The Messaging Strategy Recipe For Successful Candidate Outreach

October 18, 2022

Update Your Messaging Strategy To See Candidate Outreach Success 

Knowing how to best approach and contact candidates is a key to hiring success, which is why it is so important to review and update your candidate outreach strategies in order to see engagement wins – so let’s dive in!


 With on average 80% of the workforce considered “passive” talent, there is no doubt that it is a difficult task to prompt engagement. So what can you do to improve your chances? One of the most impactful areas is how you craft your messages and your messaging sequence when reaching out to potential candidates.


Initial Outreach

With the level of noise and competition in the market it is important that your first cold email is close to spot on. A reassuring statistic is that a huge 90% of talent are open to hearing about new career opportunities – even if they’re not classed as actively looking. You’re reaching out to inspire a response and initiate a relationship; so think of your outreach as a structured expression of curiosity and excitement at the possibilities.


Subject Line

The race is lost before the klaxon sounds if a potential candidate does not open your email, so offer them a good reason to with a stand-out subject line. 

Studies have shown that flattery is a remarkably effective way of intriguing the recipient. Try a subject line that appeals to the ego like “Could you be the newest member of our growing X team?” This will hopefully prompt them to at least click in and learn more. Be creative and look to stand out from the noise.


Email Body

Now onto the body, separate out this section with subheadings to make it easier to read, understand and follow. We would suggest starting off by telling them how you found them and show you did your homework. Personalisation goes hand-in-hand with flattery; show that you’ve done your research – if they’ve recently worked on an interesting project mention that, look into their experience that aligns with the role and comment on the match, or even just something as simple as using their first name can work. 

Next we’d recommend telling them a little bit about who you are as a company, linking where they can find out more, and what role you’re looking to fill. When wording these few lines, keep in mind the candidates’ point of view and at the end of each point ask yourself “What’s in this for me?” If the story you’re telling here does not stand out as attractive or beneficial, why would they engage?

It is easy to go off on a tangent because you know the ins and outs of the company and its goals, so it’s really important to take a step back and look at it as if you had no prior knowledge of the company and think what would you want to know, and what would make it attractive? Stay focused on engaging the candidate and not giving every detail about the company. 

It can help to ask questions about the work or tools they are passionate about where possible, naturally they will want to answer thus sparking a response. Give them a reason to reply and show that you are interested in them. 


Call to Action

A crucial element of your initial outreach must be the call to action. Make it clear and accessible for them to take the next steps if interested, we would propose an initial soft-touch phone call. To initiate this, tell them you’d love to find out if the role is truly aligned with their aspirations, ask if they’re open to hearing more, and suggest the conversation. Ensure that your sign off signature to this email has up-to-date details of your name, position, company info, LinkedIn link and phone number so that if they do want to reach you, they can do so easily.


Follow Up

Let’s hope that the first email grabs the attention of some! But in recruitment, as in life, persistence pays. A ‘one-and-done’ approach to outreach doesn’t cut it anymore, so it is important to craft a successful email sequence.

Recent research from Gem shows that a single email receives, on average, a 13% reply rate, while a 4-email sequence receives a 32% reply rate. In other words, following up means more-than-doubling your chances of receiving an interested response from a prospective candidate.

Your follow-ups will demand different strategies to that first cold email. They’ll emphasise elements of your EVP, add new value by shining a light on other facets of the company, and may be “sent from” other members of your organisation like the hiring manager or a C-level member. We would suggest adapting language and the ask to include things like “Let me know your thoughts on this” or “Would love to discuss this in more detail, how is Monday morning for you?”.

Take some time at the start of a recruitment project to plan your outreach sequence, map out the content and information you are going to send in each message, get buy-in from other stakeholders and calendar the sequencing and timing of your follow up messages. 


 Essentially, your outreach sequence should be the unfolding of a narrative about your company, its open role, and your prospective candidates’ place in that story.


Recruitment is not just about finding the right people, it is as important to understand how best to engage. With a strong opening email, and followed by a consistent outreach sequence you can stand out from the noise and have greater success in candidate outreach. We believe the best candidate outreach provides value to companies and candidates by engaging and attracting those candidates best suited and most interested in a company and their roles. 


Try applying this advice to your next outreach campaign and hopefully, you will see the results.

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