LinkedIn Outreach 101: Ultimate Guide for College Students

Last update on:
LinkedIn Outreach Networking Handshake

Time to Read: 9 minutes

Have you ever meticulously crafted a LinkedIn message to a recruiter, only to be met with silence or a generic response? If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many new students don’t know the art of connecting effectively with recruiters on LinkedIn. Let’s change that – go from getting ignored to noticed.


  • Understanding Recruiters: Success in reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn starts with understanding their perspective, targeting those filling entry-level roles, and personalizing your approach.
  • Crafting Messages: Effective communication with recruiters involves concise, personalized messages that showcase your research, relate your experiences to their needs, and propose clear next steps.
  • Beyond Messaging: Building meaningful professional relationships on LinkedIn requires more than just initial messages; it’s about continuous, tailored engagement and demonstrating how you can address a recruiter’s needs.

The Misconception of Direct Outreach

Imagine this: You find the perfect job listing, and you think, “I’ll stand out if I message the recruiter directly on LinkedIn.” You spend hours drafting a thoughtful message, hit send, and… crickets. Sound familiar? You’re not alone in this experience.

Many students believe that direct messaging recruiters is their golden ticket, but in reality, it’s more like sending a message into a void.

The fact is recruiters are inundated with messages and responsibilities. According to Top Echelon, recruiters make an average of 40 – 75 calls per day. It is not uncommon that they need to sift through hundreds of applications. Your well-intentioned direct message is just one of countless others crowding their inbox. The hard truth? It’s likely to be overlooked.

But here’s a glimmer of hope: it’s not about the message itself, but who, how, and when you send it. Understanding this nuance can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed.

Who Should I DM on LinkedIn?

As a student or recent graduate, there are three main ways that GradSimple recommends to maximize your chances of getting a response:

1. Reach out to recruiters you’ve met before. A warm follow-up is far more effective than a cold outreach.

PRO TIP: Think of job fairs, campus recruitment events, networking events, that you’ve previously attended.

Think of it as the difference between a random promotional email and a personalized offer from a brand you love and interact with. Which one are you more likely to open? The same logic applies to your LinkedIn messages. It’s about creating a context that makes the recruiter think, “Ah, I remember them!” rather than “Who is this?”

2. Identify profiles on LinkedIn that explicitly say “Campus Recruiter”. This means they are looking for candidates like yourself.

PRO TIP: Leverage LinkedIn’s “Filter” option to look for people with “Campus Recruiter” on their profiles.

The next best strategy is to connect with campus recruiters. From their title alone, you know for a fact that they are responsible for hiring entry-level positions or graduate programs. They are far more likely to take an interest in your profile as a college student/graduate.

3. Identify profiles on LinkedIn of recruiters hiring for entry-level positions at companies you’re interested in.

PRO TIP: Although recruiters don’t tend to advertise whether they are hiring for entry-level positions, you can get a decent idea based on their profile and activity. For example, if one is an “executive recruiter”, they probably aren’t the type of person you’re looking for.

In all three methods, you are carefully selecting who to DM. It is wasted effort to reach out to everyone aimlessly. You need to be intentional about who you reach out to. Especially since each message takes time to craft – as they should be tailored to the individual.

How Do I Craft a Compelling Message?

Crafting a message to a recruiter on LinkedIn is like writing a short, impactful cover letter. It’s your chance to shine in a sea of generic messages. Always keep in mind that it’s more important to think about how you fit into their world, as opposed to just telling them what you want.

Step 1: First, your message should always start with a personal touch. Reference your previous interaction if you’ve met them, or mention a specific detail from their LinkedIn profile. This shows you’re not sending a blanket message, but rather, you’ve taken the time to understand who they are and what they’re looking for.

Step 2: Quickly introduce yourself. Highlight your graduation status, your major, and any relevant skills or experiences. But here’s the kicker – tie these directly to the needs of the recruiter or their company. Did you major in computer science and notice they’re looking for developers? Mention it. Have experience in a project that aligns with the company’s mission? Bring it up.

PRO TIP: Now, if you’ve applied for a position, mention it briefly. A line like, “I’ve applied for the XYZ role through your company’s career portal” is perfect. It demonstrates that you respect their processes and are proactively following up.

