The Ultimate Guide to Writing 5 Types of Recruitment Emails + Bonus Tips to Manage Them
The one thing you always come back to, no matter what you begin with (say social recruiting, text recruiting, visual recruiting, and [insert a new type] recruiting).
Whatever you do, you still need to send messages in the form of emails to communicate with candidates. It’s the lifeline of recruitment.
In marketing, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in acquiring customers. In talent acquisition, email plays an equally important role. Receiving a text or a call from a complete stranger can come across as being creepy, invasive, or spammy. Not that there are no spammers in recruitment email, but it’s perceived as being more formal, official, and appropriate way to communicate something as important as a career move.
As important as it is, many recruiters still manage to produce cringeworthy emails. From “Trying too hard to be cool”:
to “I don’t care about the job I’m recruiting for”:
to “do my job for me”:
You might have too many openings and applicants to manage, too many candidates to email, and too many emails to reply to. So, fails just happened? Absolutely not. There are better ways to do this. We’re going to show you exactly how to write AND how to manage recruitment email, at EVERY recruitment stage you are at.
If you already know the ropes of emailing and just want some writing sparks for your inspiration, grab these handpicked email templates and start dazzling your candidates!
If you would like more details on how to:
- Sound natural, not like a bot spitting out words from broken codes.
- Get to the point, not beating around the bush/being completely vague/making bad jokes.
- Be appropriate, not being a pesterer or spammer.
- Get replies from candidates who are interested in what you present, not turning them off.
- Shorten your time-to-hire (Personalized emails might sound like lots of work to do. But with this guide, a right process and settings, you will move at lightning speed through your hiring pipelines)
Then read on, this guide is for you. For easy navigating, you can click on each item below to jump straight to that section:
- Outreach without referrals
- Outreach with referrals
- Follow up if no response from first outreach
- Response to “Yes, I’m interested”
- Response to “No, thanks”
Writing Recruitment Emails
This is the bread and butter of your communication with candidates. Especially at the early recruitment stages like sourcing, you have only one chance to get it right. Take the time to get it right.
Sourcing / cold emailing / outreaching / pitching
Outreach without referrals
Ok, although this is the first part of the first recruitment stage, it’s much longer than the rest. Why?
Because this is the trickiest recruitment stage of all. You are basically asking strangers to pay attention to what you offer, whether they want it or not. It’s not by accident that the most recruitment email fails happen right here. Look back at the three examples we showed you above. They are all sourcing emails attracting attention the wrong way. Seriously, nothing would damage your recruitment more than inadequate research at this stage. Need one more fail example? Here you go:
Don’t just run few search queries in your candidate database and that’s it. Double check whenever you can: LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, GitHub, etc. Most candidates in the job market have online profiles everywhere, especially millennials. So do your homework and get this three information for your cold emails:
- The candidate’s past role that relates to the job you’re recruiting for.
- The candidate’s past projects that relate to the job you’re recruiting for.
- The positioning of the candidate’s skills or ambitions regarding the mission of the company you’re recruiting for.
Once you get it, open your text editor and write according to these five points:
1 — Subject line: Inform the candidate right away of your intention. Stating it as it is is the best. Do not try too hard to sound interesting. Do not jam pack information here. You just need to know if the candidate is interested in another job or not.
2 — First paragraph: Tell them how you found them, you did your homework, and you know what they work on. If you get this right, the candidate will read on. Because 1) it’s about them and 2) this isn’t a boilerplate email.
3 — Second paragraph: Now introduce yourself and why you’re contacting them. Don’t be cheesy or exaggerating here. Don’t be that telecom sales rep that keeps talking even though you show no interest in what they’re offering. You just need to briefly explain why working together would benefit both sides. Pro tip: position the candidate into the big picture of your company’s mission. You might not know all the nitty-gritty details about the candidate at this point. Aligning ambitions is a much better way to spark interest.
4 — Call to action: With all the talks that recruitment should become more like marketing, this one is right to the bone. You want candidates to take action after reading the email, so say it! Be careful that you don’t appear to be pushy or entitled. Just leave suggestions, spell the next steps out as vividly as you can, then let the candidate decide.
5 — Signature: Don’t underestimate this part. If the candidate is mildly interested and wants to find out more about you and the opening before taking actions, they’ll look here. With a link to the proper job description on a proper careers site, it’s enough to show the candidate that the vacancy is real and you’re not a scammer. What’s more, they might take action on the opening!
Outreach with referrals
Having some referrals at hand? Lucky you! Now you just need to make the most out of it. First, sit down with the referrers to make sure you both send the same message to the candidate. Second, make sure that the referrer is truly happy with your company and would give favorable info in case the candidate reaches out to them for reference. Third, brief the referrer on the job you’re recruiting for.
