The Secret Sauce - Personalized Candidate Outreach

Created: May 12, 2015 10:56AM PDT      Updated: Oct 22, 2015 10:27AM PDT
“Wait a second, TJ. We are not authors, we are just recruiters.”

To date, this is the most memorable objection that I’ve gotten when pushing my clients to send personalized outreach to passive technical candidates.

My response? I’m no author! Sure, maybe I have a fancy pants Berkeley Degree and get a little crafty with my words when I’m hyped up on my favorite dark roast...but connecting with a candidate isn’t rocket science. You are human after all, right? Okay phew… Then simply find a common thread on which to connect with another human, and do it.

“But TJ, this isn’t worth my time.”

Are you sure? Is a 65% email response rate and a 95% email open rate not worth an extra 30 seconds per candidate? Based on the aforementioned metrics I’ve achieved, I’d beg to differ. (For more info on my response rate data, check out my
Webinar on Email Campaigns

“Why can’t I just use a simple subject line like - Job Opportunity! Awesome startup with 35 million in funding?”

I won’t tell you why. I’ll show you. Check out the below images of REAL software developer inboxes:

Notice any patterns? How about, oh yeah, all of these emails are EXACTLY the same. They scream JOB OPP from every angle. Not a single subject line mentions the candidate. OUR company is awesome. OUR open role needs to be filled urgently. What happened to the candidate in all of this? Yeah, the awesome engineer that you’re hoping will earn you a $20,000 placement fee! You might want to butter them up a bit…

What is everyone’s favorite subject? Themselves. Ask me about my next Spartan Race or the last Zac Brown Band concert I attended and you’ll probably regret it. Why? Because 20 minutes later as your eyes start to glaze over I’ll still be talking. But you good sir, have just created a bond. Best friend for life? AKA BFFL? Is that what kids are saying nowadays? You’ve just opened the door to talk to me about any open job and you’ve successfully tapped into my network. All good things in the recruiting world.

Now how about a candidate with some actual technical skills.. like a software developer. The good news about these talented guys and gals is that they leave tons of evidence all over the internet about their skills and interests. Whereas we recruiting folk may be active on 4-5 social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc., software engineers easily double that.

Developers spend time on sites like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Meetup in order to hone their crafts, explore new technologies, and engage with other top developers in their respective fields. Software Engineers take pride in the work products they leave behind, might be a good idea to ask them about it!

If you want to read more about developer tendencies and facts, check out my article here -
The Facts - Understanding Software Developers in 2015.

“Okay fine TJ, you win. Teach me your ways.”

You’re in luck! I’m going to give you the key ingredients to my secret subject line sauce.

In the below chart I will outline WHERE I find fun facts about candidates and I will SHOW you examples of awesome personalized subject lines that will increase your RESPONSE RATES. 

Source Icon Section Example Subject Line
Stack Overflow

Ranking Hey Ignacio, top 2% of developers on Stack? Woah!
Q&A Hey Taylor, I noticed your Angular.js answers on Stack. Impressive!
Bio Hey Kristine, I checked out your Stack profile. JavaScript Ninja for sure!
General Activity Hey Galen, I noticed your Java activity on Stack Overflow!
Repositories Hey Rodrigo, just checked out your Ruby repos on GitHub. Some real gems :)
General Activity Hey Jason, I noticed your .NET activity on GitHub! Do you have a few minutes?
Blogs/Personal Websites
General Activity
Hey Jordan, just cruised around your personal website! Loved the UI and the frisbees :)
Hey Luke, just read your blog on HealthCare Recruiting! Can we chat about it?
Hey Brittany, loved your Pinterest article on wedding rings!
Bio Hey Jeff, Ninjaneer, Writer, and Cat Lover? How do you find the time for all of it!?
Recent Tweet Hey Adam, loved your tweet about Federer vs. Nadal. Do you play tennis?
Awards Hey Pete, Hottest HR Tech award? You must be proud!
Interests Hey Robert, Cal Football and HR Technology? We should definitely be friends :)
Experience/Skills Hey Jared, Account Management experience plus your MBA from NYU? You da man
Interests Hey Tom, I noticed your interest in underwater basket weaving! Very cool :)
Meetups Hey Pete, when is the next Cal Bears Tech meetup event? I'll see you there!
Design Portfolios

Portfolio examples
Hey Braden, just checked out your portfolio on Dribbble! Awesome mobile app you built :)

Hey Curtis, you worked on World of Warcraft? WOW. Pun Intended :)
Moby Games

Obviously I didn't cover every site out there, but hopefully this is enough to get you started! TalentBin crawls over 40 websites, a more complete list can be found here

So the next time you're ready to click send on a bulk pre-packaged spammy recruiting email, don't. Take a few extra seconds to customize a small part of the message and I promise you that your positive response rate will go up, your number of burned bridges over time will go down, and hey you might even make some friends along the way. Good recruiters and developers everywhere thank you in advance. 

As always, if you'd like to discuss messaging strategies further, you can contact any of the
TalentBin Product Specialists.

Want to watch a video on subject line best practices? Check out my Subject Line Webinar


About the Author

TJ Wynn is a TalentBin Product Specialist Team Lead and the creator of the TalentBin webinar series.

During his 2 years at the company, he has led both 1st month and Ongoing training teams, trained 1000+ recruiters, and is considered a subject matter expert in passive candidate outreach strategy.

Connect with TJ on LinkedIn!

Q​uestions? Thoughts? Either c​ontact your Product Specialist, reach out to us at anytime, or leave a comment below!
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