Step 3: Then, it’s time to address the elephant in the room – why you’re reaching out. Be clear, but concise. Are you looking for insights into the company culture, or do you have specific questions about the role you applied for? This clarity shows that you value their time and have a purpose behind your message.

Step 4: Finally, close your message with a direct call to action. It could be as simple as expressing your hope for a brief conversation or asking for guidance on the next steps in the application process. This gives the recruiter a clear direction on how they can help you.

Your message should be short and sweet. Recruiters are busy people, and a concise message is more likely to be read and appreciated.

Examples of Effective LinkedIn Outreach Messages

As we’ve alluded earlier, your ideal approach will depend on whether you’ve met this recruiter before, and what you’re looking to achieve. In all instances, you must know exactly what you’re looking for. Are you inquiring about a job opportunity? Do you want to learn more about a role? Are you sending them a follow-up message after applying to a position at their company?

PRO TIP: We highly recommend that you read up about Campus Recruiters, to give you insight into how they think. It’ll help clarify what they can and cannot do for you. You’ll also have a better understanding of what they’re looking for in a candidate.

If you’ve met before

Hi [Recruiter’s Name],

It was a pleasure meeting you at the [University Name] Campus Recruitment Fair last Thursday. I really appreciated our conversation about the innovative projects [Company Name] is working on, especially [Specific Project/Topic Discussed].

As a final-year [Your Major] student passionate about [Related Field/Interest], I was inspired by the possibility of contributing to such initiatives. I’ve applied for the [Position Name] role through the company’s career portal, as you suggested, and I’m very eager to bring my skills in [Specific Skill] and [Specific Skill] to the team.

Could we schedule a brief chat to discuss next steps in the application process?

Best regards,
[Your Name]

In this example, you remind them of your last interaction, and reference something specific that you talked about during your conversation. Then, you inform them that you’ve applied to a job posting and make your ask – to get on a call with them to chat.

If you’ve never met before – and just want to learn more about a role

Hi [Recruiter’s Name],

I’m [Your Name], a final-year [Your Major] student at [University Name], interested in the [Specific Job Opportunity] at [Company Name]. Inspired by your team’s work on [Brief Mention of What Attracts You], I believe my skills in [Relevant Skills] align well with this role.

Could we schedule a quick chat to discuss the opportunity and how I can contribute?

Thank you,
[Your Name]

In this example, you’re keeping things short and sweet. You don’t want to scare away a recruiter you’ve never met before by sending them an essay. You start by giving them a brief but clear picture of who you are. Then, you touch on something specific that interests you in the company/role, describe your relevant skills, and make your ask to schedule a quick chat.

If you’ve never met before – and have applied to a job posting

Hi [Recruiter’s Name],

I’m [Your Name], a [Your Major] at [University Name], writing to follow up on my application for the [Job Title] role. My skills in [Specific Skill] and [Another Relevant Skill] directly align with the role’s requirements. I’m particularly drawn to [Company Name] for its [Specific Aspect You Admire, e.g., commitment to innovation, community involvement], and I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to such work.

Could we schedule a brief chat to discuss how my background can support your team’s objectives?

Thank you for considering my application,
[Your Name]

In this example, you’ve found a job listing that resonates with your skills and aspirations, and have applied through the official channels first. Afterward, you send a follow-up LinkedIn message, briefly mentioning that you’ve applied for the job, your specific interest in the Company, and why your skills are a great fit for the role. Then, you end off with an ask for a brief chat.

The Bottom Line: Perfecting LinkedIn Outreach

Success on LinkedIn requires more than just sending messages – it demands a strategic approach to outreach. By focusing on warm introductions, leveraging existing connections, and tailoring your messages to highlight how your skills and experiences align with the recruiters’ needs, you can significantly enhance your visibility and attractiveness as a potential candidate.

For more insights and guidance tailored specifically for your transition from university to the professional world, subscribe to GradSimple!

Share This Post
Photo of author
The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

Latest Posts

Bite-Size Stories Of Life After College.

We show what life is like on the other side. One year, three years, ten years out: our interviews share what really goes on after you're handed your diploma. The best part? It’s all free.