How to Craft Recruitment Emails that Candidates Can’t Resist

Jenn Thomas

Did you know the average employee receives more than 100 business emails per day? Considering the congestion in a typical candidate’s inbox, creating an email campaign that stands out with your recruitment audience may seem daunting. 
 

But according to Ashley Cheretes, former Head of Employer Brand and Recruitment at Cigna, applying some best practices regarding email content, design, and timing can significantly boost results. In fact, she and her team have successfully designed multiple email campaigns that produced open and conversion rates far above average—some generating more than 2,200 leads and 1,300 applications!
 

What’s her secret? Cheretes shared 4 top tips to get job seekers to open, read, and take action at this year’s IAMPHENOM conference:

 

1. Use the Candidate Journey to Create Timely, Useful Content

Consider what questions candidates ask along every step of the job search journey, and develop email content that provides answers. This can increase the relevance of your emails, which is a key aspect of attracting your target audience’s attention. 
 

To help you understand a job seeker’s thought process, employ a candidate journey map—a visual representation of all the touchpoints candidates have with your brand during different stages of the talent journey.

Talent journey map example


Here are a few examples of questions that arise throughout the candidate journey, and email content topics derived from each:

Stage: Awareness/Consideration

  • Questions: What does this company do? What are its values and culture? What’s in it for me? 
  • Relevant Email Content Topics: Company overview and mission; Employee benefits and perks
     

Stage: Interest

  • Questions: What jobs am I a fit for? What would my day-to-day be like?
  • Relevant Email Content Topics: Job training details; Employee stories/team profiles
     

Stage: Application Process

  • Questions: What’s the application process? Has my application been received?
  • Relevant Email Content Topics: Application confirmation; What to expect after applying
     

Stage: Selection Process

  • Questions: What’s the interview process? Are they interested in me—and am I interested in them?
  • Relevant Email Content Topics: Interview status updates; What to expect during the interview process 
     

Stage: Hire/Become New Employee

  • Questions: What do I need to do before I start? How can I get involved?
  • Relevant Email Content Topics: Background check information; Employee Resource Group information
     

In general, Cheretes says, the goal should be to convey “I can help you” rather than “Let me sell you something.” 

 

2. Design Emails that Are Mobile-Friendly & Scannable

More and more, businesses are grasping the importance of designing for the mobile environment. And for good reason—nearly 50% of email opens occur on mobile devices. 
 

Studies also show that people only scan emails. In fact, 67% of email readers skip the intro copy altogether. Presenting information in an “F Pattern” helps guide recipients’ eyes to the most important aspects of your message.

Example of F pattern


In addition: 

  • Lead with the most important message, and include a clear call to action (CTA).

  • Present information in single idea “chunks.” 

  • Include a headline and an image with each chunk, and use color and bolding to attract the eye.

  • Limit CTAs to one per email. Multiple CTAs can lead to abandonment.

 

3. Craft a Subject Line that Will Inspire Opens

“Your subject line is everything,” Cheretes stresses. Subject lines should be short, compelling, and relevant to the recipient. Here are her overall tips for success:

  • Limit subject lines to 4 to 7 words. Multiple studies have shown that subject lines within this length are more likely to garner opens and engagement. 

  • Identify your target candidate’s motivators. Asking questions of people who held the role (e.g., “What made you want to stay in this job?”) can provide valuable clues to formulate an effective subject line, such as "We understand #MomLife at work".

  • Personalize in a way that makes sense for recipients. Try combining their first name or their company’s name with something familiar, such as "[FirstName], how’s life at [Company]?"

  • Be different and use a conversational tone. Try leading with a question and hint that you can provide the answer, such as "Is your job awesome? It could be!" Simple adjustments like using contractions can also strip unnecessary formalities out of your messaging.

 

4. Hit “Send” at the Right Time

The time of day an email is sent greatly impacts open rates, Cheretes found. For example, an email her team sent at 4 pm received a 20% open rate; the same email sent at 7 am had double the open rate, at 40%. 
 

She also recommends sending emails after 8 pm or early on weekend mornings, when they’re less likely to get lost in the shuffle of workday demands. Be sure to test different send times for your audience—what works for one set of candidates might be different for yours!

 

Ensure Ongoing Email Success

Looking for even more ways to nurture and convert leads through email campaigns? These additional tips can set you up for long-term success. 
 

  • Create templates for different needs and audiences. Having carefully crafted messaging at the ready pertaining to job descriptions, skills, qualifications, events, etc. will save valuable time later on. Using simple—yet strategic— email templates can help you reach diverse talent pools while staying on-brand to win conversions.
     

  • Use A/B testing to evaluate and make improvements. A/B testing involves splitting your audience to test different versions of your email. Remember that for A/B testing to be effective, it’s important to change only one variable—subject line, time the email is sent, placement of content, and content length are all things you can test and optimize based on your findings.
     

  • Leverage your analytics frequently and consistently. When recruitment emails are backed by powerful analytics, recruiters can see who’s opening and interacting with emails, allowing better lead nurturing and trend identification. 


Being able to craft effective email campaigns is always relevant—check out Ashley Cheretes’ entire presentation from IAMPHENOM below!