10 Tips on How to Create Amazing Cold Emails for Recruiting [+Templates]

Cold recruitment emails (and calls) can be tough. The kind of people your company wants to recruit is already being bombarded with hundreds of emails from other organizations and agencies.

How are you meant to stand out and grab your dream candidates’ attention?

Your recruitment email needs to stand out for all the right reasons, without giving the recipient any reason to ignore it.

Easier said than done, right? That’s why we’ve put together an updated post with 10 essential tips on creating outstanding cold emails for recruiting. As I’m feeling particularly generous today, I’ve also included templates (normally only available to Reply users) you can customize and use in your next campaign.


Your email should stand out

Most cold emails are generated automatically, or the content has been copied and pasted from other posts and with only the name of the recipient changed. We’ve all had emails like this, and we’ve all deleted them straight away.

For a start, make sure your email doesn’t stand out for the wrong reasons. Failed merge fields can destroy your campaign, but they’re easy to fix if you take the time to check your email. Similarly, if you have copied and pasted parts of your email, make sure it’s all formatted the same (having different parts of your message in different fonts is a dead giveaway).

On the other hand, your cold email will be better than 99% of the others if you can demonstrate you’ve put some effort into it. It’s highly important you include evidence so people can see they’re not just another entry in a database. For example, you could include a comment on professional performance on the conference, a recent corporate blog post or company achievement.

Subject: Looking for the best Ruby engineer to join ABC Inc

Hi {FirstName},

My name is Jason and I am CEO at ABC Inc. I found your profile on github while looking for the top engineers with Ruby experience. I was impressed by your background and decided to drop you a note.

You probably don’t often see CEOs reaching out to potential candidates to discuss career opportunities. But our company success so far is based on finding the best people and putting them together to work on fun, challenging and exciting projects. That’s why I focus a lot of my personal time on recruiting the greatest talents for our company.

We might have a position to tell you about, but that conversation can’t begin until we listen to you first and make sure we are on the same page.

Please, let me know if you interested to learn more and I will connect you with someone from our team.


Don’t explain what the company does

People’s time is precious, and explaining the basics is just a waste of that time.

If the interviewee is familiar with the company, he already knows what you do.

If he’s hearing about the company/project for the first time, giving a detailed explanation of your history simply turns your email to a bloated copy of what everyone else is sending, most likely destined for the trash.

Either way, filling your email with a detailed company history and profile is only going to hurt your reply rates.

If you’re not sure whether the candidate knows your brand, simply include several words about what your company deals with or just indicate the area of industry. That will be completely enough.

Subject: Love your ABC, XYZ projects on github

Hey {FirstName},

I’m an engineer at Stripe. I came across your github profile, and really liked your ABC, XYZ projects. I wanted to see if you’d be interested in working with us at Stripe — if you’re up for it, I’d love to grab coffee next week to chat.

Best regards,



Your main goal is to schedule a call/meeting

Any verbal communication is still considered to be much more effective than even the most informative correspondence. In a case of hiring a prospective candidate, the situation is the same.

If you’re hoping your prospective candidate is going to read your message and immediately sign up to be on your team, I’ve got bad news for you. People generally aren’t going to make that kind of decision off the back of one single email. Instead, the goal of the message should be getting the recipient to agree to meet up or jump on a call.

Subject: New career opportunityHi {FirstName},

I know a little bit about your background and had some ideas in mind. However, I work differently, and if you are open to chatting I’d like to begin with a dialogue instead of a pitch selling you a job. We might have a position to tell you about, but that conversation can’t begin until we listen to you first and make sure we are on the same page.

I realize that my email may or may not have arrived at the right time. However, my goal is to connect with and understand an outstanding individual’s professional frustrations/aspirations and then align those needs with the startup that can best fit or help achieve that person’s goals.
What’s the best way for us to connect?


Subject Lines that get your email opened

It doesn’t matter how good your email is if it’s never opened. Presuming your email has actually been delivered in the first place (you have verified the email and not gotten yourself blacklisted, right?), the subject line is essential if you want your email to be read.

