Cold emails are a necessary part of the recruiter’s toolkit. Yet they have a really bad rep, almost down there with spam mail. That’s because most cold recruiting email templates are unimaginative and formulaic.
Here is an example—a cold email sent to a database of passive talent in the hope of re-engaging them. Can you spot what’s wrong with it? Hint: quite a bit.
This email loses out on three key elements that make cold emails successful.
The subject line of your recruiting email is the first thing a candidate will notice when your message lands in their inbox. And you need to catch their attention right here. So, just saying “Job opportunity” in the subject line is not going to cut it. Worse, this is exactly the kind of blunt subject line that scammers use (“Earn $100,000”, “Your winnings”, “Call +234-810906”), which means it’s very likely that Gmail/Outlook will direct your email to the junk folder. Or the candidate might bin it, assuming it’s spam.
A good cold recruiting email subject line for a cold email to candidates should be:
The simplest way to get someone’s attention is to use their name. And personalizing an email subject line bumps up open rates by as much as 26%.
The email above has zero personalization. It does not use the candidate’s name or make any reference to their profile or background. That’s a huge missed opportunity.
If the candidate is in your ATS, you will have more information about them such as their name, location, current company, skills and more. Use this data to personalize your message and make it relevant to improve the chances of the candidate responding.
Sense Engage, our powerful communication automation solution, makes this easy. Pull data from any field in your ATS to personalize the message, use our drag-and-drop editor to create rich, branded emails and trigger them based on the candidate’s position in the funnel or actions they take. Results? 2X more responses and 30% lower cost per hire. You can get a demo of Sense Engage here.
The very first line of the cold email template says the recruiter saw the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and “had to get in touch”—but why? What stood out? The email is weak on specifics and misses mentioning the exact role, organization or even a link to the JD (an absolute must-have!)
The email closes by seeking “details” from the candidate, but is once again, vague. What details must the candidate share? Should they reply to the email, fill out a form, or do something else? A clear call to action is missing. So even an interested candidate wouldn’t know exactly how to proceed and simply bounce away.
There are four broad situations in which recruiters send cold emails to candidates. Let’s look at these, along with some highly effective templates you could use in each situation.
New candidates are constantly entering your database from career portals, job boards, your website and through recruitment marketing efforts. Cold emails are a way for you to capture more details about them and gauge their interest in available openings. When writing to new candidates for the first time, you need to:
Here are two examples of cold recruiting emails to reach new candidates.
Subject line: (Name), are you looking for (job title) openings?
I am (recruiter name) from (organization). We are a (winning one-line description of the business) and are currently hiring a (job title). This is an (associate/ mid-level/ senior/ leadership) role based in (location/remote) and I felt you might be a good fit.
You can see the JD here (link).
Would you be interested? If yes, just reply to this email with your updated resume and we can set up a time to speak.
Look forward to hearing from you!
P.S. Feel free to forward this email to someone you think might be a good fit.
Subject line: (Job title) role at (organization): interested, (name)?
I am (recruiter name) from (organization). Your profile on (LinkedIn/AngelList/other portal) caught my eye, particularly your (xyz) background and the work you’ve done at (candidate’s current organization).
We are expanding our (function) team and have an opening for (job title). If you are looking for an exciting new opportunity, this could be it!
I’d love to get on a call and tell you more about the role. Do check out the JD (link) and if you’re interested, book a slot on my calendar (link).
Talk to you soon!
Silver medallists can be the silver bullets that accelerate your time-to-hire. These are great candidates who almost made it to a previous role but lost out by a whisker. When a role opens up again, these are the folks you should be turning to before starting talent acquisition efforts from scratch on job boards.
The best way to engage silver medalists is by building a relationship with them through regular check-ins, nurture, and resource sharing. But if you haven’t done that and are reaching out for the first time since the “Sorry, you didn’t make it” conversation, write with genuine warmth.
Subject line: Checking in with another opportunity, (Name)
Hey (name), hope you are doing well.
I am writing to check if you’re still looking for a new role in (function). I know the last opportunity didn’t work out, but we love your profile and think you could be a great fit for this role (link) we’re hiring for right now.
Would you like to give it another shot? We certainly want to!
Just reply to this email or text me on (number) if you’re keen. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here’s a shocking statistic that we can’t get over: 50% of candidates you reach through job boards and listings are already in your database.
By reactivating passive talent and matching them to the right roles, you can save tens of thousands of dollars every year and speed up your hiring rate. And cold emails (when done right) help you get their attention. Here is an example you could try.
Subject line: (Name), is it time for a switch? I have an opening.
(Name), how have you been? We last spoke in (month, year) and I hope good things have come your way since.
I am writing today to check if you are open to new roles. We are hiring a talented (job title) here at (organization) and I thought of you. If you are interested, let’s speak!
You can check out the JD (link) and shoot me a reply here.
Recruiters love referrals! And why not, when they are high-quality candidates who convert 55% faster at up to 50% lower spend. But when candidates refer someone, they may not always give the referred talent a heads-up. So your first recruiting outreach message may be the first they hear about the role or the company!
That makes it even more important to get that recruiting email right because you certainly don’t want to lose a high-potential referral. Here is an example of a well-crafted cold email to a referral candidate.
Subject line: Hello (candidate name), (referrer name) referred you!
(Referrer) suggested that we get in touch with you about a (job title) role we’re hiring for at (organization). It’s great to be connected!
I’d love to know more about your profile and interest in the role (see JD here <link>).
Are you up for a quick chat? Reply to this email and we can figure out a time this week that works.
(Designation / team)
Belflex, one of America’s top staffing firms, generated an impressive 109 referrals in two months—all from just three Sense Referral campaigns. Sense delivered a 30% higher response rate than when they were sending a communication via their ATS. During the peak of the pandemic, Belflex made 1,157 placements through automated re-engagement and attribute much of the success to Sense! Read the full story here.
And that's it - you're all set!
Try these templates and tell us how they worked! If you’re looking to learn more about email and automating your entire recruiting funnel, then check out our Recruiting Automation Playbook.