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8 Cold Recruiting Email Templates That Get Results

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According to the recruiting trends report, 74% of recruiters spend one or more days a week on sourcing, and 49% of talent teams plan to increase passive outreach in 2022. Email is still the best option for recruiting outreach, and the most likely to generate a response. But how do recruiters increase response rates and generate interest when candidates aren’t even looking for a new job? 

We examined Findem data from automated outreach to thousands of candidates for hundreds of roles. Based on that data and additional research, this article reviews best practices for cold recruiting and offers research-based email templates to increase response rates and turn cold opens into warm hires.

What is cold recruiting? 

Cold recruiting is the process of contacting a potential candidate about an employment opportunity when they are not expecting to hear from you or may not know you. This strategy is increasingly used by top recruiters to find and hire the most qualified candidates for open roles. 

But without the proper approach, cold recruiting can be time consuming and yield little in results. An optimal cold recruiting strategy sets a recruiter apart from competitors and attracts top talent no one else is talking to. 

The root of cold recruiting challenges 

One of the major reasons cold recruiting fails is that emails go unopened. Recruiters who use the same sourcing methods as everyone else find themselves reaching out to the same people. And those people become inundated with requests from recruiters that all start to sound the same. As a result, emails are ignored, or even worse, irritated recipients respond negatively. 

At the root of these issues is the inability to find potential candidates with specific and nuanced skills. A recruiter can craft quality, enticing cold recruiting emails that speak to those skills as long as they have a qualified talent pool to reach out to. 

The second reason cold recruiting fails is lack of persistence. Top recruiters agree that just one email won’t open the door to the most qualified talent. It takes 3-4 emails before the best candidates begin to reply and consider an offer. And those emails have to be both personal and relevant, promoting a job that actually fits their ambitions and experience. 

The current state of cold recruiting

Cold recruiting has changed. In the past, recruiters hand selected candidates from a large talent pool for a cold recruiting campaign. But a much higher volume of outreach is needed to generate a response in today’s recruiting environment. With more sophisticated search tools, recruiters should be able to send more emails to a larger, better targeted pool of candidates to achieve their hiring goals. 

Here, we’ll walk through some tried-and-true best practices for creating highly effective cold recruiting emails and provide compelling email templates to help get you started.

How do you write a cold recruiting email?

In today’s digital age, people are inundated with spam emails and advertisements, and their patience for cold emails has worn ultra-thin. On average, office workers receive around 122 emails per day, and they spend less than five seconds on an email, giving you seconds to make an impression. 

To grab candidates’ interest and overcome increasingly low response rates, recruiters have started following the AIDA model. The framework (which stands for awareness, interest, desire, and action) helps recruiters create winning cold emails that cut through the noise while being engaging, and improve their response rates: 

  • Attention - Recruiters first determine the best way to capture recipients’ attention to ensure they open and read their cold emails. Testing different subject lines is a good way to figure out what works best. 
  • Interest - Once the email is opened, recruiters have just seconds to generate interest. What is significant about this offer to a person with these skills? Build on the subject line with a compelling detail like a statistic or quote and a link to a next step.
  • Desire - The next step is to shift users’ interest to desire. Recruiters might highlight unique benefits, opportunities for success with the open role or outline the hiring company’s values or social initiatives.
  • Action - The final piece of the puzzle is providing recipients with a clear next step. Recruiters include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that prompts users to respond in a simple and particular way: apply, set up a time to discuss, or refer a friend.

In addition to the AIDA model, successful recruiters implement several other critical techniques into their cold emailing process. While the specific contents of a strong cold recruiting email might vary—depending on the company, role, industry, etc.—your outreach strategy should always align with the following best practices: 

1. Source the right candidates 

The lifeblood of any effective cold recruiting campaign is its sourcing method. It’s absolutely vital for recruiters to build a targeted candidate pool so that their messages reach the right recipients. That means sourcing from as many sources as possible with a way to bring the data together and form a more complete picture of a candidate. 

An enriched, up-to-date candidate profile gives you better information for targeting the right people and customizing emails to get a response. 

