Effective email communication with candidates helps you build a strong brand, both as an employer and as a recruiter. From reaching out to passive candidates, to rejecting candidates with grace, our guide on recruiting email manners will help improve your communication with candidates.

Here are some frequently asked questions about how to email candidates:

Who should email a passive candidate about an open position: a recruiter or a hiring manager?

Both options work, as long as the email is relevant and personalized.

A recruiting email from a hiring manager or CEO may come as a pleasant surprise to potential candidates who are used to communicating with recruiters. Alternatively, recruiters are more experienced with writing emails that capture recipients’ attention.

No matter who hits “send,” recruiters and hiring managers should collaborate when sending cold emails to passive candidates. Hiring managers know whether a potential candidate’s background fits the role. Recruiters know how to pitch the company and role to candidates, without sounding too technical or too generic. They’ll also know to include a GDPR-compliant privacy notice when they contact EU candidates for the first time.

Who should email a referred candidate for an open position: a recruiter or a hiring manager?

Both options work, as long as the email is transparent, carefully crafted and mentions the name of the person who made the referral.

Choose what works best for your company, based on your hiring processes and referral policy. It’s best for the recruiter to send emails to referred candidates, so they can provide additional job-related information to pique candidates’ interest. If the referred candidate already knows about the open role and the hiring team identifies the individual as qualified, the hiring manager can speed up the process and directly schedule an interview by email.

How quickly should recruiters respond to candidate inquiries via email?

As a general rule, recruiters should try to reduce waiting time to a minimum, while making sure all replies are accurate. But, recruiters should prioritize each email differently, depending on their type. For example:

How many passive candidates should I email for a hard-to-fill role?

When sourcing passive candidates for hard-to-fill roles, focus on quality, not quantity. Instead of sending generic emails en masse, send two or three cold, personalized emails to qualified potential candidates who are likely to be interested in your job.

For hard-to-fill roles, source potential candidates on social media, craft targeted Boolean strings and dig deeper into portfolio sites and resume databases. You could also ask for referrals from your network and current employees. Once you’ve found a good fit, invest the time to write a personalized message.

Related: Sourcing on Google: Boolean search for recruiters

Track your time-to-fill rate for each position, so that you know the optimal number of candidates you should contact in the future for this type of role.

What are some tips for emailing candidates?

Here’s how to improve your emails to candidates, from first time cold emails to follow ups:

How can I improve my email response rate?

When crafting your email, make sure you follow basic business-writing rules. Candidates are more likely to respond to a recruiting email if the message:

Candidates are more likely to open and reply to emails from people they already know. So, if you’ve previously met (for example, if they’re past candidates, if you’ve interacted with them through social media or if you share a mutual connection), mention this in your email.

How can I measure the success of my recruiting emails?

Recruiting email metrics will help you identify areas to improve your communication with candidates. Here are the most important rates you should track:

Email tools help you monitor these metrics and test whether your messages are effective.

Do personalized emails to candidates have more impact?

Yes. Candidates skim generic cold emails that don’t explain why this “amazing job opportunity” might interest them. Personalization will help your messages stand out. Potential candidates want to know:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How does this position align with my background?
  • Why does this recruiter have an interest in hiring me?
  • Why should I consider a call or meeting with this recruiter?

Template emails make recruiting more efficient, but can turn off potential hires, if they’re not customized. Take the time to write a thoughtful message that candidates will appreciate and remember.

What are some ways to personalize recruiting emails?

Learn about the person you are trying to recruit and be genuine. There are many ways to do this, both online and offline. Here are a few tips:

Avoid getting too personal in your communication, though. Only use job-related information you found online. You want to grab candidates’ attention and show them that you invested time to learn about them, but in a professional way.

For EU candidates, make sure to follow guidelines of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when collecting personal data on candidates.

What should I include in a phone interview invitation email?

Phone interviews are often part of initial candidate screening phases. Here’s what to cover in a phone interview invitation email to candidates:

Follow a similar outline if you’re inviting candidates to a Skype or video interview. Make sure you have candidates’ phone numbers and/or Skype account details before the interview.

Related: Structured interview questions: Tips and examples for hiring

What should I include in an interview email?

Here’s what you should include in your interview invitation email:

Make sure your email signature includes your contact details for candidates to easily reach out.

What should I include in a job offer email?

A job offer email (or letter) should be both informative and engaging. Here’s what you should include in your emails to increase job offer acceptance rates:

A job offer email template that’s easy to customize for every position will save you time. If the candidate has already accepted your offer (e.g. over the phone), you can tweak your email and make it more of a welcome message.

What should I include in a candidate rejection email?

A rejection email lets candidates know they won’t advance in the hiring process. It should also aim to end the hiring process on a positive note. Here’s what you should include in a candidate rejection email:

When should I call a candidate instead of sending a rejection letter or email?

No matter how you choose to reject a candidate, never leave them guessing. The way a company rejects candidates can make or break its reputation.

Choose to reject candidates by phone, instead of email, when:

Related: Post-interview rejection letter sample

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