November 3, 2022
In a world where everyone receives 120+ emails a day, the recruiting emails you send to passive candidates aren’t just competing with other recruiters’ messages; they’re competing against all the other noise that lands in their inboxes.
Job seekers that have applied to an open role will be expecting to hear from you, whereas passive candidates might not even know your company exists! So what does it take to get your prospect to engage with your email? Is it a magic word in the subject line? Or a detail about the role that will spark interest?
We asked hiring managers, recruiters, and talent leaders – in your initial outreach emails, what’s one thing that’s proven effective at grabbing candidates’ attention?
From addressing pain points upfront to focusing on a clear message with one simple call-to-action, there are several elements that talent leaders are including in their first email to passive candidates to create a connection. Here are 10 things to include in your outreach emails to make a splash with your target talent pools:
Donald Miller said something that has stuck with me on the topic of marketing: “If you confuse, you lose.” In a world where most folks view emails on their phones and skim through the message, the last thing we want to do is have multiple asks.
How often do we receive emails that ask for us to submit availability through a link, answer multiple questions, qualify the opportunity, subscribe to a blog, and exchange a CV? That information overload becomes a burden for the candidate. A clear message with one simple CTA (Call to Action) will cut through the noise, increase the response rate and start a conversation that hopefully converts.
Luke Shepherd, APAC Team Lead, Recruiting, HubSpot
Ensure that you share as much information upfront about the opportunity. This is to ensure that the candidate can make an informed decision about moving forward, and you can save everyone’s time. That may include a day in the life video, salary and equitable practices around career development and promotions, or career pathing for the role. The goal is to lean on transparency and reduce the cognitive dissonance between what was shared during the interview process, and the reality of the work/employee experience.
Angela Howard, Organizational Psychologist & Culture Impact Strategist, Angela R. Howard Consulting
An interesting point to think about when writing the initial email is: how well-known is your company? How interested are people in working there? There are the dream companies for candidates - companies with good branding, visibility, and credibility. That’s not the reality for most SMBs trying to compete in today’s competitive job market.
Even if a company is not known within the market in which it operates, including a summary of its history, main objectives, and culture in an initial outreach email to a candidate is highly recommended.
Ricardo von Groll, Manager, Talentify
I spend most of my day sourcing and sending candidate outreach on LinkedIn, I can put as much fluff in that outreach as I want, and I still get the most common comeback of “what are the salary expectations?” To save time, I now put the salary range in the outreach, as now more than ever, salary is a big driver of a move.
You’ve only got a short time frame to capture a candidate’s attention if they are willing to move, so give them all the information the first time they hear from you, and move them along in the process quickly before they get picked up by someone else.
Heather Scott, Independent Recruiter, Into Marketing
The sender of your emails impacts engagement, too! Check out our data on why you should also consider who your recruiting emails come from.
Personalization is worthwhile when it is about a candidate’s unique career path. I won’t comment on a software engineer’s general experience with X language as though it is incredibly special, because it is not. I also stay away from “chit-chat” personalization because while it may return a kind response, it distracts from the objective of getting an answer about the job.
Don’t: “Great profile picture, I love amusement parks too!”
Do: “Our sales team is focusing on building out Enterprise relationships on the West coast, and your 10 years of experience in West coast partnerships stands out to me.”
Jessica Steffl, Founder, Telescope Talent
When attracting top talent, it’s critical for your opening message to include elements that address the question “what’s in it for me?” These should be accurate, authentic attraction points that tie into specifics around the culture of the organization, development opportunities, future strategies, and growth plans.
Remember, top talent has choices of where they work and who they work for. Regardless of market conditions, which ebb and flow but currently favor the candidate, passive individuals need a compelling message that grabs their attention and piques their curiosity.
Ryan Lothamer, Director, Executive Talent Acquisition, Baxter International Inc.
The most important thing to include in your outreach messages to potential candidates is addressing their pain points, along with how your company can alleviate them! How do you do this? By having a keen pulse on both the candidate zeitgeist and a strong overview of their (and your) industries. Keeping up with respected HR sites (like SHRM), digging into surveys, and of course, having a wide network on LinkedIn can help you keep up with what your prospective candidates are dealing with and assist you in effectively reaching out to them.
For example, if you’re working for a tech company and are reaching out to candidates who were recently laid off, you should absolutely include organizational stability and the role’s growth trajectory in your initial message.
Molly Byrtus, Talent Partner, Phrase
When reaching out to candidates, I find it helpful to include any perks that allow your company to stand out from the rest. Examples of these perks can include anything from flexible schedule options, unlimited PTO, paid time off to volunteer, etc. People want to be part of a company that cares about them on a holistic level. They want to work for a company that allows them to come in a little later so they can drop their kids off at school or allow them paid time off to volunteer for a cause close to their heart.
Even if the best perks your company offers are casual Fridays, free coffee, and free parking, include that in your email - you never know who is looking for what you have to offer!
Nineth Soto, Corporate Recruiter, TeamHealth
Your initial outreach email should feel enthusiastic. Every position has positive qualities and how you create this excitement is unique to the position. Brainstorm and craft your message to reflect that. It could be a new position, a position with a huge opportunity for growth, or an opportunity to work with a collaborative team. It’s imperative that you are authentic and transparent and that the enthusiasm isn’t false or misleading.
Cate Robbie, Head Recruiter, CJ Recruiting
Don’t pitch the job in your initial outreach. Think about it; you are likely reaching out to this person for the first time and judging their next career move solely based on their resume, therefore you don’t know if the role or the type of company will be what they are seeking. They might not be ready to make a move yet!
Especially when reaching out to top candidates, you should start by inviting them to have an initial conversation so you can understand what their ‘must-haves’ are in their next role and their motivators to make a move, which will then cultivate a relationship. Only then if you feel the position aligns, you should pitch the role. If you’ve already created a relationship with them earlier on and you know the role could be a perfect fit for them, then by all means pitch it!
Sarah Graziadei, Executive Recruiter, G.A. Rogers & Associates
Check out our other blog posts for more talent acquisition tips and ways to create a great candidate experience.
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Dei, Recruiting Strategies