[Note: If you do nothing else, please proceed to the bottom of this page to vote and comment. We want your opinion on the effectiveness of LinkedIn InMails.]

The value LinkedIn places on an InMail is $10 each. Of course, you can get a volume discount if you buy the LinkedIn Recruiter seat. Several of my colleagues inform me that they are paying $7,000 or more for the seat. No doubt there is more to the LinkedIn Recruiter seat than unlimited InMail. However, there is an inferred value for InMails that is important to discuss and understand.

Let me be clear, LinkedIn is an amazing platform. Reid Hoffman, Jeff Weiner and company have convinced millions of professionals to share their workplace information online. It’s worked brilliantly, and I use it every single day. I think back when people I worked with in the late ’90’s were fired for placing their resume on a job board. Now the same companies that fired people actually encourage their employees to have a LinkedIn profile.

Word On The Street Is That InMail Response Rates Are Not Favorable

The majority of my industry contacts tell me that their response rate is between 10%-20%. By contrast, colleagues from big-name companies like Google have told me that they fetch a response rate of 70% using InMail. That seems to be an anomaly compared to the norm.

Tips on LinkedIn.com state that InMails are 30X more likely to be successful than a cold call.

You also have to consider the candidate side. Tech candidates often tell me that they are getting 5 or more InMails per week…and that is conservative. They say the messages start to look the same, and they cannot tell one opportunity from another. They say that they rarely check their InMail as it is. Yet, recruiters take to the InMail airwaves every week by the thousands.

With what recruiters and candidates are telling me, the “30x more likely to get a response” seems more bravado than substance. Perhaps when you compare them to cold calls they may be 30x. But how many folks are working the cold calling lines these days? It’s hard work, but if I am going to make cold calls at least I know I’ll get a few live people on the phone.

Good Thing You Are A Recruiter, And Not A Marketer

As SmartRecruiters’ CEO Jerome Ternynck recently put it, “if you are a Marketer running campaigns, you’d likely be out of a job with that kind of response rate“. Why then is it acceptable for an in-house recruiter being paid a lofty hourly sum to churn away in a messaging platform with minimal returns?

It’s clear that spending time on LinkedIn is a primary function in recruiting. As I said, I use the site every single day. I also happen to enjoy the site a great deal. However, results are results. If your LinkedIn InMail campaigns bring a low response rate, you need to evaluate how you are using the platform. That said, maybe what I’m hearing is not consistent with what is really happening in the market? Perhaps people are having a much more positive response on the InMail messaging platform.

What’s Your LinkedIn InMail Response Rate?

You’ve heard my version of the story from what I am hearing on the street. What I’m most interested in is to hear from you. What is your LinkedIn InMail response? What are your thoughts on how the messaging platform performs? I want to hear from you.

Jason Webster

Jason Webster is a social recruiting enthusiast and co-founder of Ongig, a platform that creates shareable, visually-appealing job descriptions. He has spoken at multiple social recruiting events, where his passion for candidate experience is the primary topic. Connect with Jason and Ongig on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

by in A-Players, hiring, Recruiters

  • David Li

    Hi Jason,

    My response rates are within the 20-30% mark. I also reviewed the poll and would like to know what the actual statistics are. I think writing down that some percentages are average vs awesome was a not right because we won’t know what average is until we get a sample of the results. And 51% at <20% seems to make that average according to your poll.

    My views on response rates:

    High response rate – It's not hard to believe Google can receive a 70% response rate, it's Google. We shouldn't kid ourselves that the brand matters. Most recruiters will freely admit it is a lot easier cold-calling from a top company like Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Red Hat [for all the programmers out there =) ]. I believe it would be the same for InMails.

    Low response rate – 1) I see a lot of Profiles that haven't been active/updated in quite a while. There a good chance that these candidates have not checked their LinkedIn in weeks/months/years. 2) There are many candidates that would prefer not to deal with agency recruiters vs in-house recruiters. 3) The send did not craft an effective message.

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  • Recruiter Bill

    My InMail response rate is closer to 25% based on what LI Recruiter is telling me.

    • Jason Webster

      Thanks for reading Bill. Appreciate you sharing your response ratio!

  • mikejruane

    I’ve only sent out about 10 InMails in the last 3 months or so as I’ll usually opt for alternate methods, however, out of those 10 InMails, I’ll probably get a response of 1, so I’m looking at about 10% – sounds accurate to what you’re hearing on the street. At least they give your InMail ‘credits’ back if you don’t get a response in 7 days!

    • Jason Webster

      Thanks for reading Mike. Good point about getting your credit back. Seems like the right thing to do by LinkedIn.

  • mprovesales

    17 to 25% – which – by comparison to a typical direct mail campaign is decent – and as stated in an earlier comment – if there is no response you get a credit back. That being said $10.00 per inmail is entirely overpriced.

  • Sanjay

    definitely more than 25% for us anytime.. the most important thing is Subject line, Like for any normal email.. I write .. Candidates name – Job title – Location – Industry – Excellent Salary . In 6-7 words the subject line can tell the candidate if he/she would be interested or not.. It also depends on the type of roles you are recruiting for . We receive better response for Senior role than junior ones

    • Jason Webster

      Thanks Sanjay…appreciate you sharing your conversion rate, and how you’re able to achieve it. Best of luck…..JW

  • Mark Dinan

    Response rate depends on what role and company the recruiter is working on. Professionals who live and breathe social media (marketers, Product Managers, Sales) always reply. The high end engineers I recruit are much less likely to respond. 10% seems about right overall, but I get a 30-40% response for product managers or leadership roles, and as low as 2-5% for the premier software engineers. And by premier software engineer, I mean software engineer in Silicon Valley building product for a technology company. And yes – if you send an inmail directly from a company like Google or Apple the candidate is more likely to respond. Most start-ups do not have brand recognition, and as a result are much harder to recruiter for, which is where I and my team come in. I have mixed up my messaging on a variety of occasions, but what it comes down to is if a candidate is looking, they will respond. I am sure customizing and spending lots of time on messaging has a marginal increase in response, but the time spent doing this and hitting up non-active candidates is a trade-off I choose not to make, unless for very specific leadership roles. I would rather hit a wide swath of the candidate pool and get the guy who is just starting a search than spend 10x the time looking for candidates and limit the number of messages sent out. (LinkedIn has also fouled up our account, so I am not sure what stats are valid at this point – there have been some pretty gross failures on their engineering team regarding our account).

    • Jason Webster

      Hi Mark. Your take is spot on. I agree that the response varies by the type of person you are messaging. Appreciate you sharing your experience.

  • Guest

    25-50% depending on the position..

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  • Marcus

    Sending 10 inmails on LinkedIn is $100. I found the service to be extremely expensive for the uncertainty of a response back plus all the plans are way over-priced. All it takes is a few years and a better/cheaper similar app/website/technology and LinkedIn will be out of business. Mark my words it will happen.

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