Recruiting comes with unique challenges. On the surface, it may look clear: Just find someone who can fulfill the requirements of your open role. But job seekers can be a complicated and unpredictable species, and the right fit is often more elusive than it sounds. 

As a recruiter, you know that you do much more than simply fill roles. You develop a deep, almost unconscious ability to understand candidates. This soft skill helps you identify high-quality prospects, but it’s only half of the equation. 

Your messaging and recruiting outreach can make the difference in whether a candidate considers your role or keeps looking. While you may know what makes someone a good fit, many recruiters struggle to express this in a way that resonates. The more tactical side of the equation involves capturing job seekers’ attention through recruiting outreach and convincing them to join your team. 

Based on original research including an in-depth analysis of job seeker behavior on Indeed Resume, which has over 175 million resumes from job seekers worldwide, this feature article will help you master the art of effective recruiting outreach and develop your existing knowledge of job seekers into a sixth sense for getting top talent to come on board.

Content includes:

  • Messaging and recruiting outreach best practices
  • Data-driven insights into candidate behavior
  • Sample templates for outreach emails
  • Checklist for effective outreach messaging


Personalize your messages for successful outreach

Congratulations — you’ve found the perfect candidate for one of your open roles. Maybe you even found it using Indeed Resume, which can be an invaluable tool for boosting your messaging power: it gives you automated follow-ups to candidates, message templates and the ability to communicate with candidates via Indeed’s user-friendly platform.

But once you find your dream candidate, it’s time to turn your focus to messaging. This means not only convincing the candidate that they’re the right fit for your role, but also that the job and company are the right fit for them.

Effective outreach combines your deep understanding of job-seeker behavior, preferences and expectations with messaging techniques that work. The best outreach is strong, yet subtle, telling prospects why you need them while enticing them with opportunities and incentives that match what they’re looking for.

With all the emails and messages most people receive, recruiters might assume that potential candidates don’t want to hear from them. But a 2019 survey of job seekers by Indeed found the opposite: Most job seekers are happy, and even flattered, to be contacted for open roles that are a potential fit. This puts you in a strong position, but you must use it wisely.

Personalization is key to any outreach you do as a recruiter. This is how you show prospects that you’ve done your homework and understand who they are, both as a person and as a professional. And it’s how you convince them of what you already know: that they are the perfect fit for this role.


Messaging best practices for recruiters

Strong messaging is not only personal, but also strikes a balance between giving the reader enough information to want to learn more and overwhelming them with details. This can get tricky, so we’ve broken down some best practices for communicating what you already know — that this candidate is a perfect fit — in a way that resonates with your reader.

1. Send individual emails
Mass email blasts can be tempting, but everyone knows a form letter when they see one. Instead, send an individual email to each prospect you want to contact. This shows that you value them as a person, and not just as one of many potential hires, laying the foundation for an ongoing relationship.

2. Show them why you chose them
Don’t assume it’s clear from the job title or your decision to contact them — do your homework and show the candidate why their background makes them a great fit. Your job should match the person’s skills, experience and career trajectory, and you should be able to articulate clearly that you understand this, tying specifics about their background and abilities with your role and the company. You may want to mention that you’ve seen other people with similar experience excel in similar positions.

3. Explain the opportunity
However, don’t go overboard with personalization and skimp on details about the job itself. When deciding whether to pursue an opportunity, candidates focus on two key components: how well the description fits their experience and goals and whether it meets their needs in terms of compensation, perks and location. Make sure to include enough of these details to pique their interest — without, say, going into a lengthy explanation of the benefits package or bonus plan. And keep in mind that 57% of candidates expect at least a 10-20% increase in compensation from their current role when a recruiter contacts them about a new opportunity.

4. Highlight growth potential
Outreach is most effective when you can offer opportunities to advance professionally, since almost all job seekers are eager to get ahead. Make sure to identify and emphasize enticing aspects such as better perks, a new title or a move to a more high-profile company. Remember, it’s not all about compensation; show the candidate how this role could provide a path to a brighter future.

