How To Write Great Recruitment Emails

One constant in a recruiter's life is recruitment emails, a lot of them. No matter what stage you're at, when you are sourcing candidates, you will have to be able to write great recruitment emails. That's not a surprise either: even with the rapid evolution of social media, email remains one of the most powerful ways to communicate with candidates. It's estimated that the number of emails being sent every day will reach 246 billion by the end of 2019.

Having said that, there are several challenges when you'll face you are trying to come up with a strategy to send recruitment emails. To begin with, everyone is busy. We all receive hundreds of emails every day, and getting someone's attention is difficult. Second, it's important to personalise: impersonal, poorly crafted emails sent to the wrong people, with all kinds of avoidable mistakes, are all too common. And when an email is your first point of communication with a candidate, a poorly crafted one leaves a long (and perhaps lasting) impression.

Fortunately, with a few basics in place, you can improve your recruitment emails a lot. Let's talk about some of the most important things you need to take care of.

Start with some research

Doing even a little bit of research goes a long way. Most recruitment emails are… generic. It's apparent that the recruiter has just sent out an email blast to tens (or hundreds) of candidates hoping to grab someone's attention. Not a great look.

What constitutes basic research? There's not a lot. Start by looking at their LinkedIn profiles, if available, their Twitter account. If they are a writer, you can read some of what they have written; if you're looking for a designer, a quick portfolio review is a good start.

Try to find something that could be a conversation starter. Remember that you are talking to a human.

Get an introduction/referral (if possible)

It's far easier to get a conversation started if you can get an introduction from a common contact. A cold email is unlikely to have anywhere close to the response that you could get with an introduction from someone.

How can you find someone who can introduce you? LinkedIn is a good place to start. You might know someone who is connected. You can also look at social media for help. Basically, try to use your existing network. A little bit of effort here will go a long way.

Getting an introduction, however, isn't always possible and that's fine.

Understand the opportunity that you're selling

Put yourself in the candidate's shoes for a moment. They (likely) already have a job. Where are they in their career right now? What could be next for them? Why should they switch, and especially, switch to what you are offering?

Sending a generic email about a stealth startup doing exciting work in an important market with absolutely no specifics is unlikely to garner people's interest because a lot of them get a lot of those emails, every single day. Being clear and specific about what you are offering can help a lot.

Write a great subject line

What makes for a great subject line? There are entire articles written on that topic, but I'll keep it short: it depends.

A good subject line can be short or medium sized, but it has to get the reader's attention and convey the gist of the message in a second or two. Tough? Definitely, but a good subject line can have a huge impact on your conversions, so definitely worth spending that time on it too.

While the goal of the subject line is to pique curiosity and get someone to open an email, the subject is just one part of a broader outreach and you must keep the broader goal in mind at all times. It's better not to get clickbait-y with subject lines—your numbers may be off the roof but you might actually be turning candidates off.

Bonus tip: if you can, use a preheader text. It gives you a little extra in addition to the subject line to get someone interested.

Write the email content

You've done your research, you've got a great subject line, and your email has been opened. Now, the email content has to sell the opportunity for you, enough to at least get a response.

What makes for good email content? The basics of any kind of writing apply: tell them why you're emailing them, tell them how you found them, tell them why you think they could be a good fit, and end with a call to action. Keep the email quick and scannable. No long paragraphs unless absolutely necessary.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these emails that you send are also a part of your employer branding. Make sure your email's tone is in line with your brand.

Striking a balance between selling the opportunity and not being too sales-y is key in this email. You want to be clear and concise while still selling the opportunity just a bit.

Send the email

Prefer a quick plaintext email from your own address. HTML in emails is best left for marketing emails (and you're less likely to land in spam too!). Sending from your own email address will also help improve your conversion rate.

Before you send the email, make sure you proofread it. A poorly written email filled with grammar and spelling mistakes is not how you want to start off. If you're using a software to send an email, make sure you send a couple of test messages before sending out the actual message.

Wait for a few days, and then follow up

Once you've sent an email, it's important to follow up if required after a few days. People are busy… they might miss your email, someone might have seen it but forgot to respond. A follow up can help.

Try to keep follow up emails to two at most. If someone hasn't responded after a couple of followups, it's safe to assume that they probably aren't interested. That obviously doesn't mean that the door is shut forever: you might get a response some time later!

Use software to complement your work

Doing all of this by yourself can be tedious. A recruitment software can help remove some of the more repetitive tasks and it can complement your work too. It can make it easier for you to review someone's profile, to follow up with them at the right time, and even write better emails.

Like most other things, writing a great recruitment email will take time, practice, and a lot of experimentation. You aren't going to find your voice in the first go, but a few tries and you should be set.