The Art of the Outreach Email

Created: Sep 09, 2015 12:16PM EST      Updated: Dec 09, 2015 01:53PM EST
The TalentBin product specialist team is in a unique position to chat with some of the best technical recruiters worldwide. We've seen it all when it comes to candidate engagement styles.

Our main takeaway - 
Email writing is an art form, and there is no perfect “style”. It depends on the market in which you recruit, the type of candidates that you engage with, the industry you’re recruiting for, and most of all it depends on YOU and your unique style. 

That being said, there are a number of things we believe all recruiters should avoid when writing an outreach email.

Before sending your outreach message, take a minute to read through the list below. If you can answer “Yes” to any of these questions, than maybe it’s time to rethink and retool your candidate email strategy.


Things to Avoid

1. Is your subject line generic?

  • “Java Developer Opportunity”
  • "Urgent Need for Sr. Software Engineer"
  • "Hi First Name!"
  • "Awesome Opportunity at an Amazing Company with $$ in funding"

2. Does your email contain a copy/pasted job description or take more than one scroll to read through?

Which of these emails would you likely read and/or reply to? (Actual Recruiter Emails)
Hey there Brandon!

I was just cruising around the web (saw your "about" page on invokedLogic and we're looking for an experienced Magento, PHP and overall Full-Stack developer - also liked your tweet about the underwater WWII planes), and I found what you've been up to on the software engineering front. Very impressive!

We're actively hiring for killer engineering staff here at {COMPANY}, and based on what you've been doing at Clearlink, I think you'd be interested in what we're up to. You'd be an asset here at {COMPANY} bringing in what you know about Magento (e-commerce & shopping cart), PHP and MySQL, and you'd have an opportunity to take a start-up to the next frontier while leading our other developers.

More about what it's like to work here and our open role Senior Software Engineer: {LINK}

You up for a quick phone chat to dig in some more? Just reply to get the conversation started!
Hi Jennifer:

Trust you are doing well! Here is our Direct End Client requirement which can be filled immediately. Please carefully read the Job Description below, and if you would like to pursue this opportunity please email me an updated version of your resume and below mentioned details at your earliest convenience. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Title: Senior Web Developer w/ SiteCore Exp.

Duration : 12 Month Contract
Location : {ADDRESS}
Req# : #

Job Description:
Duties: {COMPANY} is seeking to fill the position of Principal Web Developer for our Corporate Communications department. The person in this role will be responsible for day-to-day management of our web platform and should have a strong technical background with web development and the Sitecore Content Management System specifically. This position manages external web properties in support of corporate communication and marketing objectives. The ideal candidate is passionate about internet technologies, will have a clever, creative, problem-solving mindset and possess the ability to work independently leading specific projects while also supporting a diverse set of clients. The person in this role should also be a team player and have experience in managing multiple projects at once.

Job Responsibilities:
• Manage web platform (SiteCore) with system administrator responsibilities, coordinating with IT and external vendors when necessary
• Manage onboarding process for external vendors using our system to deliver web projects
• Work with Digital Communications team to understand web project objectives and determine possible technical solutions and/or provide technical guidance
• Build new websites and maintain existing websites using content management system
• Support Git, JIRA, FTP tools.
• Implement web analytics tools to monitor website performance and usage
• Research, evaluate, and implement new digital technologies and tools as needed; stay current with technology trends

Skills: 5-7 years of hands-on web development and content management system experience. Technical qualifications include:

Expertise in:
* Sitecore CMS / Sitecore Rocks / TDS
*.NET (C#)
* Javascript

Comfortable with:
* Photoshop

Preferred Qualifications: Ideal candidate has experience working with multi-site, multi-language Sitecore systems, understands security concepts and can lead technical design, implementation and deployment. Familiarity with flash, video, graphic editing and other common front-end web frameworks.

Education: B.S. in technology-related field

We require following details along with your latest resume to proceed for submission to my client..

Full Legal Name:
Availability for an interview:
If required Face to Face then ready to go on your expense:
Primary Phone Number:
Availability for start:
Current Location:
Currently on project?:
If NO, then when was your last assignment ended?:
Willing to travel? (Y/N):
Whether the commute is feasible for you on daily basis to client site?:
Last project’s pay rate or base salary:
Expected consulting hourly rate (W2 no benefits basis**):
Work authorization status in USA (Citizen, PR, H1, EAD etc.):
Do you have any scheduled interviews (other companies)? (Y/N):
Do you have any job offers pending? (Y/N):
Please provide dates for any planned vacation:
Reason for ending last assignment / Reason for searching a new job:
Date of Birth (MM/DD only) :
Criminal, Drug & reference check is required, have you been through this before ?

3. Does your email obscure any or all of the concrete facts about the role?

Unless you are prohibited from providing specific information in your email, we recommend painting a clear picture of the role for the candidate. Maybe, add factors like:
  • Company name
  • Salary range
  • Company website
Also, keep in mind, if you include a link to a company website or the job, you will be able to see if a candidate clicks that link within your Mailbox tab in TalentBin.

4. Does your email fail to explain EXACTLY why the candidate's background matches up with the role and/or fail to mention at least ONE of the candidate’s unique skills/interests?

