Data & Automation

The ultimate guide to recruiting email templates (and how to personalize them)

November 12, 2018

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The ultimate guide to recruiting email templates (and how to personalize them)

21 min read

The time-old recruitment email and those recruiting email templates. The one thing you always come back to, no matter where you begin your search for great talent.

Email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in reaching individuals. This is a powerful statistic in talent acquisition. Receiving a text or a call from a complete stranger with a job offer can come across as intense, invasive, or spammy. This doesn’t mean that recruiting emails won’t come off as spammy. But we do know that emails are generally perceived as more formal, official, and appropriate. This alone makes it the ideal way to communicate something as important as a career move.

Email remains the lifeline of recruitment and recruiting email templates will continue to be a powerful tool. Whatever you do, you still need to send messages in the form of emails to communicate with your candidates.

As important as email is, many recruiters still struggle to produce quality recruiting emails. In fact, we often see recruiters being publicly shamed for their cringe-worthy compositions.

You’re busy. You have at least a twenty interviews to schedule in the next two days, and maybe you’re even trying to organize your first employer branding video shoot. We get it. But don’t let your recruiting emails go by the wayside and don’t neglect your recruiting email templates. We all know that first impressions last, so make your email outreach count.

Below we’ll give you a quick overview on how to write and manage your emails at every stage of the hiring process!

Our aim? To help you:

  • Sound natural and master your own tone of voice that doesn’t sound like a chatbot’s automated responses.
  • Get to the point and avoid vague statements that confuse candidates.
  • Come off as professional and prevent your emails being tossed into the spam folder.
  • Encourage replies from candidates who are interested in what you present
  • Shorten your time-to-hire with targeted emails that give candidates all the information they need to make a decision.

Already know the ropes of recruitment emails or are you just emailing pro? Check out some of our handpicked recruitment email templates to speed up your process.

If your looking for advice on emailing for a specific stage in your recruitment process, use the links below to skip to the information you need!

We’ll be covering recruiting emails in:

Sourcing

Shortlisting

Phone screening

Interviewing

Offering

Basics of drafting recruiting email templates

As mentioned previously, recruiting emails are often the bread and butter of your communication with candidates. Especially at the early recruitment stages like sourcing, you have only one chance to get it right. Take the time to get it right. Consider the following principles when drafting your hiring emails:

4 principles for a great recruitment email:

  1. Tone of voice: is it appropriate for your target candidate? You should be communicating with recent grads differently than executive candidates. Tailor your tone of voice for your audience. This can mean changing your salutation (“Hi!”/ “Hello”/ “Dear”), length of your sentences, use of slang or casual terms, and even the use of emojis.
  2. Personalization: A little personalization goes a long way. Make sure that even if you’re using templated emails that you customize them appropriately, including the candidate’s name, referencing your previous contact, or even mentioning specific skills or experience they have.
  3. Frequency: When was the last time you contacted that candidate? It’s important to keep frequency in mind. Too frequent or not frequent enough emailing can lead to a poor candidate experience. Make sure you follow up with candidates in a timely way and don’t bother them with too many emails.
  4. Conciseness: Keep your emails short and to the point while making sure you’re communicating all the necessary information. Top tip? Make sure there is a clear action point at the end of the email so the candidate knows what they need to do to contact you.

If you follow these principles when writing, you’ll have highly effective recruitment email templates in no time!

Sourcing emails

Although this is the first part of the recruitment process, it’s often takes the longest. Why?

Because this is the trickiest recruitment stage of all. You are basically asking strangers to pay attention to what you offer. And you probably don’t even know if they’re interested or not. This is the stage where you know the least about your target candidates.

It’s not a coincidence that the most recruitment email fails happen right here. Have you ever seen those awkward recruiter emails to developers? If you haven’t feel free to watch some developers read them out here:

What exactly is wrong with them? They’re all sourcing emails attracting attention the wrong way. Poor research at this stage can seriously damage your reputation as a recruiter and employer in this target audience. And this is certainly not limited to developers. 

