Back to blog

Email best practices to warm up your cold recruiting

Karen Henke
Editor of the Shortlist
March 14, 2022

An effective cold email recruiting strategy is essential for sourcing top talent. But it’s not as simple as just crafting a simple message and hoping to get a response. Cold emails need to be treated as a sales pitch for your business. One reason this is so important today is that 70% of the workforce is passive talent – meaning they’re not actively seeking a job. But if the right opportunity arises, you can bet they’ll be willing to jump on it. Especially now, in the midst of the Great Resignation.

Findem analyzed data from our automated outreach to come up with these cold email recruiting best practices. Here’s how to implement an effective cold recruiting email strategy that results in more engagement and a more robust talent pipeline.

What the Findem data shows

Our analysis looked at all the key metrics for high-performing cold email campaigns to uncover what practices are most common among them. Here’s what we found:

Campaigns with 3 emails perform best

This appears to be the sweet spot for engagement from prospective candidates. A single email outreach was the second most popular option for top-performing campaigns, and 18% of recruiters will add a fourth email as a follow-up or closure.

Target personal and work emails

Reaching out via personal email gets a much higher response rate than prospects’ work emails. However, campaigns that performed best used work emails when the personal email outreach failed. Either way, interested candidates will tend to shift to their personal email to continue the conversation.

Get the timing right

Across all phases, 86% of emails are scheduled to go out on weekdays as opposed to weekends, as weekdays have a higher response rate. The highest performing order of emails was Wednesday, then Thursday, followed by other weekdays. The second-highest performance was Tuesday, followed by other weekdays.

As far as time of day, a successful email cadence usually contains a mixture of the morning, afternoon, and evening for each of the three emails. The order is random, however recruiters typically don’t send any emails between 9pm - 8am. Also, be sure to take into account each candidate’s timezone for optimal results.

Notes on the email sender

In successful email cadences, 48% of emails are sent out using the recruiters’ own account and signature. The other 52% are sent via their colleagues’ email addresses and include their aliases (e.g. Directors, VPs, Leadership, etc.). Sending out at least one email from a high-ranking leader in the organization has a positive impact on response rates.

Get the subject lines right

Email performance is best when the company name and role appear in the subject line. This can be paired with the candidate’s name in the subject line for at least one of the emails. On average, subject lines contain the following number of words for each outreach:

  • Outreach 1: 5 words
  • Outreach 2: 6 words
  • Outreach 3: 7 words

An effective cold email recruiting strategy is essential for sourcing top talent. But it’s not as simple as just crafting a simple message and hoping to get a response. Cold emails need to be treated as a sales pitch for your business.

Here are some common subject lines for each cold email outreach:

Outreach 1:

  • Hey [FIRSTNAME], join us at [COMPANYNAME!
  • [ROLENAME], we’ve been looking for you
  • Join us at [COMPANYNAME] as [ROLENAME] 🚀

Outreach 2:

  • Checking in to see if [ROLENAME] is of interest
  • Following up on my email about [ROLENAME]
  • Open to connecting? We’d love to meet you!

Outreach 3:

  • Do you see yourself as [ROLENAME] at [COMPANYNAME]? We do!
  • Looking for the perfect [ROLENAME] Know anyone?
  • I’d love to see your hat in the ring at [COMPANYNAME]

Email body structure

Email body that contains a Calendly link or job description has a higher response rate. The reason is that there is often a clear call to action associated with these links.

On average, top-performing email campaigns contain the following number of words:

  • Outreach 1: 107 words
  • Outreach 2: 86 words
  • Outreach 3: 75 words

Aside from the word count, formatting also matters. Use multiple short paragraphs 1-2 sentences long instead of a larger block of text. Also, always check how emails read from your phone to make sure it’s optimized for mobile.

Always include a CTA of some kind to compel candidates to engage with you. Our experts recommend a link to the job description, but you can also include a Calendly link to set up a meeting, a prompt for them to call you, or anything else that gets them to look into your company and the role more deeply. We’ve put together these passive outreach email tips to help you.

Final words on emails for cold recruiting

Cold email recruiting is one of the cornerstones of building an effective sourcing pipeline at your company. By following these cold email best practices, you’ll be able to engage with more top candidates and build out a robust talent pipeline. In our increasingly competitive job market, cold email recruiting is one of the best ways to keep your company growing strong. Learn more about how to find and engage with passive candidates.