Recruiting outreach: 10 Tips on how to write emails that get replies (including templates)

Recruiting outreach: 10 Tips on how to write emails that get  replies (including templates)

Once you have found the right talent to reach out to and have their personal email, you don't want to waste this asset by sending a bad email or message and getting zero replies.
At Crew, our clients send A LOT of LinkedIn Messages and emails, and the data is clear, the ones who get more replies and interests do 2 key things :

  • They personalize their messages.
  • They follow up, at least 3 times after the 1st message.

Which makes sense, again best talents receive a lot of emails daily. Great software engineers, Sales reps, PMs, or Product Designers don't apply any more, they are hunted. So if you send the same email as everyone else, and only once, your message will just be another unread spam in their inbox.

It’s a classic in Sales: A spam is the wrong message, sent to the wrong person, at the wrong moment. For instance, if you receive an email about medical devices when you are a banker, it’ll be a spam. We all receive them, all the time, and it's anoying. But if for instance, you receive one about 3D Printers when you are a Printer seller who just started to get interested about selling 3D printers, then you probably won't consider it as spam, you'd even maybe take the call.

That’s the goal here, it’s to craft this perfect messaging, perfectly targeted, to get the call with the candidate.

1/ Identify what candidates can (truly) be interested in

First things first, before you even start writing the first lines, you need to deeply understand what the candidates you need to attract are looking for. Exactly like when a Sales person try to understand what the buyer is looking for, by asking a lot of questions, before starting its personalized sales pitch, that will be focusing on the client’s main pain points and problems. Same thing goes for when contacting candidates, you want to sell them solutions & opportunites to what they may want to hear and be looking for.

To do so:

  • Get back to your notes from the Kickoff Meeting. It was one of the main goals from this meeting: Get the Hiring Manager(s) to tell you about what can be the most attracting aspects of the job, for this specific audience. They generally have been individual contributers before becoming manager, they have been there, so they often have a pretty good idea about it.
  • Ask talents from this audience to take a 10 min zoom coffee with you. Not to hire them, but to ask them about why did they join the company they’re at: Is it because of the size of the company, the industry, because they have more impact, more ownership, more flexibility, more challenging problems, clearer career path, more diverse projects to work on, the quality of the team etc… You can always find a friend of friend, or a friend of team members who will be happy to spend these 10 min with you.

It’ll help you get a better idea of what to emphasize most, thus significantly improve the impact of your messaging.

Subject: Opportunities for Impact and Ownership at Early Stage Tech Startups

Dear [Candidate],
My name is [Your Name] and I am reaching out to you because I believe your skills and experience make you a great fit for our early stage tech startups.
At [Company Name], you will have the opportunity to have a significant impact on the company's growth and success due to the small size of the team and the increased level of ownership and responsibility given to each member. This means that you will have the chance to contribute to the company's vision and mission, and help shape its future.
Please let me know if this is something that interests you. I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your Name]

2/ Personalize your messaging

Having a better idea about what your audience is looking for is a good start, but it’s half of the job. Now you need to dig into a more personal level.

You can check their background and social profiles (experience, interests, education, location, blog posts, tweets...), so that you can tell them why are you reaching to them specifically, as well as understand what seems important to them (culture, impact...), or what kind of projects they like working on, so that you can convince them that the job you are offering can be the perfect one for them.

  • Quality vs Quantity

It's far more efficient to spend 4 minutes per email, and send 20 ultra-personalized emails that will get you 4 replies (20% reply rate). Than sending 100 low personalized emails that will take you 1 min per email and that will get 1 reply (1% reply rate). 80 min spent for 4 replies vs 100 min spent for 1 reply.

  • Leverage your uniqueness

You have something unique in your company, we all do: a strong mission, an original culture, maybe you are helping a specific type of person, maybe you are fighting global warming... Find it, and leverage it. Look for people who publicly expressed their interest in that too (blog posts, tweets…).

