This week’s question is from my client, Jim. Jim has given me two examples of candidate emails he uses to get in touch with a candidate. 

He says:  

I have been using these methods and the first one with a pretty good success rate. The second one, not so much. Suggestions? What would you use as a third method?  

So the first message you sent is:  

Subject: Let’s connect. 

I have no idea what is going on in your career. I wanted to see if you were open to hearing about an opportunity potentially stronger than your current situation.

You can tell he’s been an existing client. I love that line because it works. It is engaging enough to get a candidate on the phone and excited to hear more.

The second email:  

Subject: Just curious 

Hey Candidate,  

You have had a great career. Is it worth a 15-minute call to find out about an opportunity with the world market leader we are engaged with?  

What I do not like about that, Jim, is that it is a yes or no question. When they answer no, they are not going to answer it with no and send. They are going to answer no mentally and move on.   

Instead, I would take the first message and forward it. If you’re unable to forward with your software, copy and paste the original message and make it look like a forward, and say:  

Hey Mr. or Ms. Candidate, 

I have not heard from you. Thoughts?  

When I have done that, two or three days later, I get about the same response rate as I did on the first one. So if you are getting a 15% or 20% response rate on your first, you’ll probably get a 15% or 20% response on the second.   

Then the third email, I have seen some done really creatively. You might try something like:

Subject: Are you okay?   

Ask a question in the subject line to boost your open rate. Then the body of the email is:  

I have not heard from you on the opportunity below.   

Hopefully, you’re not stuck in a ditch somewhere. If so, let me know ASAP, and I will get help.   

Use humor to stand out from the crowd.

Another scenario may sound something like:  

What is one thing missing in your career or your role right now that you would like to have more of or less of down the road?   


It could be a combination. Try that second part at the end; try to be cute and funny, but be yourself and be unique. I have actually picked up the phone and called people when they sent me emails like that.

But you do not want to ask yes or no questions.   

Everyone uses phrases like “with a world market leader,” so they don’t hold any value. Who is going to say the antithesis of that? Is it worth a 15-minute call to find out about an opportunity with basically a real laggard in the industry? Right.   

It is almost like when we get job descriptions, and people say they want strong written and verbal communication skills. Right. Have you ever asked for somebody that does not talk or write well? 

So, when you put world market leader, there is nothing wrong with it. It is simply white noise. And it is a yes or no question. If you are going to put anything about the opportunity, you want to put something sexy, like one big bullet point. But I would not do that; I would stick with the mantra I gave you.

For more on working with prospective candidates, check out our blog post: How to Get Prospective Candidates to Return Your Calls.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your recruitment business:

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3. Join me at our next event

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