When you are ready to write the email, make sure that it covers these four points:
1 — Subject: Include the referrer’s name right there and then. It might be the only thing that makes the candidate open the email.
2 — First paragraph: Briefly talk about the referrer’s role in your company, their experience, and where the candidate comes in. Make it super easy for the candidate to picture themselves being there like their referrer. Still remember to be concise here. Candidate of course can ask the referrer for all the details they want later.
3 — Second paragraph: Explain what your company is doing and the job you’re recruiting for, especially how the role will contribute to the company’s mission. Then drop a link to the job’s page so that the candidates can check it out if they’re interested. At this point, it’s too early to oversell anything.
4 — Call to action: Similar to the sourcing email without a referral, you should include a call to action here. In fact, you should include a call to action in every email that you want the recipient to take action! In this email, make it light and open, especially stress the part that you respect the candidate’s choice whether they would want to hear more from you.
Follow up if no response from first outreach
There are mixed opinions about how many times you should follow up with candidates. Our suggestion: once. Maximum: twice. Anything more than that would become more like spamming and nagging. Don’t forget that if candidates have a job, they of course check their mailboxes often. If candidates are looking for a new job, they check their mailboxes even more often. Believe us, they will reply when they’re interested. No amount of pushing from you could make them think otherwise if they aren’t into it. All you need to do with this email is gently nudging, no pushing. So set your expectations straight and write the email with these three points in mind:
1 — First paragraph: Make it clear that this is a follow-up, and that you have reached out to them before. The purpose of this email would be justified immediately. If you skip this part and pretend that this is just another outreach email, the whole thing would come across as being impersonal and automated.
2 — Second paragraph: Reassure the candidate that you’re not a spammer and you’re emailing them for a reason. Then demonstrate any common ground you have here, preferably professional-wise, to put you in the right position to say why you value the candidate’s skills.
3 — Call to action: If you write this email by replying to the previous email, the candidate could see the email history if they need to refresh their memory. So no complication here. Make it short and simple.
Response to “Yes”
Yes! Yes, yes. It’s good news, but don’t jump to celebration yet. It’s best to keep the momentum going when the candidate is ready to hear more from you. Too happy to think of anything to write? Just get these two points clear:
1 — First paragraph: Expressing your happiness that they have chosen to reply.
2 — Call to action: Get the candidate to the next step by suggesting options and give them room to choose. That’s it. Do you feel that the email is a bit too short? It’s the point. By focusing on a single call to action, you make the candidate focus on taking that single action, which will hopefully lead to the ultimate goal at this point: the candidate sends their application to your job.
Response to “No”
The positive side of this is that the candidate took the time to let you know, instead of radio silence. Since they’re willing to communicate with you, keep it up: reply back and make sure that you leave that door open for potential good news in the future. You just need to cover two points:
1 — First paragraph: Saying thank you that they did reply to you.
2 — Call to action: If you jump straight to asking “if you know somebody else” right away, it will look like you’ve just crossed a name on a list and you’re now more than ready to jump to the next name. Nobody wants to be treated like a to-do list item like that. First, acknowledge your loss that the candidate said “no” — it makes the communication ‘real.’ Then ask if the candidate knows anyone else who might be suitable. Pro tip: To make it even easier for the candidate, you can ask which meetups, events, (both physical and online) groups that they know might have people interested in your vacancy. You might discover a brand new candidate source!
Response to all applied candidates
The clock starts tickling here. The moment candidates apply for your job(s), they officially engage with your recruitment process and deserve to receive the best candidate experience possible. Sadly, this is often not the case, and it starts with emailing. This email. Just a simple email to confirm your receipt of their applications.
Many companies do not bother emailing candidates unless they’re qualified for an interview. A handful of other companies explicitly states in their job openings that they will only contact the ones they choose to proceed with. Is that because you don’t have enough time to email hundreds of candidates one by one? What if we tell you that there is a way to email all applied candidates when their applications arrive, and you don’t need to do a thing as long as you have the email in place? We will come back to the solution later, but first, let’s get the email together with these four points:
1 — First paragraph: Saying thank you to the candidate that they apply for your job opening(s) amongst many others.
2 — Second paragraph: Confirm that their application has been received. Although this may seem trivial to you as a recruiter, the confirmation is of utmost importance to the candidate experience. It tells them that their applications are in good hands.
3 — Third paragraph: Set the expectation. The worst thing is to leave the candidate in the dark not knowing what’s going to happen next. That might even signify your poor recruitment planning.