There are a number of factors you need to consider with a subject line, whatever kind of email you send:




 Linkedin logo

Shared Connections
Shared Connections


The shorter the better. At Reply, we’ve found subject lines of 2-6 words to be the most effective. Anymore and open rates tend to fall. Remember, longer subject lines will likely have the end cut off, especially if the recipient is checking their emails on a phone. Brevity is always best.

Do: New Analyst Opportunity
Don’t: Open now for details on a new analyst opportunity that’s perfect for you.


Don’t try and be too sweet with your subject. While adding a RE: and FWD: or an intriguing subject line might get your email opened, it’ll only annoy the recipient if it’s misleading or unrelated to the actual email, meaning your emails heading straight to the bin (and possibly marked as spam).

Do: Python Developer needed
Don’t: RE: Immediate action required!


Our Cold Email guide referenced a study that showed while using a contact’s name in the subject line didn’t affect open rates, adding a city name had a positive result. So, if you’re looking for location based staff then it’s worth including in your subject line:

Do: Programmer needed in {City Name}
Don’t: Programmer needed


Read your subject line with a critical eye. If it showed up in your inbox, alongside the other hundred or so emails that day, what would you think? Does it sound legit, or does it sound a bit too fantastical? As enthusiastic as you are about the job, using the subject line ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ or ‘10x your income’ in a cold email will make you sound like the Nigerian 419 scammers. If your subject line sounds too good to be true, then lots of people will assume it is and bin it.

Do: New career opportunity
Don’t: Make millions with this fantastic opportunity!!!

Shared Connections

If the recipient was referred to you by a mutual friend, then use their name in the subject line. It’s a quick way of building trust and dramatically increasing your open rate.

Do: {Friend’s full name} said to get in touch
Don’t: Someone said to get in touch

The bottom line? Experiment with your subject lines to see what works best for you. For example, some have found including emojis increases open rates, but in other sectors it drops them. By following the basic principles, you can then split test potential subject lines to finetune them and get the best results.

Bonus Tip: Making a good first impression

Although the subject line is the most important criteria in getting your email opened, there are other things the candidate will see that can affect your open rate. The first is the sender name. People connect with other people, and your prospective candidates are more likely to open your email if the sender details show your name, rather than ABC Recruiting Ltd. Make sure your header information is set up correctly to give the right first impression.

The other thing to check is the message preview: Most email programs will show a brief preview of an email. Check what shows up in yours. Here are a few from my deleted folder:

  • “If you are unable to view this message correctly, click here”
  • “View this message in your browser”
  • http://img.randomrecruitmentcompany.com/1234.jpg.” (My personal favorite)

In your recipients’ mind, this automatically downgrades your email as something impersonal, seriously hurting your open rate. Test your emails to see what comes up and then make sure the preview does its job, either getting straight to your message or customizing it to show a brief summary.


Do your research

Many people think automation is a great way to blast out your email to as many people as possible. But by building your own list of potential hires, you can send out highly targeted emails that will stand out.

Speaking to a friend who receives hundreds of recruitment emails, he complained the vast majority had seemed to have made no effort to find out anything beyond his name: “I’d have emails from people asking me to apply for Business Intelligence jobs in finance when a quick look at my profile would show I only work with retail companies.”

Go beyond whatever information you already have on your list and take a look online. Most people will have some kind of online profile you can use to double check your info and find out more. For example, many job candidates will have a LinkedIn account with all their professional experience. If you’re looking for coders, try looking at Github. Writers may have their own blog or be publishing on Medium. You get the idea.

Ideally, you want to find out:

  • The candidate’s past work experience
  • Their skills and qualifications
  • Their current employment status/position
  • Their career goals

The idea is to find any information that’s relevant to the job role you’re recruiting for. That way you can make sure you’re getting in touch with the right person with a message that applies to them. I’ve seen failed recruitment emails which require specific programming knowledge when a brief glance at any of the candidate’s online profiles would clearly show they don’t know that language. Don’t make the same mistake.