Of course, not all sourcing emails are the same, which is why we differentiate between cold candidate outreach and referred outreach. You’ll find a few crucial differences in the approaches below.

Cold candidate outreach emails

At this stage it’s so important to be thorough with your research. Don’t just run few searches in your candidate database or conduct a quick Google search. Double (triple) check whenever you can: LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, GitHub, etc. Most candidates in the job market have online profiles on multiple social platforms.

So do your homework and get the following information before you sending out your cold recruiting emails or making them into a recruitment email template.

Required information for cold candidate outreach:

  1. The candidate’s past role that relates to the job you’re recruiting for.
  2. The candidate’s past projects that relate to the job you’re recruiting for.
  3. The positioning of the candidate’s skills or ambitions regarding the mission of the company you’re recruiting for.

Once you have this on hand (and maybe a profile open for reference), open your email and follow the following guidelines:

Guidelines for cold candidate outreach:

1- Subject line: Inform the candidate right away of your intention. Stating it as it is is the best. Do not try too hard to sound interesting. Do not jam pack information here. You just need to know if the candidate is interested in another job or not. But they also have to know exactly what the job is!

2- First paragraph: Tell them how you found them, you did your homework, and you know what they work on. If you get this right, the candidate will read on. Because it’s about them (everyone likes to be recognized!) and it’s clearly not a copy-pasted email.

3- Second paragraph: Now introduce yourself and explain why you’re contacting them. Don’t be cheesy or exaggerating here. You just need to briefly explain why working together would benefit both sides. Pro tip: position the candidate in the big picture of your company’s mission, explain what the role would mean to the hiring team. You might not know all the nitty-gritty details about the candidate at this point but aligning interests is a much better way to spark interest.

4- Call to action: You want candidates to take action after reading your recruitment email, so make sure they know what to dot! Be careful that you don’t appear pushy. Just leave suggestions, spell the next steps out as clearly as you can. Then let the candidate decide.

5- Signature: Don’t underestimate this part. If the candidate is even a little interested and wants to find out more about you or the position, make sure they know where to go! Link to the job description on your careers site. Show the candidate that the vacancy is real and you’re not a scammer. With any luck, they might take action by clicking and applying! Include a link to your LinkedIn or the details of your company (website, phone number, address). You’re a real person, make sure they can verify this for themselves.  

Outreach with referrals

Have you been offered some referrals from colleagues, candidates, or friends? Lucky you! Now you just need to make the most out of it to ensure the best results.

First, sit down with the referrers to make sure you can coordinate your message to the candidate. Second, make sure that the referrer would be happy to give favorable information in case the candidate reaches out to them for reference. Third, brief the referrer on the job you’re recruiting for.

When you are ready to write the recruiting email, make sure that it covers these four points.

Guidelines for referred candidate outreach:

1- Subject: Include the referrer’s name as early as the subject line. It might be the only thing that makes the candidate open the email!

2- First paragraph: Briefly talk about the referrer’s role in your company (or your relationship with them), their experience, and where the candidate comes in. Make it super easy for the candidate to frame the conversation. Remember to be concise here. Candidate of course can ask the referrer for all the details they want later.

3- Second paragraph: Explain what your company is doing and the job you’re recruiting for. Pay special attention to how the role will contribute to the company’s mission. Then drop a link to the job on your careers site so that the candidates can check it out if they’re interested.

4- Call to action: Similar to cold candidate outreach, you should include a call to action here. In fact, you should include a call to action in every email that you want the recipient to take action! In this email, keep it light and open.

Follow up on cold and referred outreach

There are mixed opinions about how many times you should attempt to follow up with candidates. Our suggestion: absolute maximum, twice. Anything more than that would become more spammy. If you haven’t heard from them after two follow ups, you might want to “take the hint.”

Don’t forget that even if candidates have a job, they still check their mailboxes often. If candidates are looking for a new job, they check their mailboxes even more often. Believe us: they will reply when they’re interested.

