How to Make Your Recruiting Email More Effective

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Cold emailing isn’t a simple process. You gather and process the data of multiple individuals, search the highs and lows of the internet for suitable talents, and finally, you send your mails.

But most of the time, your email gets no response, or even worse, it bounces back (invalid email) — all in the day’s work of a stressedtalent acquisition manager .

Don’t worry; this article will explore some tips you should know (and use) when you email your next candidate.

Do Your Research

This point sounds obvious, but most people don’t research their candidates. Some even buy email lists online without verifying whether the contact information is correct. When in doubt, you can easily find verified contact information using a Google Chrome extension.

There is a belief in the industry that sending generic emails to a large pool of candidates will produce the best results. This statement could not be further from the truth. In reality, doing a careful background check  and targeting only those qualified will drastically increase your mail open rate. Candidates can smell a generic email from a mile away.

Use a Killer Subject Line

The subject line is as crucial as (if not more important than) the content of the email. The subject line is what the candidates see when they open their email and having a good one can help boost your open rate and response rate. Here are some things to consider:

  • Length: Keep it short. 2-6 words are ideal.
  • Clarity: Don’t get clever by using “RE:” or “FWD:”.
  • Language that looks spammy: Don’t use fake phrases like “20x your Income” or “Your last chance to change your life.” If you do, your email is on a one-way trip to the trash.
  • Personalize: Using the person’s name can be effective. Also, consider the employment location, as most people don’t mind changing jobs as long as they can stay in their city.

Overall, it’s all about trial and error when it comes to subject lines. There is no magic formula for this one, as various factors, like the industry, position, and even the company atmosphere, can influence how you write the subject line. The important thing is to consider these factors, but even more so, the candidate you are contacting.

Personalize the Mail

If you have gotten this far, you must now have an idea of how crucial it is to personalize the email for each candidate. Including information about their last achievement or a project the candidate worked on can be a giant plus for you.

You can tailor the email by including specifics, like linking a job responsibility to the candidate’s current one, for example.

Make It Short and Clear

Boomerang study revealed that emails of 50-125 words (or at the very least, less than 200), written at a 3rd-grade language level, can have up to 53% response rate. The study also stressed the importance of having a slightly positive or negative tone and avoiding neutrality at all costs.

The candidates already have busy lives with many emails vying for their attention. So your email must convey the necessary information to the candidate within seconds. If not, well then – in the trash it goes.

Get straight to the point, let each sentence answer a question in the candidate’s mind and avoid loading your emails with company success stories and an “about us.”

This email will likely end up in the trash if you take this route. The candidate will be thinking, “What’s in this for me?” and not, “Oh, I’d love a mini-biography of the company.”

Another vital factor to consider is whether your email is mobile-friendly. We mean that the email needs to open well and look good on a mobile phone by mobile-friendly. You can do this by sending a test email to yourself and seeing if it opens alright on your mobile device. This step is essential because today, half of all emails are opened on a mobile device.

Use a CTA

A call to action is a crucial part of your email. When you email a candidate, you want to be sure the candidate knows what to do next once they finish reading. It’s easy to forget your email if you do not present the candidate with an action to take. Using CTA is more of a behavioral science than an art, and as such, it requires some trial and error to get a winning formula.

As a talent manager, you will need to carry out A/B testing to see which options are most successful in converting emails into calls or meetings. You should also note that the aim of the email is not to get the person to sign-up for a test to join your company. It is to make contact.

So, what follows should be a phone call, zoom meeting, or a meeting in a café; keep this in mind when coming up with a call-to-action phrase.

Make Use of Your Signature

Your signature can be a good way of passing on important information. Earlier, we spoke about not loading the content of your email with too much information about you or the company but keeping it short. But with your signature, you can pass subtle messages to the candidate.

The items to include are:

  • Your name: Putting your name lets the candidates know it is a person who emailed them. It also gives the email a little personal touch. The candidate can easily google your name and verify who you are.
  • Your job title: Candidates will need to understand your role in the organization.
  • Your company name and logo: Let curious candidates look up your company online.

It is important to note that your signature is not the place to put company awards, industry statistics, or an “about us.” It is a place where candidates can find all the information they need if they decide they want to research the company. 

Remember our last point: An email aims to establish contact and not overload information. If a candidate responds positively, plan for a meeting to explain more about the company.

Follow Up

Following up sounds like a logical thing to do, but did you know 60% of customers say “no” on their first four follow-ups? Did you also know that 48% of salespeople don’t follow up, and 44% give up after the first follow-up?

I know what you are thinking. The article isn’t about sales, but I see similarities between a salesperson and a talent recruiter. I believe both use similar tactics to meet their goals. 

As a recruiter, there are many reasons why you might not receive a response. The candidate may have deleted the email by mistake. They may not open the email for days. It may have gone straight to the junk folder.

Whatever the reason is, the next thing to do is follow up. In following up, you should forward the previous email to the candidate and add that you are checking whether the candidate received the first email

You can also write two texts for the candidates to choose from, along the lines of: “I am interested and would love to get in touch” (1); or “Thank you, but I am currently not interested” (2).

You can then ask for the candidate to choose from the two. This method can be effective for both parties. I would recommend doing this if you are on a 3rd or 4th follow-up and want a quick answer from the candidate.

Final Thoughts

Understanding these basic principles will save you a lot of time and resources. It may also lead to a better response rate and get some candidates on calls and meetings.

If you are still having doubts about your method, try reading up on crafting effective cold email templates. This should help dismiss some of those unsettled thoughts.

Peter Navarro is responsible for employer branding at Sixt SE .


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By Peter Navarro