Return To Sender: Why Candidates Keep Ignoring Your Recruiting Emails.

Do_This-Return-to-SenderWith the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated sourcing systems and solutions available to recruiters today, finding top talent today is easier than ever before,  meaning that simply finding the right candidates is no longer the real recruiting challenge.

Instead, the hard part for most employers today is breaking through the recruiting noise so endemic to stuff like search and social and creating a compelling enough message to break through and make sure that your talent acquisition call to action actually gets answered.

That’s why, when it comes to communicating with talent today, personalization still beats automation for turning passive prospects into active candidates – and no matter how high tech recruitment has become, high touch remains so critical for determining hiring success.

Perhaps two of the most common – yet, perhaps often the most overlooked – components of creating killer personal online messages are recruiting emails and InMails. While these mediums are decidedly less sexy than, say, “social recruiting,” both remain imperative parts of any company’s talent acquisition strategy.

5 Steps to Improving the Response Rates of Recruiting Emails

Nigerian-Prince-ee88ad3Emails and InMails are deceptively simple, and while they might be easy to send, they’re both incredibly difficult forms of communication to master.

This is why so many recruiters end up just sending generic, boilerplate templates that sound similar enough to everyone else out there that no candidate is really going to notice or care enough to click through.

For top talent today, who are constantly getting inundated with recruiting related requests, sending just another depersonalized message pretty much preempts any hope you have of actually receiving a personal response. And this, for recruiters, anyway, is pretty much the entire point.

If your recruiting communications aren’t getting heard, here are five tangible tips for making sure your recruiting emails and InMails deliver improve individual response rates, create meaningful candidate engagement opportunities and produce recruiting real results when it comes to finding, attracting and engaging top talent more effectively – and efficiently – than ever before.

1. Write Remarkable Subject Lines.

The subject line – the first thing the sender sees – is the single greatest factor determining whether or not you’ve got a shot at having your message actually get heard by top talent. The quality of your employer brand greatly impacts recruitment efficacy, but even with a great brand, the devil is in the details.

This means getting past spam folders and skeptical candidates means you need to send emails from someone with a real name, like yourname@realcompany.com as opposed to say, info@genericcompany.org, or, even worse, No-Reply@WayTooOldSchool.net.

Second, your subject line should be a relevant and remarkable enough teaser to entice a candidate into reading more – don’t be afraid to be creative or even edgy in experimenting to find the voice, tone and style that are going to be the most successful for your employer brand.

Constantly A/B test to optimize, monitor and measure things like click through and bounce rates, and make sure you start with the subject lines before worrying about the rest of your recruiting emails – after all, that’s what your candidates do. Now, I could go on and on about subject lines, but that’s only the first step into a much broader candidate email and InMail engagement strategy for recruiting success.

But, before we go onto Step #2, check out the embed below for 100 super awesome subject line examples you can really use on your real recruiting emails to give you some ideas, stop sucking and create some killer recruiting communications that will generate responses instead of the status quo sounds of silence.

You’re welcome.

2. It’s Not About You… At Least at First.

Open your message by offering value to the recipient, instead of talking about yourself. For example, if you’re messaging engineers, open with something like, “Software is eating the world, and engineers like yourself will determine how great our next meal tastes…”

You can probably come up with a better opening, but the point is: give value first (it can be entertainment value or professional value), then talk about your opportunity.

When you begin pitching your opportunity, remember that it is about selling yourself, your company, your department, and your specific opportunity.

3. Be Different.

different-funny-ironic-laugh-unique-Favim.com-262410Sure, if you represent a top employer brand or one of those companies perpetually named as “One of the Best Places to Work,” a candidate might be receptive to your message simply because of name recognition, but just because your consumer brand is a household name doesn’t mean you should rest on your recruiting laurels.

And if you don’t work for the handful of companies with that sort of cache, you likely don’t have any laurels to rest on in the first place. But even if you don’t have the luxury of being a known entity, you still have the luxury of being able to control your messaging, mix up your outreach and monitor your recruiting results in real time.

Remember, recruiting emails and InMails are incredibly crowded channels, and if your outreach sounds the same as everyone else’s, it’s going to yield the same shoddy results, too. Every employer needs to focus on what they do different, and really scrutinize what makes your company unique, particularly when it comes to mission, vision and values.

The thing that, by default, makes you more than just corporate career copy or some generic recruitment marketing messaging is pretty obvious: every company’s competitive differentiator is the people who work there. That’s why these voices – and information around these differentiators – need to be featured as prominently as possible. Because you’re not going to look different to candidates if you can’t show them exactly how you’re different.

If you want to be heard, you’ve got to make sure you’re not getting drowned out by the din.

4. Build Content Around A Specific Call To Action.

Never forget that the sole reason these messages exist is so that hopefully, relevant talent will ultimately feel compelled enough to engage with you and your employer brand. This means the first step in breakthrough candidate communications means figuring out what the purpose behind pressing send is by determining what your call to action should be – in other words, what you hope candidates will do when they reply or follow up on an email or InMail.

