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Email Outreach: 5 Messaging Tips to Get Candidates to Respond

You’ve got a position to fill, but the right candidates haven’t applied yet. You can sit there and wait, or do some email outreach to get the right candidates to apply.

What’s it gonna be?

Sitting around waiting probably isn’t an option. Not when you’ve got a critical position to fill that helps complete your team and contributes to the mission or bottom line of your organization.

If the right candidates haven’t come to you, it’s time for you to go to them with email outreach.

But that doesn’t mean you drop their name into a template and hit send. If you want results from email outreach, here are 5 messaging tips to get the most out of this recruiting strategy.

1. Do your homework on potential candidates

Before you can leverage email outreach to fill that open position, you need to find qualified candidates to connect with. And there’s lot of places you can do this like:

  • - Social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook
  • - Niche industry or association forums
  • - Google search + [name of the position you need to fill]
  • - Your referral network

So you’ve identified some potential candidates...now what?

Here’s where you need to do some homework. 

Once you find a potential candidate, read their social media profile, study their posts, look at their comments, education, experience, and portfolio.

Take notes on anything that sounds interesting or stands out. You’ll use this in your email outreach to get noticed.

2. Use the Chat-Over-Coffee method to create an email outreach message

Once you find a potential candidate and gleaned a few interesting details about them, you can write an email outreach message.

A word of advice...Don’t use a template for this.

Why? Everybody’s email is flooded with spammy-style messages these days. If you show up that way, the chances of your message getting opened and getting a response are pretty low.

Think about it like chatting over coffee with someone you just met.

It’s friendly, light, and conversational. Not all-business formal and transactional. That’s how you want to think about writing an email outreach message to a potential candidate. And even though you’re probably trying to fill a position ASAP, don’t rush the process. Your goal with email outreach to potential candidates is to get a conversation started.

Ready to write an email outreach message? Here’s what to do next:

3. Write an irresistible subject line

It’s the number one barrier to email outreach.

If your subject line doesn’t get a candidate’s attention, one-click sends your message to the trash. And that’s not what you want.

You might be feeling the urge to go with a traditional subject line (We’re hiring, Positions available, or Help wanted), but it’s tough to stand out this way.

Instead, get a little creative with your subject lines. Here are a few ideas:

  • - Meet for coffee? It’s on me.
  • - Hey [First Name], just saw your LinkedIn profile. Let’s chat.
  • - Your skills are a perfect match. Let’s talk.
  • - What if...? We’re looking for a [name of position]

Nail the subject line, and you’re ready for the next email outreach step to connect with candidates.

4. Use a conversational greeting

When you meet someone for the first time, how do introductions usually go?

Super formal...like all pomp and circumstance or more casual and conversational?

In most cases, it’s the latter. It’s more comfortable, more natural, makes it easier to break the ice. And that’s how you want to start your email outreach message to a candidate.

Some conversational greetings that work include:

  • - Hi [First Name]
  • - Hey [First Name]
  • - Hello [First Name]

In most cases the old-school, business-greetings like “Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dear” aren’t used as much any more.

5. Write an email outreach message that gets noticed

You’ve made it this far, so what do you say in the email outreach message to a potential candidate?

The truth...most people make this a lot harder than it needs to be.

The goal of email outreach is pretty simple...think about it like this:

  • - You’re just trying to start a conversation with a potential candidate who looks like a good fit for a position you need to fill. That’s it.

At this point, you’re not trying to get them to leave their job, negotiate salary and benefits, discuss who they’ll report to, or schedule their day-one onboarding orientation.

You’re just trying to get them to reply, engage, start a conversation. Make sense?

Now you put all the pieces together (including those nuggets of interesting info you found about your potential candidate), like this:

Subject: Meet for coffee? It’s on me.

Hi [First Name],

How’s it going?

I noticed [interesting fact on your LinkedIn profile, site, blog, comment, etc.,  about (work,
career, education, experience, etc.] Your background really fits a position I’m trying to fill
at [organization].

I’d like to treat you to coffee or meet on a call.

Would it make sense to chat and see if this might be a good fit?

Let me know.

[Your name & contact info]

Send a short, personalized message like this to a handful of handpicked candidates that look like a good fit for your position, and you’re bound to get some responses.

There’s no pressure. No commitment. Just a conversation about an opportunity to make a career move and level up. 

Use email outreach to find great candidates


Using email outreach this way is a smart strategy to help you fill open positions, and make connections with candidates you can stay in touch with for future openings.

Ready to find and hire top talent? See Canvas in action or contact our team at [email protected]

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