Personalize your message

As well as saving you time and resources by sending out your offer only to relevant people, carrying out research allows you to personalize your message. While some may suggest dropping in obscure and irrelevant details you’ve found out (‘I see you used to play the triangle in high school. Me too!’), in my experience this only makes you sound like a creepy stalker. Instead, I recommend using relevant information that makes it clear you actually have done the basics and gone beyond the surface level information. The following template does just that:

Hi {FirstName},

I’m Jason and I found your profile on LinkedIn while was looking for the best content marketers out there.

I saw that you’re currently at {Company}, but wanted to reach out in case you’re open to a new opportunity.

We are looking to hire a content marketing manager with a starting salary of [salary] with equity options. We just closed our series B of funding [link to announcement] and we’re looking to develop our content playbook as a channel for user acquisition. Our team would like to talk to you more and have you lead our content team to help us jump start those efforts.

Would you like to learn more?

There’s a lot this email does right, but the subtle personalization is what we’re focusing on. The email starts by explaining why you’re emailing, and how you found out about them. Saying you found their profile on LinkedIn shows a perfect balance of professional interest. They’re not just another name on a list you bought off a dodgy dealer, and you’re also not stalking their Facebook feed to see what they had for breakfast last January.

The email also demonstrates that research by showing you’re aware of their employment status, and have acknowledged it.

Show your recipients you’ve made an effort and you’ll stand a better chance of getting their attention. Just because you’re sending a cold email, it doesn’t mean the content has to be cold.


Be Brief

I get it. You’re sending your email and you want to make sure they know absolutely everything they might need to make their decision. So you start off with your company description (see tip #2 to remind yourself why this is a bad idea), the job description, the start date, all the benefits, and your pet policy.

Remember your objective is to get them to make contact, not sign a contract (tip #3). That means keeping your message to the minimum needed to get your point across. If someone opens your email and they see an essay, then your email will be saved for later (AKA never seen ever again).

Sure, drop a link in with further details the candidate can check out if they choose to, but don’t overwhelm them.

Hi {First Name},

I wanted to get in touch to find out if you are keeping half an eye open for a new job?

I’m looking for developers urgently for a client of ours in the {location} area and wondered if this may be of interest to you…Let me know

Kind regards


That’s a grand total of 54 words, which gives the prospective candidate exactly enough information to take the next step and get in touch if they’re interested. Also notice how the email fits in small amount of personalization, acknowledging the candidate is already in a job and asking if they’re interested in a new one. As a rule, aim for a message of between 50 and 125 words for the optimal response rate.


Remember the CTA

Whatever email you’re writing, a good call-to-action is essential. Recruitment emails also follow this rule. Looking through all the templates so far, notice how they all end with what action the candidate should take next

  • Would you like to learn more?
  • What’s the best way for us to connect?
  • if you’re up for it, I’d love to grab coffee next week to chat.

Two of these take the form of a question, which is a great way to increase your chances of getting a response. Keep it simple. Remember, the goal is for them to get in touch, so don’t complicate your CTA with anything else (‘Learn more about the job details here, and connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook, and don’t forget to read our company history. Oh, btw, would you like to get in touch?’).


Follow up

In a recent post on why your emails aren’t generating replies, William our SDR shared how 3-4 follow-up emails can dramatically increase reply rates. This doesn’t have to be complicated for your recruitment follow-ups. For example, your first follow-up might look a little something like this:


Is the below of any interest to you?

How can you get away with less than 10 words? Because the purpose of a follow-up email is purely to direct the recipient’s attention to the previous email. Nothing more, nothing less. You’re not repeating yourself, not when your first email already does all that work for you.

For this message to make sense, you obviously have to send the follow-up in the same thread as the original email. This also saves the candidate from having to search through their inbox for your previous email (spoiler alert: they won’t bother) and shows this is a legitimate follow-up.


Always analyze your email campaign data

Reaching out to potential employees is similar to the process of sales, and as in sales, the analysis of this type of communication will help you make the right conclusion and develop a script that is going to bring you the best results possible.

If you’re using Reply, you can always see the stats for every single prospect along with detailed campaign data as well as A/B test results for email bodies and subjects.

Go ahead and make use of most engaging and reply-provoking templates you can find!

If you’re interested in using Reply, sign up for your free 14-day trial today and gain instant access to our entire library of templates.

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