4 — Call to action: Although this is not a direct call to action, you show that you’re open to supporting the candidate throughout the hiring process. Job searching always comes with intense pressure. A gesture of support here would be greatly appreciated by candidates.
Rejection after Shortlisting
It sucks to receive a rejection. But it sucks even more to be rejected in silence. A simple email with the right tone could help improve the candidate experience here. Unqualified candidates at the moment might improve later. And by the time they are well qualified, you want them to come to you first. To make that happen, lay the foundation with these three points in your email:
1 — First paragraph: Express gratitude for their choice of your company.
2 — Second paragraph + Call to action: Break the news quick and clean. Then direct the candidate’s attention to future opportunities. This tactic has two advantages: First, you foreshadow their development and where they should go to when they reach such development. Second, you treat candidates like a human being who can learn and improve, not a CV with the word “unqualified” stamped on it. This will leave a good impression and a big plus for your employer brand.
3 — Feedback survey: It’s never too early to ask for feedback. You get the necessary data to improve your hiring practices, candidates feel like being heard and appreciated. Is there a better win-win?
Invitation to Phone Screening
This in-between email should be sent the moment you decide on which candidates to call. Remember that good candidates won’t be available in the market for too long. Someone else can snatch them at any moment. Get the email out quickly with these two points:
1 — First paragraph: Refresh the candidate’s memory of which job they applied for and for which company that was. Just as you’re engaging with a pool of candidates, each candidate also engages with a pool of companies. Set the fact straight and jump right to the reason why you’re emailing them.
2 — Second paragraph + Call to action: Show the candidate a few options that they can choose. Be careful of the date and time here, double-check if necessary, because you don’t want to make a mistake and delay the hiring process. Pro tip: You can use scheduling tools such as Calendly or ScheduleOnce to save precious time going back and forth agreeing on a date and time. Also, don’t forget to set a deadline here. This will urge the candidate to take action right away.
Rejection after Phone Screening
After making the call, you know some candidates are not qualified enough at this point. Don’t make that deadly mistake of ignoring them in the eternal darkness and only moving on with the qualified ones. Just like with the rejection email after shortlisting, you can gain points for your employer brand with a similarly simple email:
1 — First paragraph: Be polite as always. Especially now what you have talked to them.
2 — Second paragraph + Call to action: This part is pretty much the same. You want candidates to feel appreciated and that you will stay on top of their mind when they’ve improved.
3 — Third paragraph: The hiring policy per company may differ, but the best thing you can do at this stage for your employer brand is offering feedback. Candidates have gone deep enough in your pipeline to get a rough evaluation from you. This enhances the candidate experience greatly and makes the next point easier to happen.
4 — Feedback survey: Because you have offered to give feedback, candidates would feel more inclined to do the same for you. Reciprocation at its best!
Invitation to Interview
Just like the invitation to phone screening, speed is key when it comes to this email. But before you grab the keyboard, sit down with your team. Discuss and agree on at least three things:
- Where will the interview be?
- What is the agenda of the interview?
- Who will be involved in the interview?
Doing this will help everyone prepare better and be productive during the interview. As soon as these are clear, you’re ready to pen your best email:
1 — First paragraph: Briefly explain why you’re emailing the candidate. Feel free to throw in some quick remarks to catch their attention.
2 — Second paragraph + Call to action: You can choose a date that is the best for your team, or give a few options for the candidate to choose. If you go with the later, use the scheduling tools we mentioned to save time.
3 — Third paragraph: Many companies would not even bother with this. But it’s so important. Having a clear agenda will keep you on track and to-the-point, instead of ended up having an unstructured interview. And the candidate will know better what to expect, instead of fretting from guesswork and performing less than their best.
4 — Fourth paragraph: Your company may situate in the part of town where candidates have never been before. And they already have so much stress about the upcoming interview. By providing location as well as direction to your company, you help lift the stress and improve their candidate experience. In case you have vetted each candidate carefully and you want to work with them all sooner or later, leaving a good impression now would benefit you greatly.
Rejection after Interview
If it’s hard for you to choose which candidate to give the job to. It’s even harder for the other candidates to be rejected when they’re one step away from the job. It would be ideal if you could give each candidate a call. Of course, an email as an official announcement is essential as well. The four points you should take into account are similar to the rejection email after phone screening:
1 — First paragraph: Say thank you that they have taken the time to learn about your company and to meet you in person.
2 — Second paragraph + Call to action: You can keep this part the same as the rejection email after phone screening. Or you can insert a brief feedback for the candidate, since they have invested quite a lot of time and effort in your company at this point. If you can, also disclose the ratio of interviewed candidates to selected candidates. There is a big difference between being one of the five interviewed and being one of the twenty interviewed. Candidates could learn from that and might come back to you as they have improved.
