In today’s competitive hiring environment, honing-in on a new applicant pool can be challenging. You want to cast a wide net while attracting high potential candidates.
But how do you cast that net without spending countless unproductive hours sifting through unqualified candidates and wasting precious resources crafting mass emails that fall flat in inboxes?
We had the opportunity to talk with experts in recruiting to get some quality advice— Teresa Colquitt, Talent Acquisition Manager at SVT Robotics, Sharon Mjelde, Technical Recruiter at Stelligent, and Alex Treister, who managed recruiting teams at startups in ride-share, robotics, e-commerce, and the food industry.
Whether you’re a recruiter or an early-stage startup looking for talent, we share valuable insights and tips on how to improve email response rates. Start creating more effective email campaigns by applying these simple steps.
The first step in any recruiting marketing campaign is to view the world through the eyes of the candidates.
Work backwards. In other words, what do you want your email recipients to see when your message appears on their device?
Before you begin to write emails, get very clear on the skills, experience, and personality of that person who will be the best fit in the organization.
A candidate persona is a snapshot of the ideal hire. It includes factors like:
Talent Acquisition Manager Teresa Colquitt says, “You have to know your audience. Recruiting for startups is different from recruiting for large organizations. Startups can be messy because the environment is changing and iterating so rapidly that sometimes individuals who have been in large organizations don’t find success or thrive in startups due to the ambiguity and fast-paced nature.”
Once you’ve crafted a tight profile of the persona of the candidate you’re looking for, use a tool like LinkedIn Recruiter Lite or Quikli to narrow down the pool.
Before you put fingers to keyboard, use those insights to craft the recruiting equivalent of a creative brief. What types of messaging will be most likely to appeal to that persona?
But also be mindful of how those communications reflect your brand personality. In other words, a creative and quirky approach filled with memes can be appealing to the reader, but if your company is serious and process-oriented, you’ve created a brand disconnect before a candidate is even hired.
Teresa shares one of her creative messaging strategies— “I sometimes send a cute dog or animal saying hello with my first email. My third email is the breakup email, which is a gif of Kristen Bell smiling then crying with text saying, ‘the bad news is I haven’t heard from you. The good news is you are probably really happy with your job. If anything changes please reach out to me.’”
Avoid language that can be discriminatory or create a negative brand image. Diverse and inclusive workforces have been proven to perform better, so scrub any language from your emails that may reflect bias. For example, avoid phrases that might discourage a particular group from applying, like “recent college graduates.”
All recruiting messages, regardless of the company’s brand, should be short and direct and break through the clutter.
If people responded to emails after just getting one “touch,” we’d all be delighted. But the reality is that multiple messages are usually required for someone to take action. Alex Treister, tech recruiter at various startups, emphasizes the importance of timing and a good cadence of follow up emails— “Once you’ve identified your list, create a well-timed flow for reaching them.”
As with the marketing funnel, each message builds on the one before. You’re cultivating a relationship with people who may not know you, so be mindful of striking that balance between enthusiasm and annoyance in your communication timing and frequency.
Everyone can relate to receiving a heaping pile of emails in their inbox every day. When someone opens their inbox, your message needs to stand-out. For example, a subject line that includes the recipient’s first name and the type of company (e.g., Local [name of city] Startup) gives the reader a clear and direct sense of what your message is about.
Words like “job” or “opportunity” are SPAM triggers. Don’t use capital letters or multiple exclamation points. This list of SPAM-triggering words is helpful for crafting recruiting emails.
When in doubt, involve your marketing department in creative development. The principles of hiring and product/service sales are similar.
Your first “touch” should be highly-personalized and specific. In other words, “You have an opportunity to work alongside [company XYZ’s] co-founder and CTO.
Give some background highlights of what the company does, recent accomplishments, their social media handles, and their funding situation (if appropriate). Be warm and welcoming. Teresa says “it helps to talk about the founding members of the team and make sure to mention that you’re working alongside them to fill the role.”
Include a line that leaves the door open if the timing isn’t right for the candidate and encourage them to pass your note along to others who they may know. Technical Recruiter Sharon Mjelde says, “It always helps to include in your email copy the phrase, ‘if you or someone you know is interested in the job listed below’ before plugging the opportunity. You don’t want to directly solicit someone if they are working in conflict with your company’s interest. If they aren’t interested, they’ll refer the opportunity to someone else. It’s a great way to drive your referral stream.”
Again, if your brand’s personality is fun and quirky, insert memes and GIFs into your emails. If not, still use visuals that will compel the reader to stay engaged.
Subsequent messages should each build on the one before. Generic statements like “We haven’t heard from you yet,” are predictable and ho-hum. If you are truly interested in a candidate, shower them with praise. (e.g., “Our hiring manager believes you’d be a great fit for our company and could deliver meaningful results because of your [fill in the skill]”)
You don’t have an unlimited supply of people. You have to protect your company’s brand as well as your personal brand as a recruiter.
If you are sending out 25 or 250 emails, each candidate should feel as if they’re the only person getting your note. That’s where creative and intelligent automation comes in.
Use a template and the power of AI. You don’t need to spend hours crafting individual messages. Consider allows you to efficiently send out the right personalized messages, to the right people, at the right time. That will ultimately deliver higher response rates and a wider pool of qualified candidates.
Sharon warns against going into LinkedIn Recruiter and abusing its messaging capabilities. “You can check a box to send a message to tons of people at once. Sure, you can uncheck certain people and use specific fields, but you have to be careful. It’s an easy way to spam people at once. It’s why people get so over contacted. Be respectful of people’s time."
One of the significant advantages of email marketing is that you have an opportunity to continuously read the results of your recruitment campaigns and fine-tune audiences and messages based on what’s working (and what’s not).
Do not get discouraged if your first batch of emails doesn’t attract the right people. Continue to refine your list, use our tools to build that list through referrals, and review which messages and sequences are delivering the best results.
As a recruiter, you have the power to change the trajectory of someone’s future. Teresa advises recruiters to always remember “Your people are your product. Think about the candidate. Is this what they want to do next? Is it best for them? How will this job be beneficial to their next step?”
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