Who’s the Best Person to Send Your Recruiting Emails?

Photo by Samuel Zeller www.samuelzeller.ch

When you answer the phone, or hear the doorbell, the first thing you want to know is, “Who is it?” Depending on your relationship to the person or how important they seem, you’re more or less inclined to answer or pretend you’re not available. The same idea applies to emails. The sender can be just as important as the message.

It’s no secret that engineers are often under heavy deluges of emails from recruiters, some with genuine interest and some who don’t seem to know whom they’re writing. So it makes sense to think carefully about how to best reach great developers in your network. We wanted to personally contact some of the many talented devs who have applied to Cyrus in recent years. Assuming that it matters who sends the email, but not how much, we decided to experiment.

We sent 99 emails altogether from either our CEO, Tami Reiss, Chief of Staff, Rebecca Kirkwood, or Lead Consultant Steve Brudz. A quick poll among Cyrusites resulted in half the group predicting that emails from Steve would receive the most responses, and half voting that emails from Tami would have the best results. Logically, our team thought that a recruiter would do worse due to the negative associations they may have with some developers but that a fellow engineer’s message would yield a good response.

How could we know for sure?

We wanted to track not only how many people were applying to our open jobs, but how many clicked over to our website at all. We use Greenhouse as our Applicant Tracking System, which creates tracking links to easily know whose email brought in applicants. We turned to bit.ly for tracking clicks visiting various web pages on our Cyrus Innovation website over time. Specific tracking links were created for each sender’s message. We made sure that aside from the signature and email sender that everything else was identical. And then… ninety-nine prospects had an email from Cyrus in their inbox. (Not accounting for the handful of bounces.)

A few days later, the results were in, and they were surprising!

Only 4% of the emails received responses. In the end, Tami’s email had the most clicks–56% of the total clicks from sending only a third of the emails. The CEO’s email was also the only one to bring in any applications. Perhaps most interesting was that Steve’s email actually had the least interactions, and no replies. Surprisingly, Rebecca’s email actually had just as many replies as Tami’s (though only a third of the total clicks).

The clear takeaway was that emails from our chief executive will attract more attention from prospective candidates. The fact that the CEO is taking time to write someone likely conveys more interest than emails from other employees. We can also look at this data and infer that depending on the impression left by the recruiter (or whoever coordinates recruiting efforts), former candidates may also be interested in communication from them. This underlines the importance of ensuring the interview process is a positive experience for your candidates. After all, you only have one chance at a first impression.

We encourage you to experiment with your recruitment messages and let us know what you discover. Stay tuned for results from more experiments!