With follow up emails, remember adhere to the number one kindergarten rule: no pushing. Consider the email as a gentle reminder with legitimate interest.

Guidelines for follow up emails:

1- First paragraph: Make it clear that this is a follow up, and that you have reached out to them before. The purpose of this email would be justified immediately. If you skip this part and pretend that this is just another outreach email, the whole thing would come across as spammy.

2- Second paragraph: Reassure the candidate that you’re emailing them for a reason. Make a quick summary of your mutual benefit. Keep it short and snappy.

3- Call to action: Make sure the candidate knows where to reach you.

Shortlisting emails

So you’ve gotten a few candidates application in your portal, ATS, or inbox. Whether they’ve come from referrals or job boards, you’ll need to craft a good shortlist. Engaging your candidates and updating them on their application status can be exciting (spreading the good news is always nice!). But clarity is crucial, make sure this is reflected in your recruiting email templates.

Response to all applied candidates

The clock starts ticking here. The moment candidates apply for your job, they’re officially engaged with your recruitment process and deserve to receive the best candidate experience possible. Sadly, this is often not the case, and it starts with emailing. This email, should be a simple message to confirm your receipt of their application.

Many companies do not bother emailing candidates unless they’re qualified for an interview. A handful of other companies explicitly state in their job description that they will only contact the ones they choose to proceed with. If you are able to draft this simple response, it’ll be an easy and quick win when it comes to immediately improving the candidate experience.

Guidelines to application responses:

1- First paragraph: Thank the candidate for applying to this specific vacancy and taking interest in working for your company.

2- Second paragraph: Confirm that their application has been received. Although, this may seem like a small detail, simple confirmations have the power to drastically improve the candidate experience. It tells them that their application is in good hands.

3- Third paragraph: Manage their expectations. The worst thing is to leave the candidate in the dark not knowing what’s going to happen next. In ability to clarify what comes next for them, can also highlight poor recruitment planning.

4- Call to action: Although this is not a direct call to action, it’s a great opportunity to you show that you’re open to supporting the candidate throughout the hiring process. Job searching always comes with stress. A gesture of support here would be greatly appreciated by candidates.

Rejection after shortlisting

There’s nothing worse than being turned down from a job you wanted. But it’s even worse to be rejected by way of silence. A simple email with the right tone could help improve the candidate experience here. Unqualified candidates today can still be great candidates later. And by the time they are well qualified, you want them to come to you first. This is why it’s important to continue engaging even the candidates that have been rejected. Lay a positive foundation with these three points in your email.

Guidelines to rejection emails:

1- First paragraph: Express gratitude for their choice of your company.

2- Second paragraph + Call to action: Break the news quick and clean. Then direct the candidate’s attention to future opportunities. This tactic has two advantages: First, you foreshadow their development and where they should go to when they reach such development. Second, you treat candidates like a human being who can learn and improve, not a CV with the word “unqualified” stamped on it. This will leave a good impression and a big plus for your employer brand.

3- Feedback survey: It’s never too early to ask for feedback. By collecting and valuing a candidate’s feedback, even if they are smarting from rejection, being heard and appreciated will go a long way. Is there a better win-win?

Phone screening emails

Phone screening is often your first real-time contact with your candidates. But even if your candidates have engaged previously over email, they can drop out with one poorly worded invitation. Make sure to successfully transfer them from applied, sourced or referred statuses to phone screening with a carefully crafted email. Save these emails as your recruiting email templates for future occurrences. 

Invitation to Phone Screening

This recruiting email should be sent the moment you decide which candidates you’d like to call. Remember that good candidates won’t be available in the market for too long. So best act quickly. Get the recruiting email out quickly with these two points.

Guidelines for a phone screening invitation:

1- First paragraph: Refresh the candidate’s memory of which job they applied for and your company details. Just as you’re engaging with a pool of candidates, each candidate also engages with a pool of companies. Set the scene and jump right to the reason why you’re emailing them.

