How to use email personalization to attract great candidates

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4 mins, 56 secs read time

Have you ever sent (what you thought was) the perfect email to an awesome potential candidate, only to get left on read? Finding great prospects is only half the battle in sourcing – and relatively easy compared to actually connecting with them.

As you already know, great prospects usually already have jobs, so we often have to tap into proactive candidate sourcing, rather than passively waiting for them to apply. One way recruiters often try to connect with prospects is through cold email outreach. While this is an effective and efficient way to get in touch with prospects, knowing how to best engage them can be extremely challenging.

To convince prospects that they'd be great candidates for your open roles, you’ll need to spend time personalizing your emails to demonstrate that you crafted them with the recipient in mind.

Since email personalization can be time-consuming, we’re sharing some best practices and common mistakes to avoid so you can save time crafting customized emails that stand out and generate more engagement and replies.

Email personalization best practices

  1. Greeting prospects with their preferred name
    While subtle, email greetings are effective at communicating your company’s culture and values.

    Your greeting and opening line gives prospects a sense of who you are and what your intentions are, so it’s important to use the opportunity to make a good impression.

    One way to create a positive impression is by using the prospect’s preferred name. If you notice they have a preferred name on LinkedIn, use that in your outreach. For example, if a prospect’s name is William but prefers being called Will, it might feel more personal to greet them by that name.

    You can also use familiar and friendly greetings in your email outreach such as Hi/Hey/Hello [first name].
  2. Mentioning relevant shared interests or commonalities
    If you don't have a personal connection with a prospect yet, try establishing one by highlighting relevant shared interests or commonalities that you come across while researching them. This can include mutual LinkedIn connections or mentioning one (or more) of your company’s goals and initiatives that might resonate with the prospect. For example, if they value internal career mobility and flexible work hours, including them in your outreach can be effective.
  3. Acknowledging the prospect’s achievements
    If you notice any relevant skills, experiences or achievements on the prospect’s LinkedIn or website that would be beneficial to the job opportunity, it’s worth noting this in your email. Highlighting why you’re contacting them in your initial outreach is key, especially if their skills and background align with the role you’re recruiting for. They’ll appreciate the time and effort you spent thoughtfully researching them.
  4. Highlighting the company and role’s unique value
    As a recruiter, it’s important to highlight the company and role’s unique value to prospects. Why should they consider this role and your company over another opportunity?

    If there are specific values, initiatives and career goals that the prospect cares about, mention how your company and this role can offer them that. For instance, if they value a diverse and welcoming work environment, you can include how your company is actively working towards that through DE&I initiatives.

Email personalization mistakes to avoid

It's easy to make mistakes when personalizing emails so we've highlighted these four common pitfalls you should avoid to ensure your email is relevant and intriguing to prospects:

  1. Targeting mass prospects instead of the right prospects
    Finding and hiring the right candidate is critical in recruiting, but a common mistake is not targeting the right prospects. Before reaching out, it’s important to create a vetted and segmented list of prospects based on the role’s criteria. It will save you a tremendous amount of time upfront knowing that the prospects you’re reaching out to have the experience and skills you’re looking for in your open roles
  2. Lack of in-depth personalization
    When it comes to tailoring your email outreach, try to go beyond surface level personalization such as mentioning the prospect’s name, current title and company.

    Your message needs to highlight more substantial information about the prospect to show that you really did your research. Prospects can tell if there’s minimal email personalization, so having enough personal points to create a one-to-one connection is critical.
  3. Focusing on yourself and the company instead of the prospect
    If your email focuses too much on you and your company rather than the prospect, it can discourage them from engaging with you. The prospect might see this as being salesy since you’re focused on selling them the job opportunity instead of learning whether the role resonates with them and what they’re looking for in their next role.

    A better approach is letting the prospect know you’d like to discuss the open role in detail and that you’d like to learn more about their career goals. This way, you can share more information about the role and get a better understanding of what they want in their next career move. It also allows you to properly vet prospects and determine early on whether they’re a right fit for the open position or if another role may suit them better.
  4. Sharing too much information upfront
    It’s important not to share too much information about the company and role right away, especially if this is your first touchpoint with the prospect. Bombarding prospects with information while they’re deciding if they’re interested in the role can overwhelm them.

    Instead, it’s best to keep your email succinct and include enough relevant information in your first email to entice prospects to learn more. By providing information in digestible chunks, you’ll always have new information to share while building relationships with them.


While it can be time-consuming, making the effort to thoughtfully personalize your messages will yield better results for your email outreach in the long run. When you have a targeted and smaller list of prospects, it's beneficial to spend more time carefully crafting messages that will resonate with them.

Learn more about Greenhouse Recruiting and Sourcing Automation by connecting with a member of our team today.

Jennifer Vu

Jennifer Vu

is Content Marketing Manager – Sourcing, at Greenhouse. Prior to joining Greenhouse, Jenn worked on content creation and product development focused on sourcing during her time at Interseller. When she’s not whipping up a new blog post, she enjoys reading and refining her culinary skills. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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