With unemployment at a record low, today’s job candidates have options. Despite your best recruiting efforts, getting a candidate in the door doesn’t guarantee they’ll accept an offer. And more often than not, your client’s ideal candidate is also the top choice at another company. So in this race for top talent, how can staffing firms capture candidates’ attention and stand out from the competition?
 
It all starts with an email.
 
Your client’s ideal candidate can’t come in for an interview, or accept a job offer, if they don’t have a conversation with you first. On a daily basis, top candidates are inundated with opportunities and inquiries from recruiters. After assessing and scrolling through a long list of emails, a candidate may only choose to respond to one or two. Wouldn’t you love it if the email they read and responded to was yours?
 
Engaging with your client’s ideal candidate means capturing their attention with your very first communication. Here are three ways to personalize your emails so they stand out from the crowd.

#1: Do your research

You’ve narrowed your search and found an ideal candidate for the role. But before you write your email, think about what you’re going to say. A standard, bulk email isn’t going to win them over.
 
Using public information from Google and social media, you can learn more about a candidate than what’s on their resume. With these insights, you can see what you have in common and then strike up a conversation. For example, imagine you discovered Joe, a candidate who’d be a perfect fit for your open role. After digging around a bit you learn that Joe is a huge Houston Astros fan. You can leverage this information to craft a personalized email around his interest and the upcoming game next week.
 
When researching candidates, it’s essential to use your best judgment. Keep it light and casual — don’t dive deeper than what’s on the surface. Put yourself in Joe’s shoes for a minute. You’d feel comfortable with chatting back and forth about the Astros, but if someone uncovered that your sister’s son recently graduated from their alma mater, that’s too personal and private.

#2: Craft and personalize your message

How much personalization is needed to capture your candidate’s attention?
 
It’s obvious to candidates when they receive a bulk email. The role doesn’t match their experience, it isn’t located anywhere close to where they live, it doesn’t say why they’d be a good fit for the role, and worst of all, it doesn’t even have their name.
 
A good personalized email should contain these essential pieces:

  • An attention-grabbing subject line. Now that you know your candidate, Joe, loves the Houston Astros, open with an intriguing subject line like, “Congrats on last night’s Astros win.”
    • Mention something specific about why they’d be a good fit for the role. For example, go on to say, “Beyond your team’s win last night, I’m impressed with your career progression, specifically in regards to your software engineering experience.”
      • Share the details of the position and offer an opportunity to connect. Here’s what you might say: “My client is looking for talented software engineers like you. If you have time to chat in the next few days, I’d welcome the opportunity to tell you a bit more about the position and the organization.”
        • Have a clear call to action. Communicate next steps by saying, “Do you have ten minutes to chat this week?” or “Are you free this week to meet for coffee?”
        • #3: Stay in touch

          Sending personalized emails is only the start of building your connection with candidates. You’ll want to foster and grow your relationship as they move through the hiring journey. Here are a few tactics for providing a first-class candidate experience:

          • Be transparent. The number-one point of frustration for job seekers is waiting to hear back about their applications. Share expectations and a clear timeline with candidates ahead of time and keep them looped in to any changes that may arise.
          • Offer interview tips. Set candidates up for success in their upcoming interviews with interview prep communication. Send candidates a quick email to share who they’re meeting with, what happens on site and a sample list of questions to expect.
            • Follow up. Whether your candidate is offered the job or not, follow up. Every candidate deserves the respect of knowing whether they are moving forward in the process or not. Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s “no black hole” philosophy reflects this candidate-first mind-set, where everybody who applies for a job — regardless of whether they’re qualified or not — will hear back from an actual recruiter. Telling someone they’re not a good fit isn’t easy, but they’ll have a lot more respect for you and your company if you are transparent and honest about next steps.
            • Conclusion

              Making connections in today’s job market may not be easy, but it’s vital to finding your clients their ideal candidates. In fact, 96% of employers agree that building relationships is an essential part of being a recruiter.
               
              Standing out from the competition means exploring new outside-the-box tactics and, in this case, putting a personalized touch on your outreach campaigns and building a relationship from your very first email.

              Even after sourcing, researching the candidate and sending your email, you may find the role isn’t a match. That’s okay! Even if the role didn’t work out this time, there may be future opportunities that are a better fit. Building a relationship with the candidate keeps them in mind for future opportunities. Plus, a positive recruiting experience may change their mind the next time around.