6 Tips For Sending Cold Recruiting Emails That Don’t Get Laughed At

By David Khim - Sep. 17, 2015
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by David Khim – Growth Marketer at HubSpot. His opinions are his own.
When sending a cold email, you have one shot to make a good impression, otherwise you’re out.
And trust me on this, when you send a bad recruiting email, a screenshot of that email is going to get passed around like so …
Cold Recruiting Email
That’s an odd email to get from a stranger. Right?
So let’s focus on how you can write a cold email that actually makes a strong impression and develops a relationship with the candidate.
If the candidate isn’t interested in the position you’re recruiting for, at least if you can develop a relationship with them, who knows, maybe he or she can refer you to someone else.
Here are six tips for writing a cold recruiting email that candidates won’t laugh at.

1. Do your research

It’s basic. It’s easy. But you’d be surprised how many candidates receive generic emails that, when all is said and done, can be boiled down to “Hi, I did no research about you. Let me recruit you.”
Don’t just look at their LinkedIn profile. Look at their Twitter, portfolio, and projects. Do you have any mutual connections? Use a tool like Sidekick to easily find social insights.
Greg Brockman of Stripe calls this the proof-of-work. Show that you’ve put in the work to investigate the person and you aren’t just sending a templated email.
By doing your research, you can personalize an email and make a comment about their projects, what you enjoyed about them, and how that ties in with why you’re reaching out.
How important is personalization?
Most messaging is impersonal
Based on 7,818 emails, the majority of emails are impersonal, with only 60 out of almost 8,000 emails being genuinely personal.
Highly personalized messages are way better
Adding a little bit of personalization doesn’t matter at all.
However, truly personal messages had a 73% engagement rate.
Time to get personal.
Just don’t get so personal that you’re recruiting off a news article about blind dates …
dinner with cupid

2. Don’t go straight to email

Email is a bold move when you don’t know someone. Warm them up by engaging and providing value on social media.
This can be as simple as following them on Twitter, retweeting their tweets, responding to a question on Quora, and so on. You can easily find their profiles using the Sidekick social profiles tool, or do a Google search for “full name + twitter.”
The best part is that you don’t need a response. People are vain. They check for new followers, favorites, and retweets and often won’t engage, but they take notice if others pay attention to them.
Engage with them two or three times to get your name in front of them, so when you do email them, they’ll think, “This person looks familiar … I think they followed me on Twitter.”
If they do respond to a tweet or your answer on Quora, even better. They’re primed to see your name in their inbox!

3. It’s not about you or your company

Candidates don’t care if you’re the number one recruiter in the tech industry. They don’t care what your company does or if your company is a leader in whatever industry. And if they already have a job, they very likely won’t care that you’re trying to take them away from it.
They care about what’s in it for them. So make your email about them.
Stroke their ego and let them know how great they are. You can do this by telling them you shared their work with others, refer to them as a “leader” or “expert,” or mention them in association with a respected brand name or person.

4. Provide some detail before giving them the spiel

Some recruiters go straight to giving all the details about the position before the candidate has demonstrated any interest. This leads to a lengthy email that likely doesn’t get read.
Instead, provide some detail about the position so that the candidate can decide whether or not they want to know more.
The most important thing to mention is the offered salary. According to a study by Aline Lerner and Hired, money is a large determining factor or whether or not an email will receive a response. People want to be paid what they’re worth.
Take this email for example which uses tips three and four:

Hi [name],

I’m [name] and I found your website as I was perusing through the black hole of Twitter and [mutual connection] had great things to say about you.

I saw that you’re currently at [company], but wanted to reach out in case you’re open to a new opportunity.

I’m looking to is hiring a content marketing manager with a starting salary of [salary] with equity options. We just closed our series B of funding [link to announcement] and we’re looking to develop our content playbook as a channel for user acquisition. Our team would like to talk to you more and have you lead our content team to help us jump start those efforts.

Would you like to learn more?

5. Have the email come from a non-recruiter

Greg also states that it’s better when a non-recruiter reaches out because it isn’t a normal part of their daily activity to contact a candidate. Which means they took the time to get in touch, not just to fulfill a quota.
I can attest to this. When I reached out about a job at HubSpot, I was forwarded to a marketing recruiter to schedule an interview. But my soon-to-be-manager quickly reached out, letting me know he was looking forward to speaking with me. It showed me they were on their game.
Here’s a simple recruiting template that Greg uses:

Hey XX,

I’m an engineer at Stripe. I came across your XX post, and it reminded me of the time that XX. I wanted to see if you’d be interested in working with us at Stripe — if you’re up for it, I’d love to grab coffee next week to chat.

6. Follow up … but not too much

The art of following up is a balance between persistence and annoyance. It’s important to use a tool like Sidekick to know whether or not candidates are opening your emails. This information will help you gauge whether or not to follow up.
Don’t be this guy.
Email for principal software engineer in boston
I admire the persistence, but it’s obvious the candidate isn’t interested.
Checklist of things to hit to get a response from your candidate:

  • Personalize your email as much as possible by doing research
  • Mention a mutual connection if you have one
  • Align with their interests (which you found out through research)
  • Provide the salary (and equity, stock options if available)
  • Give some background about your company to show credibility
  • Don’t talk too much about your company
  • Err on the side of informal versus being formal
  • Invite them for a chat

A developer, Mike A., recently told me, “My favorite recruiting email so far didn’t look like a recruiting email. It was just an invitation to chat about some GitHub project that the company works on. And the GitHub project was perfectly aligned with my interests.”
What are you going to do to improve your cold recruiting emails?

David Khim is a Growth Marketer at HubSpot – an organization building a powerful set of applications through which businesses can engage customers by delivering inbound experiences that are relevant, helpful, and personalized.

David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick by HubSpot. He writes about email productivity, marketing, and career development. Often found dancing.


David Khim

David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick by HubSpot. He writes about email productivity, marketing, and career development. Often found dancing.

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