5 Tips for Cold Emailing Candidates

Steve Lowisz
In a perfect world, recruiters would always have a pipeline of qualified candidates. Unfortunately, we often have to use a little elbow grease to find passive candidates that fit the role. That’s where cold emails come in.

Although cold emails generally have low response rates, there's still a lot you can do to boost your odds. It's all about crafting a message that will engage your audience and influence them to respond.

Here are five tips you can put in action today to craft better emails for your candidates.

Tip #1 Personalize Your Message

One of the most important parts of crafting an effective message is personalizing the content. Whenever possible, you should be tailoring your message based on the candidate’s unique credentials. A little flattery can also go a long way here.

Consider the following:

“I reviewed your profile on LinkedIn and I was very impressed with your work on [x project] at [y company].” 

It’s simple, but it demonstrates that you took the time to review their credentials and gave them personal attention. In a world where the best candidates get spammed all the time by recruiters who lie about having viewed their resume (or contact them for jobs that don’t fit their credentials), this personalization can make a big difference. 

Tip #2 Keep it Short and Sweet

Let’s be honest, people have really short attention spans these days, especially while using the internet. You only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention before they delete or forget about your email. Be respectful of their time, cut the BS and get right to the point.

The less you write in an email, the easier it is for someone to skim and catch the most important points. Break up your message with frequent line breaks...no paragraph should be more than two or three sentences at a max.

And remember: the goal of your cold email is only to get someone to respond! You don’t have to give them every last detail upfront. Once you’ve got them hooked, you can go more in-depth on the position, but first you have to start a conversation! 

Tip #3 Try to Write Like You Talk

When we’re writing messages or emails for work, we tend to write more formally. Unfortunately, this often comes across as rather stiff. It makes us sound less like a person and more like a robotic corporate suit.

Unfortunately, this can put a barrier between ourselves and candidates. People struggle to trust someone if the other person sounds too formal and impersonal. When we adopt a more natural, conversational tone, people find it easier to trust and engage with us.

The trick is letting down our guard. Imagine you’re writing a message for a close friend. Alternatively, try reading your message out loud and see if it sounds natural. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d say out loud, that’s a tell-tale sign that your message leans toward “business speak” or corporate jargon.

Keep it professional but strive to write something that sounds natural and personable.

Tip #4 Keep the Focus on the Candidate and What’s in it for Them

It’s easy to get caught up talking about our client, their needs, and the responsibilities of the position. However, we must remember that in all likelihood, the candidate really doesn’t care. Like it or not, the truth is that most people are naturally a little self-centered. We want to know what’s in it for us!

Keep the focus on the candidate by talking about their credentials, next steps in their career, and highlight the most appealing aspects of the position.

You don’t want to sell the position too hard at this stage, but it’s always worth noting if there’s anything extra appealing like an above average salary, the name of the company if they’re a prestigious organization, etc.

One easy tip is to look over your email and count how many times you write “you” and “your” versus “we” and “I.” The former should outnumber the latter, otherwise you’re talking about yourself more than the candidate!

Tip #5 Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

At the end of the day the best thing you can do with your messaging is experiment. What works for one search may totally bomb for another and vice versa. Different demographics, candidate pools, and so forth can require completely different strategies.

If you’re not getting much traction, try mixing up your headlines and your content. Write longer emails vs. short ones to see which performs better. Write witty or cryptic subject lines to see if that catches anyone’s eye. You don’t know what will work or not until you try it!

Influencing Candidates to Act

 Most of these tips can be leveraged for any outreach messaging, whether it’s text or InMails. At the end of the day it’s about crafting a message that will influence candidates to respond. If a message starts a genuine conversation with a candidate, you’re doing something right!

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