“Well-written outreach lands dream hires. But poorly written outreach is skimmed and ignored” Rahul Vohra, Founder & CEO of Superhuman
Subject: Impressed by your blog post [BlogPostName]

Hello [FirstName],
I've just read you blog post [BlogPostName], and really liked it. Especially the part where you talk about [BlogPostContent]. We currently face the same issues with our AWS infra. I took the liberty to share it with the whole tech team, and they've loved it too!
Speaking of which, at [Company Name] we are looking for a Software Engineer who can help us scale our infra. I'm sure you'll love the challenge.
To tell you a bit more about us, we want to help companies on their #1 challenge today: [Problem you're solving]. Here is the offer link if you'd like to know more.
How about a quick chat in the upcoming days?
[Your Name]

3/ Scale personalization by segmenting your audience

We often hear this “But, personalizing all emails takes way too much time”.
Here is the secret to scaling your efforts : Segmenting your audience.
The idea is the following, instead of customising emails 1 by 1, talent by talent, you do it for sub-group of your audience. A sub-group that is small enough to be ultra-targeted, but big enough so that it’ll be more productive for you. It will allow you to send the same email template to a group of persons, but since it’ll be targeted enough, it will also be personalized enough.

If we take our example of 3D Printers again, in stead of sending the same email template to all printer re-seller in the country, which will be too generic, you can segment the audience and choose to send it only to a small group of 3D Printer resellers in New-York, who opened less than 3 years ago, and reflect that in your email outreach:

Dear [Reseller Name],
We are reaching out to introduce you to our line of high-quality 3D printers. We understand that as a new reseller of 3D printers, in New York, you may be looking for ways to expand your product offerings and stay competitive in the market.
At [CompanyName], we specialize in manufacturing 3D printers that are designed for professionals and businesses. Our printers are known for their precision, reliability, and ease of use.
If you're interested in learning more, please let us know.

The results of audience segmentation can depend on many criteria, but here are a few examples of how audience segmentation may look like:

  • Company stage : early stage/seed, growth/scale up, enterprise
  • Skills
  • Talent’s city
  • Talent’s career seniority
  • Talent’s seniority at the current company
  • Industry
  • Seniority
  • Relations in common
  • Side project (Yes/No)
  • Personal blog (Yes/No)

4/ Focus on getting replies, not convincing them to join your company

We still see a lot of very long cold emails or LinkedIn messages, talking about the 100 cool things the company has to offer, as if they want to convince candidates to join the company from the first email! We recruiters need to keep in mind that the main goal of a cold email is to generate interest. We want the candidate to say yes to a phone call, not (yet) to a job offer. We need to find the few arguments that can raise her/his interest and take the call to know more. It’s during interviews that we will slowly distill all the great things that we have to offer. To let the talent progressively absorbe all the informations we will provide them with. As well as to create a growing momentum: the more they’ll go through the process, the more they will be convinced. One (great) argument at a time, not all at email 😀.

5/ Every detail count

  • Subject line: You can write the best email ever, if it’s not opened you’ve done nothing. So work on your subject lines too. One technic is to personalize the subject too, with their 1st name, their company name, their title, or even something specific in their profile (a specific skill for instance).
  • Include the salary: It’s one of the number one thing candidates want to confirm even before talking about anything else. Even if interested they will ask you about it anyway. So just save everyone’s time and just add it.
  • Best argument first: put your best argument on top of the email. The lower it’ll be, the less likely it’ll be read.
  • Write like you speak: Don't try to over-engineer it, with complex, elaborate words. Think of it like writing to a friend of a friend. It will be much easier to read, and above all more authentic.
  • Be brief: Nobody wants to read long emails. Be as brief as possible with your emails.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t use long sentences or jargon. You only have few seconds of their attention, use it wisely.
  • 1 CTA: Keep one single call to action. Still too many recruiters that suggest a phone call, a coffee, ask for the talent’s availabilities, talent’s resumer etc… choose just one.
Subject: [First Name], what if you help us ship rockets at SpaceX?

Hi [First Name]
Going through [Business School], then joining [Company1] and [Company2], before helping [Company3] as a [Current Position] on its incredible journey, that's a solid growth !
I'm Elon, Co-Founder & CEO at SpaceX.
We're hiring a talented & passionate Starship Engineer to craft the best possible tech architecture for our next venture.
I've noticed that right now you're in [Location] , but we're a remote 1st company!
The salary for this position is typically $150k to $170k a year + $30k yearly bonus + 0.1% stock options.
Would you be interested - How about a call next Monday 11 a.m.?

6/ Follow-up, it works!

When you look at the data, on average the response rate goes steadily up from 14% for 1 email sent, all the way up to 36% when sending 4 emails. Which is 2,6 x better than 1 email only!

