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Top 9 recruitment email mistakes and fixes
According to 2022 research from Statista, email remains a popular communication method, with around 306 billion emails sent every day in 2020. This is expected to grow to over 376 billion daily emails by 2025. However, an increase in daily emails decreases the chance your recruiting emails reach your desired candidate.
Optimizing your recruiting emails to candidates is essential, whether you’re a recruiter sending a cold email to a passive candidate with the perfect résumé or sending mass emails to former employees as part of a full-scale recruitment campaign. By understanding the mistakes below, you can ensure your recruiting emails work for you, not against you.
1. Spelling and grammatical errors
Simple mistakes, like punctuation in the wrong place, complex syntax, or misspelled words, can immediately present yourself as unprofessional or untrustworthy.
With the continued rise of email scams, sending emails with blatant errors in spelling and capitalization make you seem suspicious. As a result, your email is more likely to end up in the candidate’s trash folder instead of being taken seriously.
How to fix it: Run it through spell check
Running your emails through a spell checker is a free, quick, and effective way to scan your message before sending it. Most email providers and internet browsers have spelling and grammar checkers already available. If you don’t see yours, check either’s settings to ensure the application is on.
Alternatively, use spelling and grammar checkers in software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Despite the extra steps of copying and pasting your message into these programs, fixing these mistakes is necessary, especially if writing is not your full-time job.
2. Tonal mismatch
Writing a recruiting email to candidates is different from writing a letter to your grandmother. Starting an email with “Dear [candidate name],” “To whom it may concern,” or “Good day [candidate name]” are not only too formal but are old-fashioned and stuffy.
Remember the tone you choose reflects the position and, by extension, your company culture. For example, being too formal can make it appear like your company is stuffy and inflexible; too experimental may come off as a risky gamble; too eager may seem you are desperate or on hard times.
Instead, imagine you are talking to someone in-person at a business event and strike a balance between professionalism and friendliness. And don’t be afraid to showcase a little of your company’s personality — after all, the right amount can pique the interest of job seekers with similar values.
How to fix it: Have AI review it
If finding the right tone is a struggle, artificial intelligence (AI) tools can help. For example, you can ask generative AI tools like ChatGPT to review your recruitment email and rewrite it in a tone of your choosing.
Similarly, other apps like Grammarly can parse your email and make tonal suggestions directly in your text. For instance, you can change your sentences to sound more professional, confident, or diplomatic.
AI is a useful tool but remember to always reread your email before sending it. Your voice should shine through and maintain the right balance of formality and familiarity.
Check out how Grammarly can help fix the tone of your email below:
3. Misleading email subject lines or email addresses
[No subject], SUBJECTS ALL IN CAPS, or email subject lines urging to “Apply Now for a Fantastic Job Opportunity!” are ineffective and may appear suspicious to candidates.
Similarly, email addresses from a group email, like firstname.lastname@example.org, or personal email servers, like email@example.com, can seem like phishing scams to candidates. Some email providers may automatically filter emails with unclear subjects or email addresses into spam or junk folders so it never reaches your intended recipient.
How to fix it: Use a personal subject and your individual work email address
Make sure the subject line of your email is honest with a max length of 50 characters. Consider making the subject line personal or unique enough to spark curiosity without becoming clickbait.
Examples include the following:
- [Job Title] Opening at [Company Name]
- [Person referring] mentioned you might be the perfect fit for our [job title]
- Hi [Candidate Name] — we’re impressed with your [candidate skill]!
Additionally, send emails from your personal work email. Not only does it look more professional, but it also demonstrates you took the time to research the candidate and found their qualities match your open position, thereby increasing the likelihood they will actually apply.
4. Using the wrong name
Your potential candidates will lose trust in you if they receive an email starting with “Hello [Name]” because mail merge fields didn’t populate correctly. Beyond losing legitimacy, you appear as if you didn’t do your due diligence.
Ask yourself: how could a candidate respect you as a potential employer if you didn’t put the time in to get their name right? It’s both off-putting and insulting, and your email is going straight to the trash.
How to fix it: Have a peer double-check
Take a moment to have a peer read your emails and ensure your name fields populate correctly. If you send several emails daily, missing little details like this can be easy. A second set of eyes can double-check you’re using candidates’ correct names and titles so your email looks like a credible source.
5. Long messages
According to a 2022 Litmus study, consumers only spend about nine seconds reading marketing emails. As a form of job marketing, reader engagement with recruitment emails is not much different.
Thus, you only have a few seconds to grab candidates’ attention and advertise your open role. Sending lengthy emails can turn off busy candidates who don’t have time to read through a lot of emails every day.
How to fix it: Set a word limit
Limiting the number of words or characters you use can help you express the key points of your message concisely.
