How to Write Effective Cold Emails That Get Candidate Responses

March 02, 2023 4 min read

As the name suggests, cold emailing can feel distant, uncertain, and well… cold.

You're reaching out to talent that you've never spoken to, but somehow need to at the very least pique their interest in an opportunity and at best get a response.

It seems daunting, but consistent principles will help guide the way.

Here are some principles for writing a successful cold email body.

Principle 1: Write how you talk, but better

Whether it's a one-to-one or one-to-many email, most candidates like to feel they're hearing from an actual person.

Don't feel like you suddenly have to become a CEO or college professor when crafting your email body. You likely got your job in part because you have the charm, intelligence, and skillset to connect with people.

How can you present the information in a clear, concise, and thoroughly human way? That should be your goal! Let candidates know there's someone real on the other side of the inbox.

However, and this is a big HOWEVER, please remember that you are a stranger reaching out to this candidate. Becoming overly casual or familiar will also backfire.

Here are some playing-it-safe ways to add a human touch to your email:

Subtle humor

Most people love a good pun or gif. You can throw one into the email body to give a candidate a sense of your personality. Referencing a common interest, upcoming holiday, or event they're sure to know about can also work!

Keep it lighthearted, and if you shoot for something you learned from the candidate's social media, don't forget to ask yourself, “How would I respond to a stranger mentioning this in an email?”

Ask a genuine question

Know something about the candidate's field? Use curiosity to your advantage! People can tell when you are looking for honest insight and feedback. And people also love sharing their opinions!

Principle 2: Be specific

We don't know about the software engineers in your life, but the ones in ours are tired of getting recruitment emails!

Do you know why?

Because so few of them are relevant to their experience and interests! Whether it's emailing a front-end developer a full-stack position or engaging with a data scientist who just started at a new company, the tech world is rife with poorly thought-out recruitment emails!

Put away the fishnet and get out a pole! It's time to reach the right talent at the right time in the right way.

So, let's assume you have the right candidates at the right time. That's great! But now what?

Use the body of the email to demonstrate that you know this position is a good fit for them. It's as simple as that! Include details like:

  • a specific position title
  • projects they worked on
  • top skills that will allow them to succeed
  • locations this candidate lives in or has demonstrated interest in
  • appropriate salary ranges
  • exciting and specific opportunities

The right information will show the candidate you've thought through reaching out to them.

Principle 3: Include next steps

Are you hiring for the Avengers or Justice League? If so, that is awesome. If not, let's assume none of your candidates have superpowers to read your mind.

Ensure you are providing them context, so they know what will happen next. Whether it's the first email you've sent them or you are in the middle of an interview cycle, candidates don't like to feel lost. Let them know where they're at and where they're headed.

Having a delay on your end? Shoot off one extra email to let them know. Need to schedule a follow-up interview? Reach out and explain why.

Engaging with candidates via email is about clear communication and expectation setting. Provide those, and you'll be well on your way to a much better recruitment experience than many companies.

Principle 4: CTAs matter, y'all

If CTAs are new to you, it simply means Call to Action. It's the part of your email where you are trying to get the candidate to do something, whether that's reply to the email, schedule a meeting, or something else.

Please make your CTA:

  • Obvious
  • Clear
  • Easy to execute
  • Worth doing

If people don't know what to do with your email, guess what they will do? A whole lot of nothing!

In a cold outreach email, you're likely trying to gauge their interest and get a response. So, let them know you'd like to hear from them about just that.

Remember to practice empathy. Consider what the candidate may want and what is a good next step.

Are you just nurturing for a future role? Provide a link to a useful article related to the position you are seeking them for.

Do they need to schedule a meeting? Use a meeting scheduler so they can do it quickly and painlessly.

Whether you're looking for a simple click, form fill, or reply, be sure you're telling them what you want from them and how it will benefit them. In other words, be considerate and strategic. Candidates like knowing what you want and where they stand!

Crafting Captivating Cold Emails

These principles will help you develop some awesome emails. And, as always, please consider testing new ideas or concepts to see if your audience responds well. The more information you have, the better experience you can provide to your candidates!

For more insights on candidate engagement, take our Outbound Recruiting Engagement course today!


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