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How to Write the Perfect Candidate Outreach Email

Basic email and InMail outreach are really the bread and butter of great recruiting and recruiters. The challenge in this day and age is that qualified candidates are being inundated with messaging. In order to stand out from the sea of recruiting sameness, your email messages must be customized. Automation is wonderful to improve efficiency and setting up response templates in your ATS or CRM is a good idea, however, candidate outreach emails are considered a high-touch task.

How to Write the Perfect Recruiting Outreach Email and LinkedIn InMail

When it comes to sourcing and cold emails or InMails on LinkedIn, a standardized template isn’t going to increase open or response rates. That’s what your competition is sending to those same job seekers. All it takes to outpace the competition for talent in a tight talent marketplace is a bit of personalization. To be clear, we’re talking about emails to candidates that have not been referred, do not have a previous relationship with your firm, and who may be passive job seekers. These are truly “cold” emails, which makes this task one of the most difficult ones you face as a recruiter.

As a staffing professional, becoming an expert on outreach to cold candidates is the secret weapon you need for filling requisitions, growing your talent database, and building new relationships with candidates. Here are some tips for writing the perfect candidate outreach email:

Be friendly, but professional.

In your first email to a potential candidate, be professional. This doesn’t mean your tone has to be brusque or cold. You can be professional and still convey a warm and friendly tone. Once you compose your email, read it out loud to make sure it sounds meaningful and inviting. You want to make a connection, include a short introduction, and focus on why you’re reaching out and what your expectations are. When reaching out to a candidate who appears to be actively seeking a new position (their LinkedIn profile is open to recruiting opportunities, for example), you can even use humor like “I know you probably receive dozens of emails like this every week, but here’s why you should respond to mine…” (And then follow up with your ask.)

Get the details right.

It sounds like a small thing but misspell a candidate’s name on your first try and your first impression won’t be a good one. If you’re reaching out to a candidate for a specific reason, such as a skill listed on their LinkedIn profile, make sure your information is up to date. Someone working in technology as a senior level developer isn’t going to be interested in your entry-level IT position just because they know CSS and HTML. The details matter and people are more likely to reply to an error-free, thoughtful message.

Get to the point.

You don’t want your potential candidate to have to email you back for details. If you’re sending an email with an ask like “I’d love to talk to you about a potential opportunity,” if you neglect to include some information about the opportunity and why you’re reaching out to this person specifically, it’s more likely to annoy than inspire a response. Candidates are more likely to respond if you include some details about what makes your position unique, what your client’s company can offer with regards to benefits and culture, and why you’re emailing them. Don’t overwhelm a potential candidate with information, just be sure to include the most relevant bits and an opportunity to schedule a time to discuss further.

Write a great subject line.

Consider that your candidate has likely received every version of “A great opportunity for you” and “let’s talk about a position you’re qualified for” email subject line. If they do open them, they likely skim and delete. A good subject line can be the difference between a candidate response and ending up in their trash folder. Ask a question, mention a detail about them, or focus on a highlight of your requisition. “Here’s why I think you’d be a great fit for [Company X]” or “you have the experience our client is looking for” are more likely to be opened and pique a candidate’s interest.

Related: Staffing Essentials: How to Increase your InMail and Email Open Rates

While the recruiting process is a numbers game, you can stack the odds in your favor by doing research, setting the right tone, and customizing your messages in creative, targeted ways.

Candidate Outreach Email Templates

Now that we’ve covered why candidate outreach emails can grow your talent pool, we’re going to share some templates for emailing passive candidates or cold candidate communication. Using templates for personalized emails can sound like an oxymoron. However, templates can serve as an inspiration point to come up with your own recruiting emails and help you avoid common email mistakes. Keep in mind that the best recruiting templates leave enough room for personalization, which makes candidates more likely to respond.

Template: Cold outreach, schedule a call/follow up

Subject line: [Company_name] is looking for a [job_title] and I think you’d be a great fit

Hi [Candidate_Name],

I am [your name], [your job_title] at [company_name]. I saw your profile on [LinkedIn, Github, etc.] and I was impressed by your experience in [add specific industry or skill].

We are currently looking for a [job_title – link to the job description on your career site] to join our client’s amazing team. I’d love to tell you a little more about why I think you’d excel in this position and answer any questions you might have. Are you available [date/time or a period of time]? If so, I’d be happy to set up a call. I’m also happy to coordinate via email or LinkedIn, if you prefer.

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]


It’s short, sweet and to the point. You’re also giving your candidate options for follow up. Having a messaging versus phone option is great for currently employed passive candidates who might want to talk more, but have trouble scheduling a call during business hours. Plus, next-gen candidates prefer to communicate via email or messaging.

Template: Cold outreach, recruiter introduction/connection

Subject line: Your experience is exactly what [Company_name] is looking for

Hi [Candidate_Name],

I am [your name], [your job_title] at [company_name]. I saw your profile on [LinkedIn, Github, etc.] and your experience in [add specific industry or skill] is right in line with what we’re looking for.

We are currently looking for candidates with [job_title, experience, skill set] for our client’s amazing team. I’d love to tell you a little more about our client’s culture and their exceptional benefits package. Are you available [date/time or a period of time]? If so, I’d be happy to set up a call. I’m also happy to coordinate via email or LinkedIn, if you prefer.

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]


Recruiter introduction emails to candidates are useful when you want to contact potential candidates about an open role for the first time. Agencies can also use them to connect with candidates before a role opens up officially. These relationship-building emails can supersize your talent funnel.

Template: Cold outreach, recruiter connection based on skill set

Subject line: I’m impressed by your work [on/in] [field/skill] and would love to know more

Hi [Candidate_Name],

I am [your name], [your job_title] at [company_name]. I saw your profile on [LinkedIn, GitHub] and was really impressed by your work [in/on] [add specific achievement that caught your eye]. Our client is looking to expand their team with a qualified [job_title – link to the job description.] I’d love to tell you more about this position and discuss how you could excel at our client’s company. They are a recognized [specific project, award, benefit].

Are you available [date/time or a period of time]? If so, I’d be happy to set up a call. I’m also happy to coordinate via email or LinkedIn, if you prefer.

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]


This template works for the top talent, the super high achievers, and the highly motivated. You’re complimenting them with specifics and asking to talk to them about how you can help them be even more successful. You’re providing a job description via link, but also highlighting a rewad or recognition the client has recently achieved, which shows an alignment with the candidate’s aspirations.

Recruiting Message Quality Matters

Remember emails, InMails, and direct message outreach no matter how great the template and message are only effective when you target your outreach. The more research and smaller candidate messaging pool with a tailored message, the better your recruiting results. Quality is king or queen when it comes to this type of focused recruitment messaging.