2- Second paragraph + Call to action: Give candidates a range of options to select from for a phone screening. If you use Recruitee, you can use Scheduler to quickly find a good time. Be careful of the date and time here, double-check if necessary, because you don’t want to make a mistake and delay the hiring process. Don’t forget to set a deadline for their response. This will urge the candidate to take action right away.

Rejection after Phone Screening

After making the call, you’ll find that not every candidate is the right fit. Don’t make the cowardly mistake of ignoring them and only moving on with the qualified ones. Just like the rejection email after shortlisting, you can gain easy points for your employer brand with a similarly simple  email.

Guidelines for rejection email after phone screening:

1- First paragraph: Thank them for the their time and the effort it took to apply. Let them know that they’ve not been selected to move forward at this time. Be clear about the outcome.

2- Second paragraph: The hiring policy per company may differ, but the best thing you can do at this stage for your employer brand is offering feedback. Candidates have gone deep enough in your pipeline to get a rough evaluation from you. This enhances the candidate experience greatly.

3- Feedback survey: Because you have offered to give feedback, candidates may feel more inclined to do the same for you. Reciprocation at its best!

Interviewing emails

This is the stage that can be the most exciting in the recruitment cycle. Your first in person contact with a candidate! Make sure you get the emails in this step right!

Invitation to interview

Just like the invitation to phone screening, speed is key when it comes to this recruiting email. But before you grab the keyboard, sit down with your team. Discuss and agree on at least three things:

  1. Where will the interview be?
  2. What is the agenda of the interview?
  3. Who will be involved in the interview?

Doing this will help everyone prepare better and be productive during the interview. As soon as these are clear, you’re ready to pen your best recruiting email template for this stage!

Guidelines for invitations to interview:

1- First paragraph: Briefly explain why you’re emailing the candidate.

2- Second paragraph + Call to action: You can choose a date that is the best for your team, or give a few options for the candidate to choose.

3- Third paragraph: Offer a clear agenda to keep you on track and to-the-point. This will give the candidate a good idea of what to expect and help them prepare better.

4- Fourth paragraph: Provide the location of your office, how to get there and who to ask for when they arrive. Make sure they have a contact number, just in case!

Rejection after interview emails

It may be hard for you to select which candidate to proceed with. But it’s even harder for a candidate to be rejected once they’re so close to an offer. Ideally, you should always call candidates with a negative decision at this stage. But when this is not possible, or you require written record, an rejection email may be necessary. Follow the following tips to make the most of a bad situation.

Guidelines to rejection emails after interview:

1- First paragraph: Thank them for their time and consideration of your company in their job hunt.

2- Second paragraph + Call to action: You can keep this part the same as the rejection email after phone screening. Or you can insert a brief feedback for the candidate, since they have invested quite a lot of time and effort in your company at this point. If you can, also disclose the ratio of interviewed candidates to selected candidates. There is a big difference between being one of the five interviewed and being one of the twenty interviewed.

3- Third paragraph: If you didn’t offer feedback in the second paragraph, leave the option for them to request feedback from you here.

4- Feedback survey: This is a crucial stage to ask for feedback on the candidate experience. Every candidate who stays at this stage has gone through almost the entire candidate journey. Their insights are super useful to reinforcing your employer brand. Include that feedback survey if you can!

Offer emails

If there is one recruiting email that you should send as fast as you can, it should be this one. But if you can, a call is always well received (and better for judging whether or not the candidate will accept your offer).

In practice, many companies have the tendency to “wait and see if there are better candidates” to cherry-pick. But what you also need to know is that the top candidates are signed within ten days from the moment they become “available.” The “wait and see” tactic would end up costing you great talent. So the moment you are sold on a candidate, send an email that has these three points to close them

1- First paragraph: A brief greeting and review of the interview you had with them.