5. Get hyper-personal
If possible, include a relevant mention of an interest, hobby or other personalized detail; in our digital age, it’s easy to get this information without being creepy. The candidate’s resume, online profile or social media activity can provide a great source. For example, if their Twitter bio lists a favorite hobby that others in your workplace happen to share or the candidate went to the same school as their potential boss, then mention it in your email. This is particularly important when reaching out to high skill candidates who may be inundated with messages. These small details can go a long way toward helping you stand out, and to build rapport.

6. Be concise
Modern attention spans are short, so keep things brief. Capture the reader’s interest as early as possible to keep them from deleting your message. Keep your subject line fewer than 40 characters so it’s short enough to display on most cell phones. In the email body, aim for 100 words, but be mindful of your audience. As a general rule, employers using Indeed Resume have the best luck with emails of 50 words or fewer. This may vary on the skill level of your target candidate , however — Indeed sourcers looking to recruit high skill talent have reported success with around 120 words of hyper-personalized content.

You want to make every word count, so minimize stop words like “you,” “your,” “and” and “would” that are commonly used in speech but take up precious space in a message. Remember, your goal is to wow the candidate and continue the conversation — and when it comes to initial outreach, less is more.

7. Be professional, but listen to the data
Whether you’re a third-party recruiter or an internal employee of the company you’re sourcing for, clearly communicate where you work and why you’re reaching out. Show the prospect you’re a person, too, and not just a bot.

It might seem like common sense to start your message with a greeting, since “Dear _____” and “Hi _____” are professional norms in correspondence. However, this is where Indeed’s data comes in: our research shows that these generic greetings actually work against recruiters, reducing the positive response rate by nearly 10 percent.

You’ll have better luck starting your outreach with a greeting that stands out from the pack: “Good morning,” “Greetings” or even “Howdy” are all good options to differentiate your style, while still being polite. Strike the right tone, using professional language; be personable, but avoid slang, abbreviations and overly casual communication. Finally, always give your message a final edit for typos, misspellings or grammatical errors before hitting “send.”

8. Know what to leave out
Remember: less is more when it comes to outreach, which means it’s important to know what information to omit. Indeed Resume research shows that recruiters actually reduce candidate responses by nearly seven percent when they include a phone number and over one percent when they add an external email, since candidates typically use the built-in Indeed email relay.4

Similarly, there’s no need to include salary information in the message. Candidates can find this information down the road, such as in the job description, but there’s a reason only 3% of messaging includes salary range5 — it’s simply not needed here, plus you don’t want to duplicate information that’s available in the job description.

As a general rule, be mindful that unnecessary information can work against you and your messaging, so when in doubt leave it out.

9. Always follow up
We all lose things in our inboxes, and candidates are no exception. After the initial email, be sure to send follow-up messages; we recommend sending reminders two, four and seven days after your first contact, then checking in with a final email after one month has passed.

Indeed Resume automatically recommends follow-ups at the appropriate intervals, saving you that added task. Staggering messages according to this timeline will improve your visibility without clogging the candidate’s inbox.

When it comes to metrics such as the best time or day to contact potential candidates, Indeed’s internal research finds that people aren’t more or less likely to respond at certain times. Similarly, you won’t always know if your prospects are actively looking for work — but our data shows that almost everyone will consider a new role if it seems like a good fit. The bottom line? If you’ve found someone you want, reaching out is always worth a shot.

Still want more?

Follow these insider tips from Indeed’s top sourcers and watch your positive response rate rise to new levels:

+ Make sure your message is flattering to the candidate

+ Show that you want to learn more about the candidate

+ Make yourself available to the candidate

+ Check that your message is fluid and logical

+ Give candidates a clear call to action

Effective messages spell stronger outreach for recruiters

As a recruiter, your job is to combine your deep understanding of job seekers with proven strategies for successful hiring. Tools like Indeed Resume give you access to more candidates than you can find otherwise, but what comes next? By personalizing your messages, you simultaneously show candidates why an opportunity is right for them professionally and why they’re the best fit for the role. Effective messages are a crucial part of your toolkit — and the formula is easier than many people think. Indeed’s proven strategies give you the tools you need to improve recruiting for everyone, and get closer to that perfect hire.