How to Improve Your Response Rates in Recruitment Email Outreach

You know how it works. 

  1. You want to recruit your next set of high performers. 
  2. You send out a few hundred emails to potential candidates, then wait for a response. 
  3. You get some replies. A few have potential, if not the necessary qualifications or experience you're seeking. 

But here’s the frustrating part: Your rockstar candidate, that exceptional team player who has the ability to take your company to greater heights, doesn’t even open the initial outreach email. For your talent acquisition team, spending so much time and effort without great results is not only exasperating, but highly unproductive. 

How do you ensure top talent responds to your hiring emails? The answer lies in personalized outreach—sending emails that are tailored for each candidate.

Personalization is easier than you think

I know what you're thinking—personalization takes way too much time. However, that’s not the case anymore. Today, technology allows you to quickly send personalized emails at scale and get amazing response rates.  

But first, let’s answer the question: Why is personalization so crucial? Here are three reasons why you should send personalized emails. 

  • Cut through the noise

How many emails do you think a top performer gets every day? Dozens!

Good candidates have lots on their plate and they won’t even open your email if the subject isn’t compelling enough. Even if they do open it, they won’t read beyond the first two lines of your email if you can’t pique their interest immediately. Forget about them responding. 

Most generic recruitment outreach emails don’t get read because good candidates get too many of them. Try personalizing your subject line and the first couple of lines in your email to get their attention.

  • Demonstrate genuine interest 

Talented passive candidates are not looking for a job, at least not seriously. When someone gets an email from you that’s not personalized, she knows that you are not interested in her in particular. It’s obvious you're emailing dozens of people from a database. So why should she bother to respond?

If your customized email can demonstrate that you have done your research and are serious about her as a potential applicant, she will give you far more attention. Rachel Saunders, a Yahoo recruiter, says in a LinkedIn interview, “When I send a mildly tailored email, I usually get a 25 percent response rate. However, when I really customize the email and show the candidate I’ve done my homework, the response rate jumps to 60-70 percent.”

  • Sell your company

“The importance of a personalized email to an individual cannot be stressed enough. Often times, this is the first impression an individual has directly with the company. It's also a competitive advantage in the age of being a candidate-driven market,”  says Clifton Jadoo, a Technical Recruiter at Foursquare.

In this “candidate-driven market,” isn’t your HR team “selling” your company to prospective candidates? If that’s the case, you have to think like a marketer.

With the lines between HR and marketing blurring, as mentioned in this Forbes article, talent acquisition specialists must realize that personalization is the key to recruiting success. Marketers know if you want a steady increase of sales and loyal customers, personalization is the way to go. According to a Gartner study: By 2018, companies that have “fully invested in all types of personalization” will outsell companies that have not by 20 percent.

How do you personalize at scale and do it productively?

You're probably wondering: "How will I ever find the time to personalize?" But in reality, personalization increases your productivity.

The email outreach process comprises several tasks that are routine and extremely time consuming. Today, technology allows you automate several stages of the outreach process, saving you hours every week. You can invest that same time to personalize your emails and dramatically boost your response rates. Essentially, you send more emails in less time and get more responses.

Below are four ways automation tools can improve your productivity and increase your email response rate. 

  • Click "Send" just once 

Do you think you will have to send each email separately if you personalize your emails? Turns out, that’s completely unnecessary. 

The key to scaling personalization lies in using email templates and adding personalized sections to each email. This could be the person’s name, his current company name, a common connection on LinkedIn, or perhaps a common interest in chess or surfing.

An email outreach automation tool will let you do just that. You can construct targeted messages for each candidate and yet you can send dozens, even hundreds, of emails in one go. Moreover, you can schedule emails to be automatically sent at a particular time, which makes your day more flexible.

  • Completely automate follow-ups

Most recruiters spend hours a week sending follow-up emails to people who haven’t responded. But you know how incredibly time consuming this is! You have to keep checking who hasn’t replied, track that in a spreadsheet, and send them another email after another interval of time. No wonder so many recruiters forget to send follow-up emails.

Email outreach automation tools like Interseller make it unnecessary for you to follow up manually. You can easily create drip email campaigns that will automatically send follow-up emails if a response is not received from the first email. The moment someone replies, the system stops sending them further emails. What’s more, even these follow-up emails can be automatically personalized. 

  • No need for manual tracking

Another thing that eats up a big chunk of your day is keeping track of your entire outreach process and the status of your applications. How much time would you save every day if you didn’t have to manually keep track of everything or enter data from one tool to another? You could invest that time in personalizing your emails.

By using an integrated email outreach automation tool, you can automatically sync all of your data about the candidate like company, title, website, and social links with your ATS. 

  • Keep improving—automatically

What’s the easiest way to write better performing subject lines and email copy? 

By doing an A/B test. While sending a set of emails, you send a different version of an email to each half of your email list. Then, you compare the performance statistics of each version—your open, click, and response rates.

If you were using regular email, you would usually not have these performance statistics at all, so an A/B test is hardly possible. However, email automation tools allow you to A/B test different email versions to see which gets better results. It’s quite simple and just takes a few clicks. This is a powerful way to continually keep improving your response rates.

Stop settling for anything but top candidates

How often do you end up hiring people who are less than ideal because you don’t have more time to pursue better candidates?

By personalizing your emails, you’re better able to reach top talent. This results in them showing interest and eventually getting hired. You meet your goals more quickly, and that’s what productivity is all about. Ultimately, you can achieve all this by automating your personalized recruitment outreach.

What other ways do you think you can scale personalized outreach? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Talent Operations - Think Like A Marketer

Jonathan Grana

Jonathan Grana is the Founder of Interseller, an outbound automation platform that helps recruiting teams streamline their outreach to candidates. Prior to Interseller, Jonathan led engineering teams at several startups, where he sourced and hired dozens of engineers, designers, and product managers. 

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