How to write effective email subject lines to attract candidates

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4 mins, 8 secs read time

One of the most effective ways to find and attract top talent is through email outreach – but getting prospects interested in opening those emails is a constant challenge for recruiters. That’s why crafting an email subject line that grabs people’s attention and convinces them to read your email is a vital skill. A strong email subject line can help facilitate conversations with prospects and increase your email open rate.

To help you create more captivating prospect subject lines when sourcing candidates, we’re sharing our best practices and some pitfalls to avoid so you can start attracting great prospects and optimizing your email outreach. Check out these key tips on how to create enticing and impactful subject lines that will capture prospects’ attention:

  1. Keep the subject line clear and concise
    The subject line should be straightforward and clearly state your intention, especially if this is the first thing that prospects will read to decide whether to open your email and continue reading. Brevity is also key in creating an effective email subject line, and we’ll dive into that in a moment.
  2. Mention the job’s location or if it’s a remote opportunity
    It helps to specify the job’s location or mention if it’s remote in the subject line so the prospect knows whether the opportunity is suitable to them right away. This can help increase open rates, especially if the job opening is local to the prospect or if it’s a remote one that offers more flexibility.
  3. Add elements of personalization
    The email subject line should always be personalized and include the prospect’s name, current job title or company. When an email is specifically addressed to someone that way, they’re more likely to open it than a generic email that doesn’t mention anything in particular about them.
  4. Highlight relevant information
    Since the subject line should capture the prospect’s attention and entice them to open and read your email, it’s fundamental to include information that’s relevant to them. If the prospect has a specific background or skill that you’re looking for in your open position, try using keywords that match their experience so your subject line resonates with them.
  5. Test different subject lines to find what works best
    Testing different subject lines is key to see which ones perform the best. While one subject line may attract some prospects, it won’t always be effective for everyone else. If you have multiple email campaigns, you’ll likely see different results across them depending on what your goals are for each campaign so it’s essential to keep testing and find what works best for you.

Subject line examples

Here are some effective email subject lines we’ve seen success with that you can start using in your outreach campaigns:

  • Subject: Congrats [First name] on [A recent or relevant accomplishment, milestone or update the prospect shared]
  • Subject: Remote [Job title] at [Your company]
  • Subject: [Their company] to [Your company]
  • Subject: [First name], about your LinkedIn post (or comment)
  • Subject: [Department] opportunity @ [Your company] – let’s chat?

You’ll want to look at the open rates to measure the performance and success of your email subject lines. We recommend aiming for 50% or higher as the baseline for a good open rate for recruiting emails.

Common mistakes to avoid

When crafting your email subject line, it's easy to make mistakes so we’ve outlined these common pitfalls so you can ensure your subject line is enticing and impactful:

  1. Having lengthy subject lines
    Since most people use their mobile devices to check and read their emails, it’s crucial to keep the email subject line succinct. To prevent your subject line from getting cut off on mobile devices, we recommend keeping the character limit to 30 or less to optimize the limited space available.
  2. Being vague and impersonal
    If the subject line is vague and doesn’t include any personalization, it can immediately deter the prospect from opening your email. Instead, they might mark your email as spam or delete it entirely since it seems generic and impersonal.
  3. Using all caps
    Using caps lock in the subject line can make it look suspicious to email service providers and their spam filters so it’s best to use it sparingly or avoid it altogether. Plus, the tone of all caps could be construed as a bit too intense.
  4. Including spam trigger words
    It’s critical to avoid using words such as “free,” “urgent,” “last chance” or any other words that might be flagged by spam filters. If your email subject line includes any language that sounds like spam, your email could be sent directly to the spam folder before the prospect even has a chance to read it.

Since email subject lines can determine the performance and success of your email outreach campaign as a whole, it’s important to take the time to ensure they are engaging and effective. By following all the tips we’ve outlined, you can start seeing better engagement with your emails and attracting more great prospects.


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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