15 Tips on Amazing Cold Emails for Recruiting [Updated]

recruiting email templates and tips main picture

Cold recruitment emails (and calls) can be tough. The kind of people your company wants to recruit are 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 15 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.

1

Source the right candidates

The overall success (or failure) of any recruitment campaign will depend largely on who you’re emailing in the first place. Are you emailing absolutely everyone who has an email address? Are you relying on an email list you bought? Or are you emailing a list you’ve carefully curated yourself?

Emailing everyone you can is a bad idea, not least because it’s spammy and, depending on the exact circumstances, illegal. Even if you avoid getting fined, mass emailing makes it almost impossible to meaningfully personalize your email.

Sending emails to a list you’ve bought gives you a better chance, but isn’t without its dangers. For a start, if you’ve bought your list off the wrong person, chances are most of the addresses are out of date or incorrect. This means more bounced emails, which will ultimately hurt your sender rep and delivery rate.

If you have the time, it’s best to source and build your list of potential candidates yourself. For example, you could use LinkedIn to search for and filter through ideal recruits, while at the same time learning more about them to help with personalization.

Bonus tip: Warm up your sources. When you’re building and researching your list of potential candidates, look for opportunities to ‘warm’ them up. For example, do you have any shared connections in your network? Can you interact with them in any way, such as liking or commenting on one of their posts? Reaching out with even the tiniest existing connection will dramatically increase the chance your recruitment email will stand out in their inbox.

Whether you’ve built your list of recruits or bought it, be sure to validate all addresses to prevent bounced emails. Reply comes with free basic validation, with advanced options available.

2

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.

3

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:


Length
Length

Clarity
Clarity

Personalization
Personalization

 Linkedin logo
Non-spammy

Shared Connections
Shared Connections

Length

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.

Clarity

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!

Personalization

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

Non-spammy

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.

4

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.

5

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?

6

Check your tone of voice

When it comes to recruiting emails, most people write with all the personality of cardboard. Even the most outgoing recruiters seem to suddenly have a personality transplant the second they sit down to write an email. When we’re communicating though, it’s not just what we say but how we say it that makes a difference. The tone of voice you use in your email may be the deciding factor on whether or not you get a response.
For instance, even the tone of your opening can have a big effect.

There’s a world of difference between “Dear Mr. Stark,” and “Hey Tony.” A long-established traditional company looking for professional Gen X candidates will benefit from the first greeting. On the other hand, a disruptive start-up looking for millennials or Gen Z candidates would probably go for the latter.

Either way, this is about more than just the greeting you use. Your entire email should reflect your brand if you want to attract the right kind of candidate.

7

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,

Alan

8

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 #7 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 (more on that in 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

Daniel

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.

9

Keep it simple and clear

If you want your recruitment emails to get results, it’s important they’re clear and understandable.

Of course, you wouldn’t set out to write an incomprehensible email. However, people often unintentionally write emails that are difficult to understand. This might be because they’re including jargon or leaving out important details.

One reason is the curse of knowledge. When you’re in the middle of an industry or you’ve worked with a particular organization for years, it’s easy to take for granted certain terms and phrases that you’re familiar with. Most jobs come with their own particular vocabulary, but they’re a different language to anyone else.

While certain industry-specific terms may be appropriate in a recruitment email (e.g. talking about the need for double-entry book-keeping to a potential accountant recruit or object-oriented programming to a coder), look out for jargon terms or buzzwords. Even if the candidate can understand you, 60% of candidates find jargon annoying. Telling them you’re looking for a growth-hacking ninja could get your email deleted.

The second problem comes from writing to impress, rather than inform.

It’s easy for recruiters to try and show off how clever they are with their expanded vocabulary. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work so well when you’re trying to establish a connection with a potential recruit.

Instead, keep things simple and clear. Studies have found emails written to a 3rd-grade reading level are more likely to get a response.

10

Remember: WIIFM?

One of the important rules of copywriting is to put yourself in your prospects shoes. If you’re trying to sell something, ask why your prospective customers should care. When you’re writing a recruitment email, you’re effectively trying to “sell” them on a job opening, so ask yourself why your potential recruit should care.
What are you offering that they care about?

In effect, your candidate has only one question on their mind while they read your email: ‘What’s in it for me?’ You might be proud of the latest award your company received, but does that actually mean anything to a candidate?

To make sure the whole email is relevant to your prospective candidate, it’s good practice is to imagine them asking “so what?” at the end of every sentence you’ve written. If the benefit to them isn’t self-explanatory, make it clear why they should care. If there is no benefit, then cut the sentence altogether.

So what does matter to your potential recruits? For younger candidates, they’re more likely than past generations to care about company values and how they fit in with their world-view. However, while more millennials are looking for fulfillment, salary is still the most important criteria for many.

Bonus tip: What’s your unique value proposition for candidates? Most companies focus on what unique value they offer to customers. Why should someone buy from them and not their competitors? As someone responsible for recruiting, it’s your job to establish your unique value to candidates. Why should they work for you rather than your competitors? If you’re promising the same old benefits all your competitors are offering, you’re not giving them any reason to pick you.

11

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?

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.

12

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?’).

13

Make the most of your signature

When you’re writing an email, it’s important to make every word count. That’s why a long-winded introduction to you and your company is self-defeating. However, you can say a lot by making the most of your email signature.

First of all, always identify yourself by including your name and your job title. Receiving an email from a clearly identified person, as opposed to an anonymous company rep, makes the email more personal and promotes engagement. By giving them a name they can Google, you’re that much more likely to make an impression.

You can also use your signature to link to relevant information (such as an ‘About’ page or LinkedIn profile), where they can learn more if they want to

Thirdly, you can include a brief description of the company, maybe highlighting the value prop.

E.g.

Steve Rogers

Head of Recruitment @ The Avengers

Top rated company for advancement opportunities.

Just don’t go over the top. I’ve received emails where the signature was twice the size of the email, with half the page made up of meaningless logos and awards. Keep it short and sweet to make the most of your signatures.

P.S. Did you know a P.S. is one of the most read (and remembered) parts of an email? While we may scan and skip our way through an email,
we’re more likely to check out the P.S. If you have one thing you want your candidate to take away, consider using your postscript to make the point.

14

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:

{FirstName},

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.

15

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 the 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.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to get started?

Create your free 14-day account now