Hyper-personalized candidate outreach for recruiting at scale

Apr 26, 20227 minutes read

Recruiting tech talent in today’s market presents three bottlenecks at the very top of the funnel:

  1. It takes days, weeks, or even months to source qualified candidates.
  2. It takes unique and engaging recruitment messages to stand out amidst the deluge of outreach emails that top engineers, product managers, and data scientists receive daily, but personalized outreach campaigns are impossibly resource-intensive to maintain at scale. 
  3. It requires systems and attention to detail to answer candidate replies in a timely manner before another company responds faster.

This article discusses how Celential’s AI-powered Virtual Recruiting solution elevates personalized candidate outreach to a new level for outbound recruiting automation.

We’ll use examples from our own email campaigns to explain how our system collects deep insights into candidates, companies, and opportunities. We’ll go on to explain how it leverages this information to generate hyper-customized and career-relevant messages that get top-tier candidates to reply to your outbound messages.

Foundation of hyper-personalized candidate outreach: Talent Graph

Celential.ai improves upon existing recruitment technology by converting thousands of disparate signals and hundreds of data sources into a cohesive vertical talent graph for specific recruiting domains. The image below depicts a snippet of our talent graph centered around a passive candidate, Adrian, and a hiring company, ABC Co, within our primary vertical, software engineering.

celential talent graph example
This diagram illustrates how Celential.ai’s talent graph matches the ideal candidate, Adrian, to a company, ABC Co., that is actively hiring for relevant roles. The mutual fit is identified through the candidate’s educational background, product domain knowledge, work experience, professional connection, as well as skill proficiency inferred from technical community contributions and publications. 
  • It represents comprehensive knowledge about talent and companies collected from many sources to assess a mutual fit between candidates and hiring teams.
  • It infers which skills candidates possess and how strong they are with them through projects, papers, and community engagement. 
  • It considers the candidate’s education and career trajectory, experience in product domains, and expertise with the technologies that match the pitched opportunity.
  •  It establishes an organic connection between the candidate and members of the hiring team based on shared work and educational history.

Want to learn more about our propriety talent graph? Check out this post where we explain how it goes beyond a typical recruiting database to enable talent search and engagement at scale.

Next, let’s look at how Celential.ai develops hyper-personalized candidate outreach from this deep talent knowledge using machine learning and natural language processing technologies.

What is automated hyper-personalized candidate outreach?

Automated hyper-personalized candidate outreach uses software programs to generate outbound messages for candidates tailored to their background and experience. Then it contacts the candidates at scale and manages follow-up engagement by suggesting a recruiter’s course of action. 

Celential.ai’s Virtual Recruiter automates hyper-personalized candidate outreach while keeping humans in the loop to ensure accuracy and accountability in the process.

Instead of manual efforts to identify and pitch candidate matches, recruiters can simply turn on our solution and it will start contacting the qualified candidates it has identified immediately.

Hyper-personalized candidate outreach messages 

Hyper-personalized candidate outreach messages include detailed information such as experience, skills, education, job tenure, and commonalities with members of the hiring team. 

Celential.ai’s Virtual Recruiter creates these messages for candidates it has discovered in our Talent Graph and the signals housed in our recruiting database.

The message example below is developed from the talent graph snippet shown in the previous section.

hyper-personalized email example
Using advanced machine learning technology, our Virtual Recruiter generates and sends messages to passive candidates at scale. Each email is tailored to the candidate’s background and trajectory while pitching the ideal job fit.

Of course, the solution ensures that the message only highlights the most relevant information. For example, it won’t highlight a candidate’s education if they went to a school that’s significantly less impressive on paper than their subsequent professional accomplishments.

To compose a complete outreach email, Celential.ai’s Virtual Recruiter weaves this hyper-personalized message about the candidate with a hand-written pitch about the hiring company and the particular role, highlighting a strong mutual fit between the candidate and the opportunity.

Personalized pitch messages that elaborate on the mutual fit can lead to reply rates as high as 30% for cold outreach. 

Candidate Feedback

candidate response

Here are two examples of feedback from candidates that were contacted by our Virtual Recruiter. The first candidate clearly notes the difference between Celential’s hyper-personalized outreach and the vast amount of emails they receive from recruiters daily. This is a telling sign that other recruiting solutions in the market claiming to offer personalized outreach never go much further than a customizable name field. 

The second candidate shows what’s compelling about weaving together the human and machine-written components that go into our outreach campaigns. As Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla once said, “Having facts on your side isn’t enough. You have to do storytelling.” In today’s market, a candidate telling you from the first email that there’s a good story for why they should work with you is like striking gold. 

Sentiment analysis for automated candidate reply processing

Sending out the initial pitch message is only the first half of the personalized candidate outreach automation. For a truly end-to-end solution, we leverage natural language processing to analyze a candidate’s reply, determine the best response and then create it. 

Our Virtual Recruiting system begins by scanning for indications of positivity or negativity within a message, then hones in on a number of common recruiting scenarios:

  • A candidate who is interested, but mentions requiring H1B sponsorship in replying to a company that does not offer it will be flagged as not being a match.
  •  A candidate who says they are interested, but not available until a specified point in the future will be responded to and marked for automated re-engagement at that point.
  • A candidate who requests not to be contacted will not be pitched again.
sentiment analysis
Our Virtual Recruiter leverages natural language processing to analyze a candidate’s
reply. It identifies a number of common recruiting scenarios determines the best
response and then combines human engagement with automation.

Our Virtual Recruiter earns its name by automatically processing common scenarios, then creating auto-responses or notifying the human recruiter that there is an opportunity to engage with the candidate personally. This frees up valuable time for recruiting teams that would normally be spent on follow-up or reading emails to focus on creating a valuable experience for the highest-priority candidates.

Why companies need hyper-personalized candidate outreach

Today’s tech labor market represents an exceptional imbalance between the supply and the demand for talent. With only 3.4% of software engineers actively looking for a job, companies have no choice but to pursue passive candidates.

In our experience, it’s not the case that these passive candidates are truly closed to new opportunities. Rather, they’re closed to the irrelevant, uninteresting opportunities that they hear about ten times a day and that they know are being pitched to hundreds of other people along with themselves.

You need to tell candidates a personalized story about why they should work with you, and you need to make sure the candidate is the main character in that story. If all you have are the facts from your side – what you’re paying, who’s backing you, what tech stack you’re working in – you’ll lose every time to whoever is paying more, has bigger names in their corner, and is working in whatever the candidate actually happens to work in.

However, companies that offer an opportunity that is aligned with a candidate’s values will always win against a bigger paycheck and the right buzzwords. We’ve seen it time and time again at Celential – carefully crafted, hyper-personalized outreach has allowed even the smallest startups to pull talent from some of the biggest names out there on the force of that initial enthusiasm for the opportunity.

But a human recruiter, engineering leader, or a startup executive pulling double duty to maintain a personalized outreach campaign is not scalable and that’s where we come in. 

Via our vertical talent graph, our Virtual Recruiter condenses hours of research into individual candidates into repeatable, personal outreach messages. We offer a solution that preserves the human element of recruiting while automating the most time-consuming tasks. AI will never replace the human interaction that is required by recruiters to engage and close passive candidates, and our Virtual Recruiter gives them more time to do it.

Reach out to our team if you’d like to learn more about how Celential.ai’s Virtual Recruiter can help your team make cost-effective hires.

This blog is written by Cory Charpentier and contributed by the Celential marketing and engineering teams.


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Celential.ai has been acquired by Wellfound! Read the announcement here.