By GAPS  •  June 5, 2018

All seasoned recruiters are very familiar with the cold call, but these days the preferred method of first contact of most has transitioned to the (electronically) written word. Recruiters are constantly reaching out to new candidates via email and other platforms like LinkedIn’s InMail messaging. The question is: Are you hearing back?

Saying the right thing in these messages has become more important than ever. In an introductory message where a lack of response is all too common, it’s critical to be as positive and concise as possible. Give yourself an edge over the competition and hook the candidates you really want with these tips to maximize your mail!

Obviously, the subject line is the first piece of the message that your target will see, so you’ve got to make it good! You need to be careful to pique your recipient’s interest immediately, or they may not even open the message at all.

Avoid subject lines which are:

... cliché,

You may be happy at Google, but...

… long,

I’m looking for a talented copywriter with a background in social media for a position at a great company!

… boring,

Customer Service Opportunity at LinkedIn

… or creepy.

I couldn’t reach you by phone or email, so I’m hoping you check your InMail messages.

Try to create a personal connection and unique point of interest right off the bat. A good subject line should either refer to a personal connection between the candidate and yourself or, alternatively, present a specific opportunity or call-to-action which would interest this person in particular. Avoid making yourself (or your client) look bland, desperate or unappealing.

Instead, craft a subject line that:

… references a shared connection,

Natalie Turner suggested I reach out!

… mentions a common interest or experience,

Greetings from a fellow Francophone!

… shows that you’ve actually looked into them,

Want to get back into UX design?

… or pays them a compliment, which never hurts!

Your background is impressive!

If you’ve intrigued a candidate enough to open a message, you’ve already won half of the battle. Spend a little time doing your homework on the candidate and try to find some common ground or at least figure out what you can do to interest them in your message.

Now, for the message itself. Think of an introductory message as a cover letter of sorts. You should try to show a bit of your personality, a lot of interest in the candidate and a reason why you may work well together. But remember: make it short and sweet.


  • Forget the candidate’s name or use the wrong one. If you are sending out multiple messages at once, be careful to use the candidate’s name in the greeting. You should always double-check all of your messages to avoid saying “Hi Max!” or “Dear INSERT NAME,” if the candidate’s name is Caroline. This shows a lack of genuine interest and care and is often cause enough alone to justify no response.
  • Send form letters in general. If time and available information allow, strive to write a personal message to each candidate you contact. It’s usually obvious that a message has gone out to multiple recipients if that is in fact the case. Use a candidate’s profile and personal history to craft a message that will excite them in particular.
  • Include typos or mistakes. Always proofread your messages for spelling mistakes, punctuation issues and grammatical errors. This one is obvious, but some recruiters are still guilty of this.
  • Drone on. LinkedIn has reported that InMail messages in excess of 200 words receive significantly fewer responses than average, while those of under 100 words garner the highest proportion of answers. Unnecessarily long messages are never a good idea, especially if the hook is hidden deep within countless less important details.

Example of a badly written message:

Subject: Did you miss my last message?

Hello ,

My name is John Doe, and I’m an executive recruiter.

I am currently on the look out to fill a sales position for an exciting client of mine! I’m following up because we’re trying to fill a sales role ASAP.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the position or are interested in the role yourself. I would really appreciate it if you would share this great oportunity with your network, and I’m sure they would thank you to!

If you are interested in being considered for this position, please send me a copy of your résumé along with a few time slots during which you’d be available for a half-hour phone call.

My was considered a top ten employer by HR Magazine in 2017. They offer competitive salaries, great benefit packages, summer half-Fridays and child-/pet-care during the workday.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon. I hope you have a great weekend!

John Doe

John took a lot of wrong turns. The subject line is a bit desperate and even slightly aggressive. In general, it’s too long and overly detailed about all the wrong things. Another mistake was asking the candidate to share this position with their network. This makes him appear not only uninterested in this candidate himself but also asking the recipient to do his job for him. And, we can’t forget the typos!

Example of a well written message:

Subject: What’s your next step after graduation?

Dear Holly,

I came across your profile while searching for candidates and would love to get in touch with you about my current opportunities.

I see you’re about to receive your MBA from NYU. Congrats from a fellow Stern grad! I’m wondering if you have anything in mind yet after you graduate?

I have a client with an opportunity that I think might interest you, given your background. A top digital media company in New York is looking for a new director of business development. I think your experiences at Google and Facebook could make you a great fit.

If you’d be interested to learn more, send me a copy of your resume and we’ll schedule a time to talk. Have a nice day!


When writing a message, you should try to include: allusions to a candidate’s history, a brief summary of the highlights of the position, and ask for only the most necessary information to take the next step.

In the first message between you and a potential candidate, keep in mind that the stakes are higher! Each word you write is important and should deliver your message as quickly and pleasantly as possible. Make it easy for your candidate to respond, and they will!


(888) 839-GAPS
2451 Cumberland Parkway
Suite 3181
Atlanta, GA 30339



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