2. Use a compelling subject line

Filling potential candidates’ inboxes with emails that have boring, unimaginative subject lines probably won’t get you very far. An email’s subject line acts as the recruiter’s very first impression: To earn a response, it must grab the candidate’s attention and evoke emotion or interest. 

More than 40% of emails are opened on mobile devices, where longer subject lines will likely be truncated. That means the first 3-4 words of your subject line might be all a candidate sees. Consider including the company name and role in question as well as the candidate’s name.

3. Make it personal 

It’s always best to use a candidate’s personal email whenever you can, as 44% of people prefer communicating with their personal accounts instead of their work accounts based on the analysis of outreach through Findem. Recruiters should reference specific attributes such as a candidate’s work experience and accomplishments that demonstrate why they are being contacted. 

But it’s essential not to simply shoehorn basic information from a candidate’s LinkedIn profile into a template, as the result is often confusing and unappealing. Make sure those personalized touches motivate the candidate to learn more (e.g., “I see you have earned record sales at tech startups! Would you like to work your magic again?”). 

4. Keep it the right length 

Sending long-winded emails that demand an excessive amount of time to read is a surefire way to get ignored or deleted. One study found that the ideal length for an email is 50-125 words, which averages a response rate of 50% or higher. Findem’s analysis also found that varying the length of emails in a specific cadence (or series) also helps to improve your reply rates.

5. Strike the right tone

Finding the right balance between buttoned-up and laid-back can be challenging, but it’s a crucial consideration for cold recruiting emails. The tone you choose should match the industry and position you’re trying to fill, so take the time to evaluate those key factors. For example, if you’re emailing an attorney about an open position, you probably don’t want to sound overly casual or use emojis. 

6. Add an emotional element 

The job market—across every industry—is rapidly evolving due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four and a half million Americans quit their jobs in March 2022, continuing a trend as people search for something better and work that is more meaningful. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty that comes with moving to a new job, but people are leaning into the unknown if it means securing a better future for themselves and their families. 

Effective cold recruiting emails should either:

  • Create an emotional connection by empathizing with the uncertainty of leaving one job for another -or-
  • Entice people by creating a fear of missing out (FOMO) about working for a company with a bright future where they’ll be valued and treated well.

7. Add a clear CTA 

Another key factor to consider is the action you’ll ask a candidate to take at the end of the email. If you leave them without clear, definitive next steps, they’re more likely to ignore or forget about your message. 

There are myriad calls to action (CTAs) from which to choose, but make sure the one you select matches the tone and goal of your email. Some examples include:

  • Asking the candidate for a few times they are available to discuss the role
  • Providing a link or button to apply for the role
  • Providing a calendar link that the candidate can use to set up a meeting
  • Link to a people page that highlights your employees and work culture

8. Do more than follow-up

Instead of sending one-off emails, Findem’s research shows that sending a series of emails increases your chances of getting an actionable response. More specifically, a three-email follow-up set will yield the most responses from potential candidates, and recruiters that send follow-up emails get 46% more responses than those who don’t. So don’t call it quits after that first ignored message!

8 Cold recruiting email templates 

Even after reviewing the tips above, we know that constructing an actual cold recruiting email can seem daunting. So we’ve pulled together eight winning templates to help get your creative juices flowing. 

As you modify and use these templates, it’s important to remember that Findem recommends using a series of cold emails to increase response rates. Thus, the individual email templates found below are the suggested first email in these cadences. 

Template 1: Outreach to gauge a candidate’s interest

Subject: Love your experience at [PASTCOMPANY] 

Body:

Hello [NAME]

Your experience and promotions at [RECIPIENT'S COMPANY] caught my eye. My name is [NAME] and I’m the [TITLE] at [COMPANY]. I'm also curious if you'd be open to thinking about new opportunities outside of the company.

[BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF COMPANY]

We're looking for a [JOB TITLE] to join our [TEAM]. In this role, you'll be responsible for [BRIEF OVERVIEW OF JOB]. 

If you’re interested in learning more, please let us know a few times that could work for an introductory call with [NAME] on the team.