This call to action (or CTA) should be clearly stated, include all the relevant details the candidate needs to take appropriate action, and provide enough information for a candidate to know what, exactly, you want them to do – if there’s any doubt, chances are that CTA will fall on deaf ears.

It’s often tempting to clutter a message with unnecessary links to stuff like employer-based social profiles or proprietary talent networks communities, but it’s important to offer no other links in any email or InMail communication than the one where you want them to go after reading your message. Keep it simple, stupid.

Note: the only exception to this rule is YouTube, since YouTube videos are playable directly within GMail (by far the most popular email provider in North America), which means that I generally recommend hiding a video link directly in the footer of an email to take advantage of this integration while ensuring the recipient is unlikely to actually click through to the video and away from your intended CTA.

This same mindset of creating spokes around one central hub should be a mindset that’s replicated throughout your recruitment marketing efforts. Your job ads, career sites or social media channels should emphasize engaging, easily consumable content, such as real employer videos and pictures, which reinforce your recruiting call to action while driving candidates from across platforms and channels to a single, central destination, like an ATS or CRM, where they can ultimately be converted from passive candidates into warm recruiting leads.

5. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.

Picture Worth A Thousand 1000 Words Linchi Kwok BlogIf you’re hiring for a role at a multinational enterprise employer with tens of thousands of staff and dozens of business units, there’s no such thing as a single employer brand or unified company culture – which is why describing these concepts in vague, overarching terms fails to achieve its goal of helping candidates imagine what actually working somewhere would really be like.

Targeted talent pages, or career microsites specific to job function, level, location or business unit, can be an ideal way to provide targeted and the right mix of messaging, compelling careers content and the employer brand related information to the right candidate that’s specific to the right team, role, region or department where they would be working.

The fundamental job of every recruiter – and every recruitment marketer – is to successfully build connections and develop meaningful relationships with candidates while introducing them to the culture, company and career opportunities you’re recruiting for.

This is why, while growing companies need to communicate with candidates in a way that’s both scalable and sustainable, when it comes to recruiting emails and InMails, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Every step along the way should provide candidates with new information or create potential engagement opportunities, no matter what part of the recruitment funnel they happen to be in – every stage has a huge impact when it comes to yielding the best candidates and the best results.

From writing the subject line for your recruiting emails to crafting compelling careers copy for marketing your employer brand so that the call to action in them actually gets heard, take pride in your talent communications – and remember that for them to deliver real results, real candidates have to really care enough to take the time to read and respond to them, too.

chris murphyAbout the Author: Chris Murphy is the CEO of Zoomforth, a recruitment marketing solution that helps organizations easily send messages with multimedia. Prior to co-founding Zoomforth, Chris began his career working in international development for public sector firm USAID as well in the private sector for investment advisory group Total Impact Advisors, as well as the nonprofit sector as Director of Business Development for NPO ThinkImpact.

A native of Denver, Chris is a graduate of Georgetown University and currently lives in the San Francisco area, where he is an avid, if not adept, salsa dancer, small forward and cook.

Click here to learn more about Chris, or follow him on Twitter @YoChrisMurphy or connect with him on LinkedIn.



  • BeeKaaay

    Here’s an idea: How about stop targeting people who already have jobs? There are tons of people out of work. They’re looking for jobs and want to work. But your recruiting only targets those who ALREADY have jobs.

    Get a recruiter account on a job board (monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) search for talent there. You’ll find TONS of talent, and less ignoring of your pitches.

    Oh, i just told you something so simple, you won’t do it.

    • Matt Charney

      I’d argue that for most candidates posting resumes on job boards, the deluge of recruiting emails, no matter how relevant, that inevitably result probably justify this seemingly complex approach so that candidates will do a very simple act: opening an e-mail. This, unfortunately, is incredibly hard for most employers given the competition for any candidate who’s got an active resume that’s remotely on point on a job board.

      • BeeKaaay

        There is a ton of talent who are out of work, and they are happy to get “a deluge” (depending on how you define that term) of recruiting emails.

        A true recruiter will actually bother scanning the resume before contacting. A spammer will just grab a keyword and send you a position that is unrelated in a location that is irrelevant.

        • Matt Charney

          A true recruiter doesn’t actually use resumes. And anyone who uses the above approach is just lazy – I get these biz dev calls all the time. Just because I work in HR doesn’t mean I in any way do HR, thank God.

  • Pingback: 5 Ways Visual Storytelling Drives Recruitment()

  • Pingback: American Hustle: How To Hack LinkedIn Advertising. | CoverJob()

  • Pingback: The missing key ingredient in passive candidate engagement | Geekology Blog()


jobs2careersebooklongad
Just add your e-mail!