The Right Way to Send Cold Call Recruiting Emails

The Right Way to Send Cold Call Recruiting Emails

When emailing candidates, also known as cold-call email recruiting, the message that you convey and the information you present is critical, says recruiter Christy Nichols.

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But what it ultimately comes down to is confidence: Be confident in the way you present your information, from the details of the job opening, the company of which the job is for and in how the recruiter or HR representative can work with you.

“I’ve seen recruiters actually apologize for bothering candidates, which always shocks me because why would anyone want to respond to someone who doesn’t feel they are worth the time? Be upbeat, professional and genuinely excited about what you have to say,” says Nichols, whose background includes experience in national management and executive level recruitment and direct sourcing in marketing, IT, HR, operations, implementation, life sciences, biotechnology, legal, food science, finance, and sales

Get Their Attention

The key to developing a successful cold-call recruiting email is to tell the job seeker just enough to grab their attention and pique their interest says Nichols. Brevity is important – never make that opening email too long.

“I make my emails just long enough to tell them why I am contacting them (their great profile), what I have to offer (an amazing opportunity) and why they should talk to me (fast, to the point blurb on my great company),” says Nichols.

If you provide too much information you’ve lost your ‘hook’ and your ‘fish’ will swim away, says Nichols. Take the time to write a really compelling email for each role you’re sourcing for and then use it as a template for future emails. You’ll save yourself time, and your message will appear to be customized just for that candidate that you’re emailing.

Make It Worth Their While

Keep this in mind, Nichols points out: Most people aren’t going to leave for a lateral position unless they’re really actively looking. Due to that, she highlights key things that would attract a passive candidate: Executive visibility, career growth opportunities, the ability to build a team from scratch, a virtual work environment and so on.

John Arnold, a Client Services Manage with Celarity, a marketing, creative and interactive staffing agency, adds to that, saying the key in a cold-call recruiting email is to be specific and to the point about why you are reaching out to them. State something like “I liked your project at XXXX company” or “your experience with xxxxx” and say you would like to talk about a new opportunity that seems to fit their experience. Then ask for a time to talk.

Keep It to the Point

“Never include too much information because a lot can be lost over email and people could rule themselves out of opportunities if there are a bunch job skills listed or it is too specific of a description,” says Arnold. “Getting them interested to get on the phone is key because verbal communication is the best for building a relationship and describing the roles.”

Elizabeth Laukka, an independent recruiter who specializes in placing advertising, marketing, public relations, communications and digital talent, crafts her emails based on the client she is targeting. For passive candidates, which most of her clients are, she tries to grab the prospect’s attention with her email or LinkedIn message subject line, such as:

SVP or Marketing manager
Opportunity: SVP or Marketing manager

She wants to make sure the subject grabs the readers’ attention and gets them to click to read the email. There, she focuses on the candidate’s unique individual background in the body of the email:

“Your background or qualifications look great at first blush for a role I am recruiting for________”.

“People like to hear about themselves and the word ‘you’ referring to them, usually pulls a reader in,” says Laukka. “Focus on them before discussing the job opening or how you can help them as a recruiter.”

She says one way to craft the message is to focus on the journalism pyramid: Who, what, when, why, where and so on. First, bring in the reader. Then, answer the who, what, why, where and any additional information. She then includes one or two sentences with a brief description of the role and company, without giving away too much information – but just enough where they can determine whether they’d like to continue to find out more information. Include information and language about the job or company – using adjectives or language such as the company being “a dynamic startup”, or “Fortune 100”, if fitting, she says.

“I will usually say if you are interested, let’s connect,” says Laukka. “If now is not the right timing for you and you think of other great referrals, please send them my way or I would appreciate any names as well. I list all of my contact information, including my direct email address since that is easier for some candidates’ to respond to versus emailing through LinkedIn.”

For active job seekers, Laukka uses the same tactics as above and if they have the specific background she is looking for, she will more actively try to set up a phone call or in-person interview right away because “I know they are looking and probably more open to taking the time to talk about a potential role,” says Laukka.

Get on the Phone

While some LinkedIn profiles have a direct email address or phone number under a person’s contact information, Laukka sometimes skips the email portion and calls them immediately if it’s a high-potential candidate. This may come to a surprise to many, but she finds it to be effective. And as every recruiter knows, being aggressive is important as timing is of the essence for the best candidates.

“In my experience, some Millennials, or really all generations, don’t care for the phone call and may sound surprised or miffed that someone is calling, but I push through and continue to do so as it really is still the best source of direct and quick contact,” says Laukka.

Contacting candidates – whether passive or active – is easier than ever before thanks to technology. But it still takes a well-crafted message to attract the right candidate. Take time to plan and craft your cold call recruiting email message. Learn what works best and use that to turn cold call emails into successful connections or better yet – the new hire you are searching for.

Important: Be sure to follow all of the laws and regulations applicable to the transmission of business messages.

Written by

Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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