Regards,

[SIGNATURE]

This template is perfect for benchmarking a person’s initial reaction to a relevant job opening. It focuses on the candidate’s past experiences and promotions and offers basic information about the open position, too—which helps the recruiter avoid the “spammy” jargon that readers typically ignore. 

Template 2: Intro for referred candidates 

Subject: [Mutual Connection’s name] recommended you! 

Body: 

Hi [FIRSTNAME],

[Mutual Connection’s name] mentioned that you might be a great addition to our company and shared your information with me. My name is [NAME] and I’m the [TITLE] at [COMPANY]. After reviewing some of your experience and accomplishments, I think you might be a perfect fit for the [OPEN JOB TITLE] role.

Here is the job description [LINK] as well as our company’s “About Us” page [LINK]. Interested in learning more? Please send me some times you’d be available to chat this week.

I look forward to hearing from you!

[SIGNATURE] 

It’s essential to reach out to referred candidates and discuss the relevant job opening with them as quickly as possible, or you risk losing their interest. This template is an easy way to show that you’ve already taken a first look at their credentials and you’re ready to get the ball rolling on further discussions. Feel free to add more detail about what makes them a perfect fit.

Template 3: Candidate found on professional job sites 

Subject: [ROLE] opportunity at [COMPANY]

Body:

Hello [FIRSTNAME], 

I found your LinkedIn profile and I was really impressed by your professional experience, especially the work you did on this [specific project]. I’m the [SENDERTITLE]⁠ at [COMPANY]. 

We’re currently looking for a [ROLE]⁠ to join our team and I’d love to tell you more about this position as I know you’d be a great asset.

You can take a look at the job description here: @search_job_description_url⁠ 

If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity, please respond back to this email with your availability to connect. 

[SIGNATURE] 

If you found the candidate on a formal job site (e.g. LinkedIn), this template can help you craft an appropriate cold email. It helps you connect with the person by providing key details about both their professional profile and the company and role without being too invasive. 

Template 4: Found work online

Subject: [NAME], loved your blog about [TOPIC]! We’re hiring at [COMPANY]

Body:

[FIRSTNAME],

I was really impressed by some of your work, which caught my eye on [PLATFORM/WEBSITE]. I dug a little deeper and found some of the awesome blogs you wrote at [CURRENT COMPANY].

We currently have an opening for [OPEN JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY] and, based on your achievements, I think you’d be a really great fit!

If you’re open to hearing more about it, feel free to grab some time on my calendar [CALENDAR LINK] this week or next.

Regards,

[SIGNATURE] 

Paying a compliment to a candidate’s previous work is an effective way to pique their interest. This template helps you show that you’ve confirmed the candidate is aligned with the opening, and prompts them to set up a meeting directly in the CTA.

Template 5: Make it personal 

Subject: [NAME], you’re perfect for [ROLE] at [COMPANY]

Body:

Hi [FIRSTNAME],

I just scrolled through some of your recent work at [CURRENT COMPANY], and I was blown away by everything you’ve accomplished! I run the [TEAM] at [COMPANY].

We’re currently looking for a [ROLE]⁠ to join our company and your experience with [SHORT LIST OF SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE] would take our team to the next level. 

Here’s the link to the open role for your review: @search_job_description_url If you’re interested, please fill out the candidate profile at the bottom of the page so we can get the ball rolling. 

Regards,

[SIGNATURE] 

This template is perfect for reaching out to a highly-talented candidate with the ideal level of expertise for the open role. It should be used when you’re confident that they match the job requirements. Be sure to include highly-specific, personalized details and follow up on your initial email at least once. 

Template 6: Email from a founder/investor 

Subject: We need you on the team!

Body:

Hello [FIRST NAME],

My name is [NAME], and I’m the founder of [COMPANY]. I’m personally reaching out because  I think you’d be a great fit for the [JOB TITLE] and help us [short term company goal]. You can review the job description [HERE]. 

I started this company because I wanted to shake up the [INDUSTRY]. To do it, I need people like you. It’s a chance to make a difference with the benefit of competitive pay and the opportunity to build something great. I’d love for you to be a part of it.