2- Second paragraph: Get right to the point about the job offer. This should all be prepared beforehand so that you can attach or copy-paste right away. It’s also wise to double check everything and make sure that you’re presenting the offer the best way possible. Nine times out of ten, this is the deciding factor whether the candidate would accept the offer or not.

3- Call to action: Remind the candidate that they need to take action, when to take it, and how to take it. Also, include means of contact in case the candidate has questions about the offer. To end this email with a persuasive punch, include a line about the candidate’s future with your company.

Personalizing your recruiting email templates

There you have it! Guidelines on how to draft up recruitment emails templates for every stage of the process.

However, if you have multiple rounds of screening or interviewing, each stage will require a different template. Multiply this number of emails with the number of candidates you might get per vacancy…

That’s a lot. If you’re trying to weed out manual tasks, you definitely don’t want to waste time copy-pasting recruitment email templates. It’s also time consuming to replace all the personalized information every time you need to shoot a recruitment email. Especially with the email to confirm each candidate’s application, how much time would that cost you?

This is where automation comes in!

In Recruitee, you can set up one default email to confirm the receipt of all applications per job opening. The trick here is to use placeholders, or tokens, in the template email.

The placeholders will populate the final recruiting email with the right information. So [job_offer] will be the vacancy title and [company] will be your company’s name. Then the final email will be sent automatically to all candidates once their applications arrive in Recruitee. Each and every one of them. And you? You have spared some precious time and fulfilled the first requirement of a great candidate experience!

automate recruitment emails, recruiting email templates
You have the option to add your recruitment email templates to your email in Recruitee.

Automation is great for general messages, but how about more specific recruitment emails? For the ones following up after application confirmation, you need to personalize the content beyond the power of placeholders. Sometimes, you may want to edit the emails before sending them as well.

The good news? You can do this all in Recruitee. Have all 12 recruitment email templates we provided above open, and set them up in Recruitee’s Recruitment Email Templates. You can still use placeholders and leave empty spaces where you need to edit later.

Templates all set? It’s time to use them! Go to the candidate you want to email to in Recruitee and select the template you want to use. All the placeholders will populate the respective information immediately. All you need to do is personalizing the rest of the content, double check, and send it!

Ok, but how about sending the same rejection email to multiple candidates at once? Well, you can do that in Recruitee too. Just select all the candidates you want and choose the “Send Email” option. Then it’s the same process with choosing templates and personalizing the content.

In our own experience, this reduced our time for emailing to one-third. The time for reviewing candidates with our team has also been reduced. It’s just super handy to see the email history per candidate together with all their other details in one place during evaluation.

Ready to master your own recruitment emails?

Under the pressure of time and volume in recruitment, it’s easy to make mistakes. For recruiters, that can mean your email could wind up online trending under #recruiterfail. But you can avoid that easily by setting up the seven steps to your email success today:

  1. Draft your recruitment email templates for each stage and possibility in the recruitment processing following the guidelines above for each.
  2. Put them in a document and add your own personality to them.
  3. Store them in a system like Recruitee where you can pull them out and use them straight away.
  4. Do thorough research into each candidate before reaching out. That includes searching for their profiles everywhere, from LinkedIn to Dribble.
  5. Proofread every email at least twice before sending. Consider a text editor chrome extension like Grammarly to help you out.
  6. Send emails to yourself first before sending them to candidates. There are some formatting mistakes you may only see from a recipient’s perspective.
  7. Want candidates to reply quickly to your emails? Make sure your emails stay on top of the mailbox when candidates check it the most: early morning, after lunch, after work hours.

Adrie is a former recruiter and Recruitee's Content Marketing Manager. With a passion for hiring and tech, she is responsible for all the awesome stuff that gets published on this blog.
One Comment
  1. Jashan Joshi

    Now a days I come across many articles on AI in Recruiting, Robots & aliens and blah blah blah, no content only jargons. BUT this is one of the most apt & useful articles I read today after a long long time. Must read for all the recruiters. Thanks Hagi for this one.

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