  • 1 email = 14% reply rate
  • 2 emails = 22% reply rate
  • 3 emails = 31% reply rate
  • 4 emails = 36% reply rate

Which means that often candidates don’t reply not because they are no interested, but rather because they are just too busy and forget. Or your 1st or 2nd messages stayed hidden among all the other messages they may have received. So if you don’t follow up, you may just miss a great candidate who can be interested.

7/ Follow-up, but with value

Additionnaly, you don't want to follow up and just to say "did you read my last message"? Ideally you'd want to bring a new value at each of the sequence steps. Typically, instead of throwing all you great arguments on the first email, making it too long and not focus enough. A best practice is to spread your arguments across the whole sequence, 1 email = 1 great argument. For instance, if you have 4 strong arguments that can convince talents to join your company, use 1 at each step.

Subject: Interested in a full remote position ?

Dear [Candidate],
Did you get my last email?
I just wanted to reach out again to remind you of the unique perk that we offer, which is the ability to work fully remotely.
Working remotely has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It provides flexibility, autonomy and the ability to work from anywhere. I believe that it can greatly enhance the work-life balance and increase overall job satisfaction. And I think this is a great opportunity for you if you're looking for a position that allows you to have more control over your schedule and environment.
Let me know.
Subject: What if your work impacted million of users?

Dear [Candidate],
This is a follow-up to my previous email regarding opportunities at [Company Name]. I wanted to reach out and highlight one of the most exciting perks: the potential to work on a product that is used daily by millions of people.
Working on a product that is used by a large number of people can be incredibly rewarding. It means that you will be able to see the direct impact of your work on the lives of others, and be a part of something that is making a real difference in their world. It also provides an opportunity to be part of a team that is solving complex problems at scale.

8/ Follow-up on different channels

When doing outbound, it can be interesting to send messages on multiple channels because not all candidates will check the same platform. By using multiple channels, such as email, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you increase the chances that your outreach will be seen by the candidate. Additionally, different channels can be more effective for different types of messages. For example, LinkedIn may be more effective for reaching professional candidates, while Twitter may be more effective for reaching younger, tech-savvy candidates.

Additionally, using multiple channels also allows you to test which channel works best for your specific audience and adjust your strategy accordingly. This can help you optimize your outbound efforts and increase your chances of success.

9/ Follow-up from different persons

We see it more and more in our data, sending-on-behalf-of (SOBO) do improve the reply rate - for some of our customers the improvement was up to 2x better reply rate! For exemple some setup their sequence as follow: the 1st email automatically goes from the hiring manager, then the 2nd one from an executive in the company, and the 3rd and 4th one from the recruiting team. From the candidate stand point, it makes total sense to be more willing to reply to this sequence, than 4 emails coming from the same talent acquisition manager. First it stands out more, it’s much more original. And secondly, it’s more flattering since not only the recruiting team that is reaching out, but also high ranked people. Additionally, if they are interested but have technical questions, they will be more interested to directly asking them to the operational team.

10/ The 6-6-3 cadence

We looked into the data, and discovered that the most succesful cadences have a wait time between the first and second reach out of 6 days, then 6 days again between the second and third reach out, and 3 days between the third and fourth reach out.

Following up within the week means that you stay top-of-mind for your prospects, and speeding the cadence up toward the end imbues the messaging with a bit of urgency, which may help the overall response rate.

The great thing about the 6-6-3 cadence is that it ensures all emails are delivered on a different day of the week—which is useful, as we all typically have busier days of the week than others.

First emails —> 6 days —> Second email —> 6 days —> Third email —> 3 days —> Fourth

And voila! Hope this article was helpful. And if so, please share it with your friends and teammates, it'll mean the world to us!

This article is part of a hiring guide series, subscribe to the blog to get the next ones right into your inbox

Did you know ?
When using Crew, you can setup templates, with a wide variety of variable to deeply customize your messages at scale, and then send multi-channels sequences (automated Linkedin messages & emails follow-ups). From the chrome extension, without leaving LinkdIn, or in batch from your CRM. And always with the option to preview and personnalize (even more, when needed) before hitting the "send" button.
Last but not least, you can then get all the relevant metrics for your campaigns: Open rates, Click-through rates, as well as Reply and Interested rates!