How to Write Recruiting Email Subject Lines that Drive Candidate Engagement
Recruiting Email Sujbect Line

How to Write Recruiting Email Subject Lines that Drive Candidate Engagement

Keep Your Recruiting Emails from the Trash Folder with These Killer Subject Lines

Recruiting Emails. Love or hate them, as hiring professionals, we are forced to live with recruiting emails. And let’s be honest, we’ve all put serious time into perfecting email copy. For what though? Crickets…. according to studies (and our own experience) the vast majority of recruiting emails go unopened.

Subject Lines Are the Key to Attracting Candidates

So, why do most recruiting emails end up in the trash? Most often, it’s the subject line. People spend hours crafting the perfect recruiting email, only to slap on a hastily written subject line. Unfortunately, this process couldn’t be more backward. Why? That brief string of text is literally the gatekeeper between your beautifully crafted recruiting emails and the skeptical eyes of a candidate. Based on subject line alone:

  • 47% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email
  • 69% of email recipients decide whether or not an email is spam

On top of this, you must consider the competitive landscape of modern recruiting. With current technology, it has become incredibly easy to identify qualified candidates and initiate contact with them, but this is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, with the click of a few buttons, you can find the inboxes of several great candidates, but guess what? So can your competitors. As candidate inboxes become bombarded with recruiting emails, the subject line is your one opportunity to break through the noise and grab your candidate’s attention.

Personalization, Localization, and Relevancy

Did you know that emails with personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened than those without? Think about your own email inbox. The majority of spam or “junk” email sticks out like a sore thumb because it lacks any form of personalization. The subject lines may be saying something, but nothing immediately relevant to you. These messages can be easily identified and kicked to the trash bin.

Keep in mind, many recruiting emails are the equivalent of a cold call and candidates have no reason to give you the time of day. Convincing them otherwise takes a little psychology. Including elements familiar to your candidate in the subject line boosts the perceived relevancy of your email and increases the likelihood of capturing your candidate’s attention. For example, here are some personalized email subject lines the Paycor recruiting team has used with great success:

[FIRSTNAME], This job is better than a Fri PM at [inset popular bar where prospect went to college]

Did you dream about this job at [insert name of college or university]?

[FIRSTNAME], Picture yourself creating [insert a work product from their Linkedin profile here] at Paycor

Of course, personalization requires research. Skimming your candidate’s social profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) is a great starting point. This will allow you to glean insights about what their interests are (both professionally and personally) and see what they are talking about. Pull out the most personal tidbits and work them into your subject line. Of course, you don’t want to go too far, so use some common sense. For example, if your candidate is an avid biker, you could add a biking theme to the subject line of your recruiting emails. Your email will hit close to home and is guaranteed to draw some interest. Furthermore, it shows that you actually care, which is half the battle.

Get to the Point

Again, remember you are already on borrowed time and candidates will only spend a second or two scanning your subject line. You must get to the point as quickly as possible. Although there are some contrasting reports, the majority of studies suggest keeping subject lines under 50 characters. To give you some perspective: This sentence is 36 characters long.

When determining the length of your subject lines, also consider display on smartphones. Although email may seem like a desktop activity, research shows that 68% of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Too long of a subject line and you could end up with an email that looks like “Hey Candidate X I’d really like to talk to you about this grea…” In portrait view, smartphones only display between 35-38 characters.

Be Authentic

This point ties back to personalization. Being a complete stranger, the last thing that you want to do is break trust by using cheap tricks to draw a click. Avoid spammy words like “urgent,” “re:,” and “reminder” that have nothing to do with the essence of your message. Don’t be afraid to assume a conversational tone. After all, you are trying to build a relationship here.

[FIRSTNAME], Let’s Grab Coffee Sometime!

And don’t be afraid to have a little fun.

[FIRSTNAME], I’m Building an Avengers Marketing Team

Get the Inside Scoop

As hiring professionals, selling candidates on a given role is what we do. However, it can be hard to know what the top selling points are for every position at your organization. When a new req opens that you may be unfamiliar with, reach out to coworkers who have a better understanding of the position. Ask what subject lines would catch their eye and what communication would drive engagement from them.

For example, let’s say that you are hiring for a technician. Chances are, you won’t know much about their day-to-day duties and responsibilities. By speaking with your colleagues who have more knowledge of this, you can get the inside scoop for attention-grabbing subject lines.

Test, Analyze, Adjust, Repeat

Once you are ready to let your killer subject lines loose on candidates, your work is not done! The beauty of subject lines is that they are more of an art than an exact science. There is no “right answer,” but through constant iterations of testing, analyzing, and adjusting, you can form an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Paycor Candidate Texting

Think of the recruiting process as a conversation, often one that starts with a compelling subject line. Once you find that perfect candidate, it’s up to you to keep the conversation going. Paycor Recruiting’s Candidate Texting helps you do just that. Candidate Texting enables you to engage with candidates individually via a texting thread within Paycor Recruiting, increasing candidate engagement and communication. Check out Paycor Recruiting to see how we can help you have successful conversations with candidates.


recruitment software

More to Discover

Paycor’s streamlined HR and Payroll solutions coupled with a flexible Recruiting platform impressed Taste Buds Management

Paycor’s streamlined HR and Payroll solutions coupled with a flexible Recruiting platform impressed Taste Buds Management

Pandemic Response Paycor’s immediate product updates in response to new coronavirus legislation helped Michelle stay compliant and keep track of employees. “From a technical standpoint, being able to put someone on furlough in the system was great,” she said. “You created custom codes – that makes a big difference. Before it was either you’re hired or you’re not. Now, I’ll be able to sort these specific dates and it will help me make more informed decisions.” “We didn’t know how to handle COVID-19 and Paycor very quickly figured it out. As a partner, you definitely stood out as an authority—you navigated the messiness and gave us direction. Whatever you’re doing to keep your staff focused on the client, it’s working. You have a winning...

Virtual Interviews: Best Practices for Remote Recruiting

Virtual Interviews: Best Practices for Remote Recruiting

Remote recruiting makes everyone a little nervous, at least at first. Conducting interviews by video conference just doesn’t sound appealing—can you really read someone’s body language on video? What if the internet connection is bad? All these obstacles and more might make you long for the days when in-person interviews were the norm. But don’t give up on remote recruiting. Here’s how to make it better. The Benefit of Virtual Interviews Remote recruiting has advantages. It’s cost-effective, saves time and broadens your pool of candidates to include people who live out of state or even out of the country. If you commit to remote hiring, there’s no reason for it to be any less effective than in-person interviews. Before the Remote...

How to Achieve Diversity in the Workplace

How to Achieve Diversity in the Workplace

Cultural Diversity Organizational Diversity Diversity in Recruiting Elevate Onboarding Defining Diversity and Why It Matters Having tough conversations about diversity and working towards a more inclusive environment is a part of any successful business. But what, exactly, is diversity? We define diversity as understanding, accepting, and valuing differences in races, ethnicities, genders, ages and more. Diversity can also include recognizing and respecting differences in education, skill sets, abilities and experiences. In order to address diversity in the workplace, you have to be intentional. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and accept that achieving diversity isn’t easy. But it will be worth it in the long run—a...

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Take Our HR Benchmarking Quizzes

Paycor's research shows that 75% of high-functioning HR teams spend their time on mastering key pillars of HR excellence. Want to know how your team stacks up against others? Take our benchmarking quizzes to find out and get customized action plans based on your results. Recruiting Benchmark Quiz Benefits Benchmark Quiz Labor Costs Benchmark Quiz People Management Benchmark Quiz Compliance Benchmark Quiz