Laziness inspires laziness. If a candidate feels like the recruiter did their homework, and values them as a unique candidate, they are much more likely to reply.
  • One of our Sr. Developers here at TalentBin: “If the recruiter didn’t spend 5 minutes researching my background and why I’m a fit, then why should I spend 5 minutes on a phone chat with them?”

5. Does your entire email focus on why the company/opportunity is great, but forget to mention why that particular candidate is awesome? Or conversely, does the email leave out all of the details that make this particular opportunity exciting?

Find the balance between convincing and praise. If you write an email that only focuses on the company, and can be used on any potential candidate, you are writing a generic outreach message. If you are only praising the candidate for his past work and skills, you might be filling his or her ego, but you are probably not doing a good job convincing that passive candidate to make a move.

If you are able to include a little bit of both, you are much more likely to generate a promising response. 

Hey Nik,

Hope all is well!

Had a chance to scope out your personal website, and it was great to learn about the work you’ve done on Chase Pay, particularly on the dot-com site and mobile app.
We're in the payments space over here @ {COMPANY} in {LOCATION}... maybe you've heard of us?

We build payment processing software and get to power payments for some really neat brands: Uber, Airbnb, GitHub, OpenTable and more. Here is cool link to read up on our work: {LINK}

We're building out our Front-End Dev team right now, with folks who want to live in the JavaScript world and also be full-stack oriented. Our Front-End Devs spin up their own node servers, create and maintain server side libraries, and collaborate with our back-end devs who write code in Ruby, Clojure, Java, and more.

You should check us out on The Muse - basically an inside look into our office + culture: {LINK}

6. Is your email being blasted to hundreds of people at once? (i.e. Bulk Email)

Along the same lines as using a generic subject line, by sending a mass or bulk email you are completely forgoing any effort to personalize a message. In effect, you are sending an outreach message with zero details about the candidate, and giving that candidate less incentive to read the email.

We highly recommend sending an individual message EVERY TIME you reach out to a candidate for the first time
. There are some instances where a bulk email might be beneficial, but initial outreach is not one of them!

7. Does your initial email lack a follow up plan (ideally through an automated follow-up campaign)?

It's clear that persistence pays, particularly with software developers. Every time you send an initial outreach message, you should have a plan of attack if that candidate doesn't reply to your message. 

Luckily for you, TalentBin's automated follow-up campaign makes this process incredibly simple!  

Best Practices

If you fall into any of the categories above, don't worry! The insane demand for software talent has completely changed the recruiting game. Just a few years back, sending a job description with a bland subject line was probably sufficient for a few replies with interest. In fact, this approach is still acceptable in some Canadian and European markets. But, it's only a matter of time before those markets catch up!

So, it will be essential that we all continue to improve and innovate when it comes to crafting great outreach emails. Let's take a look at some of the clear best practices we've seen drive success time and again:


personalized outreach approach is far and away the most important aspect of a great outreach email. A customized, personal outreach will all but guarantee your email stands out from the pack (and this pack has become quite large!).

Arguably, the main advantage of TalentBin is having all of a candidate's personal and professional data in one place, so let's use it! While this information is helpful when assessing someone, it is going to be imperative to use in our outreach email. 

Luckily, with 
profile template variables and dynamic personalization, this process has become almost entirely automated in TalentBin.



No one wants to spend longer than a couple minutes reading an email. If you include the entire job description in your email, you are risking them simply moving it into their trash can or spam folder. Remember this is passive talent, so simply starting a conversation and networking with these candidates can end up paying dividends. 

A short, concise message (with personalized information) will always be an great opening to jumpstart a two-way conversation. We recommend including the necessary details, but not going overboard. Include things like:
  • Company and job details
  • Web profiles (I found your profile on GitHub...)
  • Personal and professional skill data (I came across your Java repository...)
  • A link to your careers page or posting
  • Call to action (Reply to this email and we can set up a time to chat...)

Company Details

Since you are targeting passive talent on TalentBin, often just sending a candidate a short description of the job and/or company is not sufficient. A great outreach email is very similar to a sales pitch.

In order to convince a candidate to make a move, add details about why the company is a great place to
work. Try things like:
  • Cool products or features the company is working on
  • Awards, Glassdoor Reviews, Articles
  • Perks (Happy hours, catered lunches, ping-pong, etc.)
  • Location
And while this might seem like a tedious task, remember that it is a one-time action. Unlike personalizing an email for each candidate, you only need to write this content when creating your outreach template. Then, you can use it for each and every candidate!

Call to Action

The goal of your outreach email is ultimately to generate a response, so make it as easy as possible for the candidate. Be proactive, and drive the next steps:

"You up for a quick phone chat to dig in some more? Just reply to get the conversation started!"

Want More Advice?

One of our product specialists, Dave, recently held a webinar on writing a "perfect" outreach email. If you have the time, please watch the short recording for an in-depth discussion on best practices!

About the Author

Brendan Wilson is a TalentBin Product Specialist and the content manager of the TalentBin support portal.

Along with helping hundreds of recruiters as an ongoing product specialist, he has published over 50 support articles and videos that help TalentBin users troubleshoot issues, learn about new features, and provide critical advice to become successful with the tool.

Connect with Brendan on LinkedIn!

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