Best Practices & Benchmarks for Recruiting Email Outreach

How to make the most of email outreach for recruiting

November 11, 2021

BestPracticesforRecruitmentEmails-Meta

Recruiters today increasingly have to think like marketers. They need to be able to capture and retain the attention of their top candidates. Email is a powerful way to connect, especially when reaching out to passive candidates who aren’t aware of your company or the role. That’s one of the reasons why 85% of recruiters still use email as it has proven to be the most effective means of communication and preferred by candidates.

With so many recruiters using email, how do you make sure your messages stand out amongst the rest? And how do you measure performance so you can improve your response rates and ultimately secure the best hires? Below we have outlined what to do, avoid, and measure to gain the most traction with your email outreach.

Tips for Writing Amazing Recruiting Emails

A compelling recruitment email sequence is your first opportunity to convert a stellar candidate into a stellar employee. While you aren’t drafting a formal letter, you still need to spend time creating email templates that will persuade recipients to take the next step in the application or interview process.

Be Concise

Data based on analyzing 40 million emails shows that emails with 50 - 125 words received a 50% response rate. Everyone has shorter attention spans these days and the average person only spends 12 seconds reading an email.

Perfect Your Preview Text

Preview text is like a second subject line. Most email servers show a short preview, around 100 characters, of the body of the email. Optimizing your preview text can increase your open rate by 45%.

Personalize Your Message

The body of your email needs to include more than just your candidate’s name to be considered personal or unique. If you’re reaching out to younger candidates for entry level positions, consider mentioning the college they attended. For later stage employees, mention their current or previous employers and relevant skills.

If you really want to catch a prospect’s attention, include outside interests of theirs or causes they care about. This may sound like a manual and time consuming task but it doesn’t have to be with the proper tool. Fetcher can help you curate your emails by automatically plugging in the names, desired roles, past positions, etc. of candidates.

Custom Templates

Include a Call to Action

Always finish your outreach emails with a Call to Action (CTA). Should the candidate respond to you directly to schedule a screening call? Or do you want them to complete an application through your career page? Your CTA should let the candidate know specifically what you’re asking them to do. This is the goal behind sending the email so don’t just end with, “Let me know if you’re interested!” Outline what the next steps are and how to take them.

Optimize for Mobile

66% of emails are opened on mobile devices. That means brevity is key. Get straight to your point. And if you’re using branded content like graphics in the email, make sure it translates to a mobile screen correctly. If not, it may turn a candidate off as it shows you’re not paying attention to detail.

Email Timing & Cadence

Fetcher data suggests the best time to send initial outreach emails is on Tuesdays between 8 am and 10 am in the candidate’s time zone. It’s best to vary the time and day of the week that you’re sending follow up emails. This will increase your chances of catching candidates since everyone has different schedules. You can always adjust your timing based on your results. Aim to send follow up emails two and four days after the initial email. With busy schedules, many people might forget to respond to the initial email or lose it in their inboxes.

Our data shows that roughly half of candidates contacted will be interested after a first email. Although interest does decrease with each follow-up email, interest rates are still as high as 30% at the third touchpoint. That means that, even when following up a second and third time, one in three of those candidates is interested!

Email or LinkedIn InMail? Take a look at which one is more impactful for cold outreach.

Measuring the Success of Your Email Outreach

While we can give you tips and tricks to improve the performance of your email outreach, you’ll need to make tweaks depending on your industry, your brand, and the roles you’re looking for. To determine how to optimize your outreach, you must determine what to measure and analyze your results.

Open Rates

Your open rate compares the number of opened emails versus the number of emails sent. Open rates vary by role and industry but a good benchmark would be to aim for an open ratebetween 20-30%.

To improve low open rates: Low open rates indicate that you need to switch up your subject lines and preview text. We’re dedicating an entire post to writing great subject lines next week because getting candidates to open the email is a crucial first step! You may also see open rates vary based on sender; for instance, emails that come from the hiring manager frequently see higher open rates than emails from a recruiter or HR.

Click Through Rates

“Click through” means a candidate clicks at least one of the links provided in your email such as a link to the job description. It signals that the candidate went a step beyond just opening the email. This can be used to gage a candidate’s overall interest in the company or position. In most cases, clicks rates of 2% or higher are above average.

To improve low click rates: If click through rates are low, consider including all relevant information in the body of the email rather than providing outside links. Make sure link text has context and isn’t too generic like “Click here.” It should be relevant and descriptive (as in, it’s clear where it’s taking the reader).

Response Rates

Response rates are the percentage of emailed candidates that actually respond to your outreach, positively or negatively. While positive responses are ideal, even responses that indicate that a candidate isn’t interested are helpful. They let recruiters and hiring managers know how to move forward and narrow their candidate pool to target those who actually will be interested. While the number will vary by role, most recruiters see responses to their emails about 20% of the time — that’s 2 responses for every 10 emails sent.

To improve low response rates: This one is tricky; there are a number of factors that contribute to response rates. It could be impacted by your email content or the timing of your emails, and it could also depend on the role that you are hiring for and how it’s framed. If you are seeing much lower response rates for certain roles than for others, review the job description and benefits listed for the role. Are they communicated clearly?

Conversion Rates

Conversion rate vary depending on what you’d like to measure, and how your hiring process is set up. Most likely, a conversion happens when a candidate moves to the next stage in the process. This includes having an interviews scheduled, an offer sent, or an offers accepted (woo hoo!)

To improve low conversion rates: Low interview conversion rates could indicate that emails aren’t keeping a candidate’s attention or that you need to learn more about your candidate before moving them to the next phase. It could also mean that your processes or timing are off; if you take too long to get back to a candidate after an interview, it’s likely that they’ll lose interest or get recruited by another company.

Analyze Demographics

Look at what demographics you are targeting. Your open and response rates could be low because you’ve been unintentionally narrowing your talent pool. According to Fetcher’s data, women are still emailed almost half as much as men but they respond at the same rate. It seems straightforward, but if a company wants to increase the number of women in their pipeline overall, they need to start by sourcing and emailing more women rather than rely on decisions later in the pipeline.

Email Outreach Made Simple & Effective

Optimizing and analyzing your email outreach might seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Fetcher’s recruiting automation platform allows you to personalize your email messaging to keep candidates engaged through the hiring process. With Fetcher, you can decide how many touchpoints are in your email sequences, and easily keep track of where each candidate is in the sequence.

You also have access to a range of key metrics so you can see where to improve your emails. You’ll see how many candidates you’ve contacted, the percent of emails opened, response rates, and the number of candidates interested. Fetcher provides a quick snapshot as well as your results charted over time so you can track your progress. Reach out to us to see how we can help you maximize the effectiveness of your email outreach!


Check out our other blog posts for more talent acquisition tips and insights into recruiting trends.

About Fetcher

At Fetcher, our mission is to introduce companies to the people who will help them change the world. Our full-service, recruiting automation platform automates those repetitive, top-of-funnel tasks, so you can focus more on candidate engagement & team collaboration. Simplify Sourcing. Optimize Outreach. Hire Top Talent. Learn more at fetcher.ai.

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