Nailing Cold OutreachGetting cold outreach right is tough. Really tough. Just think about how many emails you dismiss every day. If you’re like most people, you ignore a whopping 65% of your inbox and as little as 10% of LinkedIn InMail messages receive a response.
Getting cold outreach right is tough. Really tough. Just think about how many emails you dismiss every day. If you’re like most people, you ignore a whopping 65% of your inbox and as little as 10% of LinkedIn InMail messages receive a response. In order to see success longterm, having a stable hiring funnel is critical to the process. This means recruiters have an incredibly challenging task on their hands. How do you get candidates to open your messages, let alone respond to them?
Well, one thing recruiters have going for them is that most outbound candidate sourcing emails are extremely generic and unmemorable. And when you’re up against a sea of dull, uninspiring messages, you stand out. Of course, this is hard to do in practice, but we’ve got it down to a science. Below, we outline eight components of an outreach message that’s bound to bring in some whales.
8 elements of a great outreach message
Churning out emails at a high rate while still keeping them captivating takes time, but we know that an excellent outreach message will include all eight of these hallmarks:
Personality - Nothing screams boring louder than copy/pasting a section of the job description, slapping on a salutation at the beginning, and a “reach out to me if you think it’s a good fit” at the end. You want to signal to candidates that your company is a unique一dare we say it, fun一place to work. This is the time to showcase your brand. If your company’s copy has a cheeky slant, add that to your message. If you write in all lowercase, do it in the message. If you have a mascot, reference it in the message. Heck, add a gif! Your goal is to get them curious about your company, enough to read the whole message.
Personalization - It’s obvious when recruiters don’t do their research. They either: don’t mention your background, reference skills you used 3 years ago and haven’t used since, or they mention a role you never had. Don’t be this person. Do some proper stalking. Find an article they’ve published, their GitHub repository, or a LinkedIn post where a colleague or manager shouted them out. Tell them how impressed you were by their work and how it directly relates to the job you’re recruiting for. This shows you took the time to explore their past work, and that you care about where they end up and feel your company is the best match for their skills and experience.
Salary and compensation structures - You will rarely see this in an outreach email, which is exactly why you should include it. The reality is that if a job sounds cool enough, people will take an intro call just to ask about compensation. So why not give it to them upfront? Of course, you don’t need to put an exact dollar amount一a range or even a few details about how you think about compensation at your company is entirely acceptable. But even mentioning it signifies that you’re already anticipating the candidate’s next move.
A snappy subject line - Grabbing a candidate’s attention starts at the subject line. The subject needs to be enticing, timely, and it should be a nod to something about the candidate. Use the personalization research you’ve done to weave that into an eye-catching subject line. Even using the candidate's name in the subject line can increase an open rate by up to 26%.
**Gifs and emojis **- It might sound childish, but emojis and gifs can be the perfect conversation starter. Emails with emojis have a higher click-through rate, as do gifs. Gifs can showcase parts of your product or even the excitement over a candidate. And although it sounds silly, using emojis the right way can also indicate that your startup is “with the times,” so to speak.
An open invitation - Candidates may not always be ready to commit when you reach out to them or they may not even be actively pursuing a job search. So don’t pressure them. Instead, ask about what candidates are looking for in a new role and what it will take for them to make a move. Keep this in mind as you continue to talk to them一it shows that you listened.
A picture of the role and organization - It’s hard to know what life is like at a company just from looking at a website. Do you all eat lunch together? Do you have special rituals? Spotlight the unusual traditions, perks, and benefits that your company has. Add pictures of events or even add short gifs of current employees talking about their day-to-day.
How candidates can add value - People want to get satisfaction out of their work. So much so, that HBR found 9 out of 10 people are willing to earn less money to do more meaningful work. Highlight exactly how candidates’ talents and expertise will bring value to your organization. Get them excited about how people are recognized for their work and cite examples of how your company has made an impact.
Examples of bad outreach messages
Sometimes seeing what *not *to do can help conceptualize what you should do. Let’s take a look at some examples of poorly written outreach messages to get your neurons firing.
From the first line, something is off about this message. Not only is there no comma after the candidate’s name, but the writer is also quite liberal with their exclamation points. But that’s really not the worst part of this message. The recruiter is talking about how the candidate’s background is a strong match for the role, but doesn’t explain why. Is it because of previous experience? Particular skills? The recruiter is also asking the candidate to apply before even speaking with them about the role. This seems fishy. Why not get on the phone and review the interview process in detail before asking for a resume?
Short and sweet, but lacking substance. Keeping things short and sweet can be good, but not in this case. The recruiter doesn’t seem to be saying much as all. What's the program the candidate would be managing? What would their title be? Why does the recruiter think the candidate is a good fit? Is the role in person, since they reference a city? What is the company’s name? And why is “streaming” capitalized? With all these questions running through a candidate’s mind, it’s no surprise that this would get overlooked.
Here’s another one that might look fine at first glance, but gets worse as you examine it. For one, there’s no explanation for why the candidate is a good fit for the role. The candidate hasn’t worked with Salesforce since 2017 and hasn’t touched nCino since 2015. Why is this something they’d be interested in now? It’s also odd that the recruiter mentions salary, but only that it’s dependent on experience, something that the recruiter could’ve easily gleaned from looking at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. There’s also no mention of what company the candidate would be working for, and apparently, there is only one main skill required. And lastly, the recruiter asks for a resume upfront, which, again, is strange without any information as to why the candidate would be a good fit for the position.
Improve your response rate with automation
Cold outreach is both an art and a science. You have to grab candidates’ attention, include all the main points they are scanning for, and remember to follow up. And that’s just for one candidate for one role. Imagine juggling multiple roles at once.
Even if you’re super organized, keeping up with the insane clip of startup hiring is a near-impossible task for one person. To make things easier, you should have an automated email sequence to send predetermined messages on a scheduled timeframe. Ideally, that’s where Talent CRM comes into play. Talent CRM automatically finds and validates prospect email addresses, allows you to personalize them at scale, and shares outreach history so that your whole HR team will be on the same page. But don’t just take our word for it一sign up for a free trial of Talent CRM today.