Outbound sourcing and engaging passive talent is an important component of any recruitment team’s overall sourcing strategy. In a competitive talent market, you may be looking for new and effective ways to design and structure outreach to find, reach, and engage prospective candidates.
With this in mind, we've gathered several best practices and templates to make your sourcing strategies and emails effective.
This information and more can also be found in our eBook, Outbound sourcing: Best practices for talent leaders which covers:
- How to create engaging email outreach content and sourcing email templates to set you up for success
- How to structure and optimize sourcing outreach campaigns using best practices
- Common mistakes and what to watch out for when sourcing
Number of campaign steps
An effective recruiting outreach campaign has three to four email steps since it shows persistence in your outreach efforts. Sending as few as one to two emails can get lost in a prospect’s inbox, while sending more than four emails can cause frustration.
By default, campaign messages send based on each step sender's configured timezone and schedule in their personal Sourcing Automation settings. We recommend configuring a campaign-level schedule to send campaign messages more consistently to prospects across time zones.
When you turn on this feature, each message in your campaign pool will send according to the campaign-level timezone and schedule, regardless of sender.
Learn more about configuring a campaign-level schedule.
For roles with fast-approaching hire dates, we recommend creating an engage campaign and running your campaign for a duration of two weeks for each prospect. This should be enough time to engage with prospects and add them to your pipeline.
Engage campaigns have the following minimum wait times:
- Step 1: 10 minutes
- Steps 2 and beyond: 1 day
We recommend creating nurture campaigns if you’re recruiting prospects from your existing talent pool or for evergreen job openings. In addition, nurture campaigns are a great tool for staying in front of prospects when you don't have active openings. Unlike engage campaigns, your efforts in nurturing prospects should occur on an ongoing basis.
Nurture campaigns have the following minimum wait times:
- Step 1: 7 days
- Steps 2 and beyond: 30 days
Sending a campaign email once per month should be sufficient to share more insight into what it's like to work at your company, specific details about the roles you're hiring for, or any other relevant information worth sharing with the prospect. We recommend adding a featured job post token to your nurture campaign steps to highlight your current featured jobs to prospects.
You can use default and custom candidate tokens in the subject line and email body of your campaign pool steps.
When building an email template or writing your campaign message from scratch in the step editor, use the Insert Token dropdown to select from a list of available default and custom candidate tokens.
Available default tokens include the following:
|Prospect's email address|
|Name||Prospect's first and last name|
|First name||Prospect's first name|
|Last name||Prospect's last name|
|Company name||Prospect's current company|
|Title||Prospect's current job title|
|Phone number||Prospect's phone number|
Next business day
Two business days
|A certain day of the week. This day is based on when the email is delivered.
Example: If you use the
|Featured posts||Your organization's featured external job posts|
Subject line best practices
Your email subject line is essential for making a great first impression with prospects.
Follow these best practices to optimize your email open rates:
|Length||Keep the subject line short and concise. It’s recommended to keep your character limit to 30 characters or less to ensure it doesn’t get cut off. This is key for mobile devices – keeping the subject line short and sweet optimizes the limited space.
If you include a call to action, such as asking to book time for a phone call, you’ll want to add it to the beginning of your subject line to emphasize the action item.
|Test different subject lines||Test different subject lines to find what works best. One way to find out which subject lines perform best is to test them out yourself.
While some subject lines may perform well for others, they may not perform well for everyone. Some email campaigns have different goals, so you might see different results depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
|Location||Mention a location to provide more context to the prospect about where the opportunity is located. This can help boost open rates, especially if the job opening is within the same area as the prospect’s location or a remote opportunity with more flexibility.|
|Avoid misleading subject lines||Having a deceptive subject line can leave a negative impression on the recipient, especially if this is your first interaction with them. We’ve seen common mistakes that include using "Re:", "Fwd:", and other misleading context in the subject line in your first email interaction with the recipient.
Instead of using these tactics in your email outreach, make sure the email body aligns with the subject line’s context to establish trust in your initial interaction with the contact.
Subject line templates
Here are a few subject lines we’ve seen success with:
Email copy best practices
The most efficient way to scale your outreach is to create email templates that recruiters on your sourcing team can use and adapt to specific jobs.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
|Length||When analyzing body copy performance, email response rates increased to 42% when the length was less than 200 words. Similarly to subject lines, it’s best to keep the body of the email short and sweet. Greenhouse recommends 125 words or less.
If an email appears lengthy at a quick glance, it can deter the contact from reading the message altogether. Instead of having long paragraphs, try divvying up the information into shorter, organized paragraphs or bullet points to make it reader-friendly.
|Avoid impersonal emails||It’s essential to always include the person’s name in the greeting, especially if you want them to pay attention to your cold email. Emails that are too vague and generic can discourage the prospect from reading the entire message and some services, such as Gmail, can flag generic emails as spam.
Additionally, not identifying a specific person in your email can be interpreted as spam and potentially lead to getting blocked.
|Sincere emails||Be direct about why you’re reaching out while ensuring the tone and message in your email are polite, professional, and to the point.
Starting off emails with “hope all is well” or “hope this finds you well” may not be the best approach for an email outreach campaign. While this can be a popular phrase, including this saying doesn’t sound very sincere – especially if you don’t know the prospect and this is your first interaction with them.
|Provide a call-to-action (CTA)||Focus on one or two (at most) CTAs in your email such as asking for a time to chat or to connect on LinkedIn. Having multiple, unclear CTAs can overwhelm the recipient and result in confusion about what you’re asking of them.|
Email copy templates
Now that you know more about the benefits and best practices of templates, here are a few types you can consider building when getting started:
The introductory email is the first touchpoint you’ll make with the prospect that also sets the tone for the rest of your multi-step outreach campaign.
- Share a quick introduction about yourself and your company. For example, “My name is [your first name] — I’m part of the [your team name (i.e. Talent, recruiting, etc.] team at [your company].”
- Mention how you found the prospect, whether that’s through LinkedIn, a referral, or any other sourcing method
- Focus on why you’re reaching out to them and highlight any key information about the open role. For example, an overview of the role at a high level and the company such as company background
Follow-up emails should provide incremental value to prospects. Use these emails to offer additional context that you think would benefit the prospect, whether it’s outlining specific responsibilities of the role or sharing a resource where they can learn more, such as the company blog or another asset.
Nurture or re-engagement email
In your follow-up emails, your goal is to keep the prospect engaged and nurtured, making it more likely they’ll consider your outreach to be genuine and targeted to them. Nurture or re-engagement emails typically share timely information about new opportunities or additional company information intended to start conversations and keep prospects interested.
You should provide relevant and enticing information, including details about the role, company benefits, and company culture.
The breakup email is the last email step in your outreach campaign where you let the prospect know that this is your last attempt at contacting them. The timing could be off for prospects to explore other opportunities so be sure to let them know they can get in touch with you in the future if anything changes.
Email signature best practices
Adding a signature is a great way to keep your emails professional while sharing your contact information so people can easily contact you. Emails without a signature can raise suspicion and diminish your credibility, especially if the recipient wants to know how to contact you or learn more about your company.
Here are best practices to keep in mind:
|Format||We recommend using a pure, text-based signature that includes your full name, location, email address, and phone number.
This is essential when sending cold emails since including several images or more complex signatures can complicate email deliverability in the future.
|Images||While adding images in your signature can add a personal touch and help with employer branding, it can complicate your email deliverability. Instead, it’s best to use a text-based signature that includes your contact information.|