What to Say to Engage Candidates with Your Emails

December 12, 2014 at 12:09 PM by Kathleen de Lara

how to write emails to candidatesOne way to a candidate’s heart is through your subject line, and if that’s not attractive enough to get ‘em to click through, your message has been archived, trashed, and their attention's shifted to the next email in the inbox.

In our recent stream of blog posts, we shared some year-end techniques and practices to fill your open reqs, get candidates in your funnel, and to prep for the new year. 

If you’ve decided to go the route of engaging candidates the team was recruiting earlier this year, read on for 10 sample subject lines and tips on editing your outreach to keep your message from being condemned to the circular file.

Add a sense of targeted timing and relevance.

“Anyone else reaching out about a job this holiday?”
“About your recent traffic and navigation app”

Your overall messaging should be hyper-targeted and personalized to the candidate’s professional experience, industry, and projects they’ve worked on; it also helps to take advantage of seasonality. Being personal and timely with your approach communicates you put in effort to learn more about their background and have an understanding of the steps they took to build their career, whether that be manifested in job title changes over time or an increase in the quality of their projects.

Another way to connect with a candidate on first glance of your subject line is to make references to times of the year or events that are generally understood – sports, holidays, or even big weather events people are fussing about (ending your emails with “Hope you’re staying dry during stormageddon!”) – which also gives your message another touch of individuality.

Flaunt your company’s location.

 “Twitter office opening in Chicago next spring”
“SF web engineer opportunity, 5 min from Caltrain”

Most candidates factor in office location and the length of their commute even as part of their decision to apply to a job. Do research on the location of a candidate’s current office space, and if applicable, apply the proximity of your office location as part of your subject line. Chances are, if they’re interested in a new job, they don’t want to make too many adjustments to their current morning commute.

Propose a meeting time.

“Can we meet next Thursday?”
“Free for a quick 5 minute call?”

 A subject line this specific is a good way to communicate your intention and purpose off the bat, to be direct about setting a meeting (saving time on the back-and-forth), and to encourage candidates to click through to a time-sensitive message.

Flatter and excite.

“Here’s something to celebrate”
“Would love to include your expertise on the team”

Who doesn’t like getting psyched and/or complimented? Optimism can be attractive, and using these types of subject lines conveys a ‘cause-effect-reward’ series of events – click through to the email to learn more information that’ll be well worth your while.

Try adding “RE:” “FW:” to the beginning of your subject line.

This can be applied to any of the above and helps your message stand out as one to read first. Test it: Send a sample message to yourself using the “RE:” or “FW:” add-on, and gauge how it visually compares against other emails in your inbox. Like adding a meeting time to your subject line, this technique creates a sense of urgency and personalizes your message as a direct response or a forwarded email from a mutual connection.

How will you entice candidates with a great opportunity if they’re not interested in clicking through to read your email? Keep it concise and to 50 characters or fewer. Depending on the device your email is being viewed on, there’s a chance the subject line will be cut short.

Another way to get ideas for subject lines for your candidate outreach is to do the five second test, looking at the subject lines of unread messages in your email inbox and picking out the ones that get your attention and compel you to click through. Keep track of them by creating a separate folder in your inbox that you can refer to when you hit writer’s subject line block. (I keep winning subject lines in a folder titled, “I definitely would/probably did click that.”)

Having highly click-worthy subject lines is just the beginning of improving your candidate outreach strategy – no, really. Get an even better understanding of writing an engaging email in our guide on effectively messaging candidates!
candidate outreach

If you’re putting together your hiring schedule for next year, wait til you get a load of this! Rob put together a list of recruiting and HR conferences and events you don’t want to miss in 2015. Save the date(s)!