If you’re interested in joining us please click the calendar link to schedule a brief call.

Regards,

[SIGNATURE]

This email can help founders connect with their industry’s most talented professionals (and convince them a job change might be worth it) by inspiring them with details about what makes your company specifically or the opportunity exciting. It’s intended for those star candidates who are in great demand and need some persuasion to respond to recruitment. 

Template 7: Email to someone from your ATS 

Subject: [JOB TITLE] is perfect for you!

Body:

Hi, [FIRSTNAME]!

I hope you’re doing well. You applied for [PREVIOUS POSITION] a few months ago. While it didn’t work out, I have never stopped looking for an opportunity that would be a true fit for you—and I believe I found it. 

[COMPANY] is actively hiring a [POSITION]. You are an ideal candidate because of your [PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AND PROMOTIONS].  You can view the complete job description [HERE].

You’ll be excited to hear that [COMPANY] is a great place to work. It values a healthy work-life balance and offers educational opportunities so its employees can continue to expand their knowledge and skillsets.  

I would love to speak with you about this position. Please use the Calendly link [LINK] to select a time for a quick chat in the next week.  

[SIGNATURE]

In some cases, a candidate may have applied for a position at a company in the past, but didn’t end up landing the job. This email is great for reaching out to those who are a better fit for a new job opening, as it acknowledges their previous application and compliments their alignment with the newly available position. With Findem candidate rediscovery, you can keep their profile up to date in your ATS so you can reference new experiences that may be relevant to the new position.

Template 8: Three-step email cadence 

Email 1

Subject: [ROLE], we’ve been looking for you

Hi [FIRSTNAME],

Your profile came up in our research and I’m very impressed by your experience, skillset, and [PERSONALIZATION].  My name is [NAME] and I lead [TEAM] at [COMPANY].
To be brief, [COMPANY] is a [INSERT ELEVATOR PITCH]...

{Goal: Highlight the company and focus on what’s appealing to new hires. If you can, also highlight what makes your company attractive from a growth, investment, and culture perspective. }

We’re a dynamic, driven, and diverse team and have been rated as a top place to work by [INSERT PUBLICATION OR GLASSDOOR REVIEWS].

Here’s a link to the job description where you can learn more about the opportunity: [JOB POST LINK]. 

Anyway, I’d love to chat if you’re available and interested. What are some good times for you next week?

[SIGNATURE]

Email 2

Subject: Following up on my email about [ROLE]

Hi [FIRSTNAME],

Did you get a chance to review the email I’d sent about the open position at [COMPANY]? I took another look at your profile today and think you’d be an excellent fit for the position.

Once again, you can read up on the specifics of the role here: [JOB POST].

If you’re interested in talking about it in more detail, you can contact me here at any time. 

[SIGNATURE] 

Email 3 

Subject: I’d love to see your hat in the ring at [COMPANY]

Hi [FIRSTNAME],

I just wanted to let you know that [ROLE] is still available at [COMPANY].  

Here’s the job post: [JOB POST]. 

Even if the timing isn’t right for you now,  we’d love to keep this communication channel open with you in the future. Feel free to share this opportunity with a member in your network if you think they’ll be a good fit for this role. 

Once again, reach out anytime. 

[SIGNATURE]

This three-step email cadence gives the candidate multiple opportunities to respond to your outreach. It’s an effective strategy to use, as Findem’s research found that a 3-step email cadence garnered the highest response rate for recruiters. 

Take your cold recruiting emails to the next level

Cold emailing plays a growing role in an effective recruiting strategy, so getting it right is absolutely essential. The templates above are a great jumping-off point for getting better results, but for a truly efficient, fruitful practice, recruiters need intelligent tools. 

Findem’s AI-powered recruiting platform takes the work out of sourcing and engaging with top talent so you can focus on closing candidates. That how these companies are building their talent teams:

Findem helps you find the talent no one else is talking to, and reach out to them effortlessly. We provide the analysis and insights to keep refining your email strategy and make amazing hires.

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