Underemphasized Qualities of a Great Recruiting Email

February 23, 2015 at 12:51 PM by Rob Stevenson


Like it or not, sending emails has become the most widespread way to engage with potential hires. Though it lacks the immediacy of a phone call and is easily
ignored, talent actually prefer to be contacted via email, so if you're going to engage someone the way they want to be engaged, you've got no choice but to craft a meaningful, personal, effective recruiting email. To get some insight on the preferred type of messages, we asked our engineering department to forward us their favorite recruiting emails and tell us why they were so good. Below, we've pulled out the overarching themes and common denominators of great emails, as told by the tech talent who received them. Ready, go!

The Subject Line

The subject line is your first line of attack in an email, as it often is the deciding factor in whether someone opens your email or sends it right to their archive. Here, a job description, mention of on open role or hot opportunity, or something equally cryptic are absolutely NOT the ways to go. Simply using the candidate's current company paired with yours is an intriguing and relevant way to pique someone's interest, for example: Entelo/Google meeting.

Another way to go here is to flatter the candidate in a very simple, non assuming way. Try something like "Saw your tweet/blog/post/github fork" to let the candidate know you've seen an example of their work. From the recipient's point of view, it's a commentary on content they've created and it's warming to know someone bothered to read it and was compelled by it to reach out and discuss. Essentially, it's fan mail.

Another awesome recruiting subject line, shared with us by our friend Aline Lerner, is "TL;DR this is a recruiting email". This one is honest, winks at itself, and weeds out the people who are absolutely not interested in opening it. With this one, expect lower open rates but higher response rates. The bottom line --well, the only line-- with subject lines is to be creative and give the candidate something unique that they'll find interesting.


The Body

Much of the body will be obvious, you'll need to include a bit about your company, the open roles, and specifically why you think it's a good fit for the individual. There are, however, a couple non-standard items you can add on to distinguish yourself from the masses. First, make mention of someone else at the company besides yourself. Ideally, this will be the hiring manager or potential teammate of the person you're emailing. Something like "both me and our VP of Engineering were impressed by...". This tells the candidate that someone else besides you has qualified and is interested in them, and that they're highly involved in the hiring cycle. Further, and no offense on this one, but a hiring manager being impressed by one's work is a bit more flattering than a recruiter being impressed by it.

Another way to distinguish yourself is to appreciate that it might not be an ideal time to discuss job opportunities. A simple line like "if now isn't a good time, when do you think would be a better time for us to connect?" This is helpful in the event that a candidate has just started a new job, as they can decide to reevaluate where they are after several months, and also helps you avoid coming off as pushy and insensitive.


Signing Off

Definitely don't overthink your sign off, but make a point to include some relevant links about your company. Something specific from your website of interest to your candidate, recent press mentions, or your company blog are all great options here. Links in your signature are a great way to frame your company in the best light possible.


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