3 — Third paragraph: If you didn’t offer feedback in the second paragraph, leave the option open here.
4 — Feedback survey: This is a crucial stage to ask for feedback on the candidate experience. Every candidate who stays at this stage has gone through the entire “candidate journey.” Their insights are super useful to reinforcing your employer brand. So do that exit survey if you can!
If there is one email that you should send as fast as you can, it should be this one. But in reality, many companies have the tendency to “wait and see if there are better candidates” to cherry-pick. Also in reality, the top candidates are signed within 10 days from the moment they’re “available.” The “wait and see” tactic would end up costing you great talent. So the moment you are sold on a candidate, send an email that has these three points to close them:
1–First paragraph: A brief greeting summing up the interview you had with them.
2 — Second paragraph: Get right to the point about the job offer. This should all be prepared beforehand so that you can attach or copy-paste right away. It’s also wise to double check everything and make sure that you’re presenting the offer the best way possible. Nine times out of ten, this is the deciding factor whether the candidate would accept the offer or not.
3 — Call to action: Remind the candidate that they need to take action, when to take it, and how to take it. Also, include means of contact in case the candidate has questions about the offer. To end this email with a persuasive punch, include a line about the candidate’s future with your company.
So these are the twelve guides to writing recruitment emails for you. Great job on getting this far! As a thank you, you can download all templates from the guide above in a handy ebook:
Managing Recruitment Emails
There you have it, twelve recruitment email templates to sail through your hiring process.
However, if you have multiple rounds of screening or interviewing, 12 templates can result in 14 emails or more. Multiply this number of emails with the number of candidates you might get per vacancy…
That’s a lot. And it’s troublesome to copy-paste templates, then replace every information every time you need to shoot an email. Especially with the email to confirm each candidate’s application, how much time would that cost you?
As we promised in the Shortlisting section, we are going to show you how to email all applied candidates the correct and easy way.
In Recruitee (a modern applicant tracking system for teams), you can set up one default email to confirm the receipt of all applications per job opening. The trick here is to use placeholders, or tokens, in the default email.
The placeholders will populate the final email with the right information. So [job_offer] will be the job opening’s title and [company] will be your company’s name. Then the final email will be sent automatically to all candidates once their applications arrive in Recruitee. Each and every one of them. And you? You have spared some precious time AND fulfilled the first step of a great candidate experience!
Automation is great for general messages, but how about more specific emails? For the ones following up after application confirmation, you need to personalize the content beyond the power of placeholders. Sometimes, you want to edit the emails before sending them as well.
The good news? You can do this all in Recruitee. Have all 12 recruitment email templates we provided above open, and set them up in Recruitee’s Email Templates section. You can still use placeholders and leave empty spaces where you need to edit later.
Templates all set? It’s time to use them! Go to the candidate you want to email to in Recruitee and select the template you want to use. All the placeholders will populate the respective information immediately. All you need to do is personalizing the rest of the content, double check, and send it!
Ok, but how about sending the same rejection email to multiple candidates at once? Well, you can do that in Recruitee too. Just select all the candidates you want and choose the “Send Email” option. Then it’s the same process with choosing templates and personalizing the content.
In our own experience, this reduced our time for emailing to one-third. The time for reviewing candidates with our team has also been reduced. It’s just super handy to see the email history per candidate together with all their other details in one place during evaluation.
Ready to send out recruitment emails like a boss?
Under the crumbling pressure of time and volume in recruitment, it’s easy to make mistakes — that might end up with the hashtag #recruiterfail next to it. But you can avoid that easily by setting up the seven steps to your email success today:
1 — Get all the email templates mentioned in this article.
2 — Put them in a text editor and add your own flavors to them.
3 — Store them in a system like Recruitee where you can pull them out and use them straight away.
4 — Do proper research into each candidate before outreaching, that includes searching for their profiles everywhere, from LinkedIn to Snapchat.
5 — Proofread every email at least twice before sending.
6 — Send emails to you first before sending them to candidates. There are some mistakes you may only see from a recipient’s perspective.
7 — Want candidates to reply quickly to your emails? Make sure your emails stay on top of the mailbox when candidates check it the most: early morning, after lunch, after work hours.
Do you have a number 8 to add here? Or perhaps an email tip we haven’t mentioned? Comment below with your suggestions. We read and reply to every single one!
If you’re curious about Recruitee in general or specifically how it can help regulate your recruitment mailbox and provide better candidate experience, feel free to give us a call or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to help!
Originally published at Recruitee.com on January 26, 2017.