Tech recruiters get rejected by candidates most often — Here’s how to get more positive responses ✨

Tech recruiters have the toughest job in recruitment — by far.

Tech workers are so highly sought after, it’s hard just to get a response. Tech recruiters spend 1.9 hours longer each week doing outreach than recruiters from other industries.

But even when they get a response, tech recruiters face rejection much more often.

In our recent survey, tech recruiters told us that 43% of candidate responses were negative, vs. just 27% for other recruiters.

The top negative responses being:

  • “I’m not interested in this job”
  • “I’m not interested in any job”
  • “I don’t want to be contacted by you under any circumstances”

That means when tech recruiters get an email — ping! — every other response is likely to be a candidate complaining in some way about the job offer.


Tech workers are interested – in the right email!

Despite the difficulty in finding a candidate who matches a job requisition, 80% of tech workers surveyed said they would change jobs this year, and 73% talk to a recruiter each month.

So then, the keys to increasing the rate of positive candidate response in tech recruitment?

Here are the 4 most important ones.

  1. Talk to them about impact.

    We mentioned previously that candidates are only interested in one aspect of a job – impact. Or specifically, “the opportunity to grow the company and make their mark.”

    Getting clear on that, and focusing on it in the initial email, will start the conversation in the right direction.

    For example, instead of simply talking about the salary and job title, mentioning that the candidate could…

    • “help 10,000,000 introverts exercise without gym anxiety” 
    • “save coders across the world millions of hours of time” 

    …with their work will help them frame why the job matters.

    After all, when they change jobs, they have to tell their friends and loved ones. Make it easy for them to put an aspirational reason behind their decision.

  2. Turn rejection into referral.

    I use a method recommended by TripleByte co-founder and Y Combinator partner Harj Taggar (which I’ve dubbed “rejection referrals”) to hire many of the 60 new staff brought into ContactOut this year.

    Whenever I get a negative response from a tech candidate, I ask them if they can refer someone else.
    Just doing this one thing increased our positive response rate for product managers in the sparse Singaporean job market by 30%.

  3. Mention the compensation range in the email.

    Although compensation alone isn’t usually enough to entice the best tech workers, 79% prefer to see a compensation range in the email. 
    Truth is, “competitive pay and benefits” just won’t cut it in 2023.

    Candidates will respond more positively if you include pay transparency in the initial outreach email.

    And increasingly, laws are requiring it. With new pay transparency laws cropping up in Colorado, New York City, and Washington state, now is a good time to get ahead of this recruitment trend.

    It’s good for you, too. As I mentioned in another blog post, this also saves you and the candidate time. Why spend 30 minutes in a screening call with a candidate only to learn that you can’t afford them?

  4. Save the non-job-related personalization for the P.S.

    Personalization in recruitment outreach emails is powerful – but can come across as awkward and insincere if you quickly move from:“Hey Peter, I see we’re both mountain climbers!”


    “Now, let’s talk about this role that’s open…”

    A better way? Open the email with the reason they stood out as a candidate for the job.

    • “I see you were a top performer at…”
    • “I see you helped Company XYZ scale from…”
    • “Person XYZ recommended I reach out to you…”

    And save the non-job-related personalization for the p.s. at the bottom of the email.

    When you read an email, your eye always goes to the p.s. — so people won’t miss it.

    I get about 25% more positive responses with the personalized p.s. than without it.

    It turns any cold email warmer. I can mention that you and I both went to the same university, both volunteer for the same cause, or even just to mention how impressed I am about your startup, patent, or cool project.

Level up your tech recruitment

The full study has many more insights that will help tech recruiters perform better in 2022 — get into “the 30% club” and accelerate your own career. Here’s how:

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