Some research even suggests that writing emails between 50 and 125 words can help you increase your response rates. So, if you want to improve your candidate conversion rate and other recruiting metrics, keep your emails under 100 words max.
You can even link to relevant pages for more information, such as your job descriptions, benefits packages, or company website. If your message is effective, they’ll click to investigate more.
6. Boring content
Emails are typically not much more than black text on a white background. If your emails are black and white without even a stylized company signature, not much else will visually distinguish them from others. Not only is it boring to read through, but it can also seem like it comes from a less established company without the resources for company branding.
How to fix it: Add images and video
Consider adding one visual element to your email, such as a hiring manager video introducing the open position or an infographic highlighting your company’s culture and values. Not only will it look cooler, but it will also add personality and interest.
This doesn’t mean you should have several different fonts and colors or media in every corner. Applying too many visual elements can be overwhelming to recipients, especially those who are neurodivergent or visually impaired. Instead, choose design elements that will keep candidates invested in learning about your open opportunities.
7. No call to action or unsubscribe buttons
A call to action is a simple instruction that tells readers what to do after reading your content. Failing to include a call to action, like “apply using the following link” or “schedule a time to chat,” can reduce your email reply rates.
Similarly, not including an option to opt out of these emails, such as an unsubscribe button, means you could be wasting time trying to engage uninterested candidates. Also, not giving candidates an easy way to opt out could violate privacy data laws, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) requires you to obtain candidates’ permission before sending them emails. Even if you’re only hiring in the U.S., there’s a chance you may receive applications from people who are protected by GDPR.
There are several other requirements under GDPR, including unsubscribe processes and data purging. Read Workable’s guide to GDPR compliance for recruiters to learn more.
How to fix it: Add them to the email first
So you don’t forget, craft your call to action and opt-out messages first. Your call to action should clearly indicate what you want the reader to do next.
For example, if you want them to respond, include your contact information or a link to your calendar app to schedule a time to talk. If you want them to apply, include a link to your job application.
Your unsubscribe button should also be conspicuous; don’t hide it in tiny, imperceivable text at the bottom of the email. Instead, be genuine, and let them know that opting out is okay.
8. Failing to follow up
Sending one email is not always enough. Your one email could easily disappear in the shuffle of your candidate’s inbox, or you could have sent it at the wrong time of day. In other words, you could be losing out on a qualified prospect just by failing to follow up at least one more time.
How to fix it: Create automatic email follow-ups
Scheduling follow-up emails after you send your first one can make it so you don’t forget. You can even be strategic and schedule your email to send at times of the day when candidates are more likely to see it.
Most email providers allow you to schedule an email in advance, but if you don’t keep track, you may accidentally send unnecessary follow-up emails after the candidate has responded. An applicant tracking system (ATS) like Greenhouse can monitor candidate responses and automate follow-ups so you don’t forget
9. Not measuring campaign effectiveness
You won’t know if something is working unless you measure it. For example, you may have noticed you’re conducting more interviews, but you can’t say for sure. Without the numbers to support the changes to your email recruitment strategies, you’ll never know what contributes to more interviews or applicants so you can continue to optimize it.
How to fix it: Use recruiting software
Recruitment software can help you track the success of your emails to candidates, such as measuring click-through rates (CTRs), open rates, and reply rates. You can even perform A/B testing to compare whether certain messages, writing styles, times sent, or subject lines increase candidate conversion.
For example, hireEZ can help you track open rates, CTRs, and reply rates for both single and mass emails to candidates. With its reports dashboard, you can also measure the success of your email campaign compared to historical data.
Take a look at hireEZ’s outbound recruiting features below:
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Increase the success of your candidate outreach
Ineffective recruitment emails can immediately turn off candidate interest — or worse, get your email sent to spam so you can never engage with the prospective employee again.
Instead, proactive measures that minimize common recruiting email mistakes, like simple spell-checking and follow-up automations, can improve your chances of candidates applying. And, with the right recruitment software, you can iterate on your email processes to ensure continued candidate engagement.
1 Tracker ATS & CRM
Tracker is an Integrated ATS, CRM and Recruitment Automation Software. We help staffing & recruiting firms save hours and place candidates quicker in our all-in-one platform so they can increase revenue while cutting operational costs.
Find the best candidates with Workable's applicant tracking software. Workable helps you source, track, and hire candidates, all in less time. Whether you’re hiring Employee #2 or 200 new employees, Workable’s scalable tools, know-how, and support comes wrapped in enterprise-grade tech that’s as easy to use as your favorite app.
Create best-in-class candidate experiences and efficient recruiting processes for hiring success. ClearCompany helps your company find and hire more top talent with modern text, video, and interview scheduling tools. ClearCompany incorporates your job-specific requirements to optimize requisitions, elevate interview conversations, evaluate candidates fairly, and hire top talent aligned with your company's culture and mission.