The first thing to remember is that contacting passive candidates is not a sure thing and sometimes feels like trying to fish without bait. Many times they are bombarded with recruiter's calls, are not interested in your position or have taken another job so they just delete the voice mail and don't bother to respond. The goal is to encourage them to respond, even if it is to say that they are not interested or not available.
The second thing to remember is not to give up on this type of recruiting resource. If you recognize upfront that your response rate will be 40% or less you will become less frustrated. Of the few that do respond, you often find that key candidate.
To maximize results and stand out from your competitors, there are a few things that you can do. First, send the candidate a personalized email that includes the following:
Second, if you don't receive a response, follow up the next day with a phone call. Mention the fact that you sent an email the previous day and that you are extremely interested in talking to them about the opportunity.
Third, after a few days of not hearing back from the candidate, email them one last time and ask that they respond to your inquiry whether or not they have an interest.
If you do make contact at any point in this process, go through your initial telephone pre-screen process as usual. If the candidate doesn't fit your exact profile, or if the candidate isn't interested in this particular opportunity, be sure to ask if you can email them in the future when new opportunities arise.
Keep this list as current as possible and include any details about your past conversations. Both candidate's and client's minds change faster than the wind changes its direction. Above all, stay organized and remain persistent without being overbearing.