ContactOut’s Definitive Guide to Sending the First Email to Candidates

📌 What is this lesson about?

This guide is all about the art and science of sending the first outreach email to potential candidates. It's the initial step in the recruitment process, and often the first impression a candidate has of your company.

📌 What will you learn by the end of this guide?

  • The Significance of the First Email: Understand why this initial outreach is crucial in the recruitment process.
  • Crafting Techniques: Learn the art of creating compelling subject lines, personalizing content, and striking the right tone.
  • Engagement Strategies: Discover how to maintain optimal email length and add emotional elements to connect with candidates.
  • Actionable Steps: Grasp the importance of clear CTAs and the art of following up effectively.
  • Feedback and Iteration: Recognize the value of continuous learning, seeking feedback, and adapting your approach for better results.

📌 Why is it important?

The first email sets the tone for the entire recruitment process. It's your chance to grab a candidate's attention, make a positive impression, and pave the way for a successful hiring journey.

🚀 Here’s the step by step to do it:

1. Understand Your Candidate:

  • Research: Dive deep into the candidate's LinkedIn profile, personal blogs, or any published works.
  • Identify Achievements: Highlight any awards, recognitions, or notable projects they've been a part of.
  • Understand Their Career Path: Recognize the progression in their roles and any skills they've acquired over time.

2. Craft a Compelling Subject Line:

  • Be Direct: Clearly state the purpose, e.g., "Opportunity as a Data Scientist at XYZ Corp."
  • Personal Touch: Use their name or reference a recent achievement.
  • Test Variations: A/B test different subject lines to see which ones get the best open rates.

3. Personalize the Email:

  • Tailored Introduction: Mention how you came across their profile or who referred them.
  • Specific Praise: Reference particular projects or roles they've had that caught your attention.
  • Connect to the Role: Explain why their experience makes them a perfect fit for the role you're offering.
  • Examples:

❌ Generic email:

Dear Candidate,

We have an exciting role that we believe aligns with your background. We'd love to discuss it further with you.

✅ Personalized email:

Hello Alex,

Your work on the ABC project at XYZ Company truly stood out to us. We have a role that seems like a perfect match for your expertise. Let's chat?

4. Maintain the Right Length:

  • Be Concise: Respect their time. Get to the point while being engaging.
  • Break It Up: Use bullet points or short paragraphs for easy reading.
  • Highlight Key Points: Use bold or italics for essential details like the role name or interview date.

5. Strike the Right Tone:

  • Match the Industry: A tech startup might appreciate a more casual tone, while a law firm might expect formality.
  • Be Genuine: Authenticity goes a long way. Avoid sounding robotic or overly templated.
  • Positivity Always: Ensure your email radiates a positive and inviting energy.
  • Examples:


Dear Mr. Smith,

We are pleased to extend an invitation for you to discuss a potential role at ABC Corp. Your expertise aligns with our requirements.


Hey Alex,

Came across your profile and thought you'd be a great fit for a role we have. Fancy a chat?

Overly casual:

Yo Alex!

Wanna job? We got a cool one here!

6. Add an Emotional Element:

  • Empathize: Address the current job market scenario or any industry-specific challenges.
  • Inspire: Share success stories of employees who joined in similar roles.
  • Create a Vision: Briefly paint a picture of what their future at the company could look like.

7. Include a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA):

  • Direct Steps: Clearly state what you want them to do next, whether it's replying to the email, filling out a form, or scheduling a call.
  • Provide Options: Give them a choice, like different time slots for a potential interview.
  • Urgency Helps: A line like "We're finalizing our interview slots this week" can prompt quicker responses.
  • Example:

Subject: Your Next Adventure Awaits!


Hello Alex,

We're thrilled about the prospect of you joining our team at ABC Corp. Your skills in data analysis are just what we need!

📅 [Schedule a Call Now]

Or, if you prefer, reply to this email with times that work for you next week.

Eagerly awaiting your response,


8. Follow Up:

  • Timing: If you don’t get a response, send a follow-up email within a week.
  • Acknowledge the Previous Email: Mention your previous email and reiterate your interest.
  • Stay Persistent, Not Pushy: It's okay to send 2-3 follow-ups, but know when to step back.

📝 Here’s an example of it:

Subject: Love your experience at [PASTCOMPANY]


Hello [NAME],

Your experience and promotions at [RECIPIENT'S COMPANY] caught my eye. My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m the [YOUR TITLE] at [YOUR COMPANY]. I'm curious if you'd be open to exploring new opportunities outside of your current role.

We're looking for a [JOB TITLE] to join our [TEAM]. In this role, you'll be responsible for [BRIEF OVERVIEW OF JOB].

If you’re interested in learning more, please let us know a few times that could work for an introductory call with [NAME] on our team.



🔜 Next steps:

1. Practice Makes Perfect:

  • Draft Variations: Create multiple versions of your email to cater to different candidate profiles.
  • Seek Feedback: Run them by colleagues or even friends outside the industry for a fresh perspective.

2. Stay Updated:

  • Industry Trends: Recruitment strategies evolve. Attend webinars, workshops, or conferences to stay in the loop.
  • Feedback Loop: After successful hires, ask new employees for feedback on the recruitment process, including the initial email.

3. Leverage Technology:

  • Use Email Tracking Tools: Tools like HubSpot or Mixmax can help you track email open rates and responses.
  • Automate Where Possible: Use platforms that can help automate follow-ups or schedule interviews.

4. Diversify Your Outreach:

  • Beyond Email: Consider other platforms like LinkedIn InMails or even direct messages on platforms relevant to the industry, like Behance for designers or GitHub for developers.
  • Networking: Attend industry events or webinars to meet potential candidates in a less formal setting.

5. Continuous Learning:

  • Analyze Responses: Keep track of which emails get the most positive responses and iterate based on that.
  • Stay Adaptable: Be ready to pivot your approach based on the feedback and results you're seeing.

📚 Further resources:

Candidate Outreach Best Practices Using the PEACH Method

Recruiting Outreach Tips by Lever

Cold Recruiting Email Templates by Recruiterflow

Cold Recruiting Email Templates by Findem

Recruitment Outreach Email Templates by Snaphunt

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