[Part 2 of 4] Improving Candidate Response Rates: How to Write a Targeted Email

This is part two of our four-part series on how recruiters can increase candidate response rates. Last week, we talked about utilizing the right medium and knowing your candidate personas. This week, it’s all about writing targeted emails, crafting perfect subject lines and leveraging connections.

Perfect your email subject linestargeted-email

People decide whether to open emails almost solely on the subject line alone. So what would make someone want to read your email? The subject line is especially important when the recipient is unfamiliar with the sender.

  • Avoid generic language like, “great job opportunity” or “apply now”
  • Don’t use all CAPS or exclamation points
  • Keep it short and to the point

You can also utilize your candidate personas to identify their biggest motivator, and communicate that in your subject line. For example, you could mention more leadership opportunities, more autonomy or a more specialized focus. By anticipating what they are looking for in their next job or what’s missing in their current one, you can craft an effective targeted email.

Leverage connections

If someone has absolutely no connection to you, they won’t feel bad about ignoring your email. However, if you reference one of their current or former colleagues, they’re more likely to take notice. Including the referrer’s name could help increase open rates by up to 134%.

If someone did provide a referral, include the referrer’s name in the subject line or in the first sentence of the email, as it will show up in the one-line preview in their inbox.

For example:

Subject: Referral from John Green at XYZ Corp.


Body: Hi Gwen,
John Green from XYZ Corp. told me that you were an expert in data visualizations…

Once they know that you run in the same circles, people are more likely to respond positively. That’s why it’s crucial to leverage any shared connection that you might have to create more targeted emails. Just make sure you do it without misrepresenting the nature or depth of the relationship.

Making personal connections and targeting your messages encourages more candidates to respond. To learn more about tailoring your email messages, check out next week’s post. Alternatively, you can download all 8 candidate sourcing tips now.