up to 2,000 characters in the body of a single InMail, but you probably don’t want to use all of them. According to LinkedIn, shorter is better.

InMails in the 200-400 character range have a 16 percent higher response rate than the average, and there’s a steady downward trend from there. The 400-600 character range will net you a +9 percent response rate against the average, and 600-800 characters will earn you a 3 percent improvement.

On the flip side, anything above 800 characters actually performs worse than the average. Above 1400 characters, you’re looking at 18 percent fewer responses.

2. Stick to Sending InMails on Business Days

Monday through Thursday is the best window for InMails. Messages sent on Mondays have a 2 percent higher response rate than the average, while messages sent on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday have a 1 percent higher response rate.

Responses rates start to slip on Friday (-3 percent against the average), bottoming out at -13 percent on Saturday.

That said, it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid sending InMails on the weekend. According to Linked, less than 5 percent of all InMails are sent on Saturdays and Sundays. You’re probably already adhering to this particular best practice.

3. Personalize Your InMails

Putting together a template and sending a mass message to all your top prospects is, of course, a heck of a lot easier than writing custom InMails for every candidate. The downside, however, is that it’s also much less effective.

According to LinkedIn, individually sent InMails have a 20 percent higher response rate than mass messages. Similarly, InMails that are written specifically for an individual candidate perform 20 percent better than InMails based on a template.

4. Active Candidates Are More Likely to Respond to Your Messages

Everyone loves a passive candidate, but workers who are happy in their current roles are far more likely to bin your InMail without so much as a word in return.

LinkedIn’s analysis found that InMails sent to candidates who indicate they are open to work have a 75 percent higher response rate than those sent to candidates who are not publicly advertising their availability.

The seemingly universal preference for passive candidates aside, this is pretty good news. More than a quarter of American workers want to quit their jobs after the pandemic — and they’ll be very receptive to your InMails.

Provided, of course, you can keep the message under 400 characters.

Read more in Using LinkedIn

Matthew Kosinski is the former managing editor of