A Step by Step Guide on How to Personalize an Email

I’ve been getting spammed by a vendor who starts every email “Hi Deepak” and continues to tell me why I should meet with them.

But my name isn’t Deepak.

It’s not even close. It’s not even the right gender.

So I don’t open the email, and it goes in the trash.

Don’t be that vendor! 


Lately, I’ve been playing with subject lines in my reach outs. Some that I’ve tried this week are:

Data+Product = John (his right name) at CompanyName

CompanyName LOVES Canadians (for a Canadian candidate now in the US)

CompanyName Needs a Trumpet Player!

And last but not least…. Analytics? Check. Start-up? Check. CandidateName. Check???

Once they open the email, I start immediately with the humor/personalization based on what I know about them. For example, for the candidate who is originally from Canada, I said that we are an equal opportunity employer, but that I do love his background for this role at this company. For the trumpet player, I say that we have a Friday happy hour and would like him to play, after a hard week as our account manager.

And then, I say why. A lot of why.

Why they should choose this company.

Why this is a good fit for their career.

Why they want to explore this.

What job they’ve had that this could be similar to (example: since you were at XYZ start up from the beginning, you know what it takes to lead a product from concept to launch.).

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Why this is just an opportunity to explore. They aren’t signing on the dotted line, yet.

I include a link to my calendar so that they are one click away from an initial conversation. I give them an out saying that if my timing isn’t right, I will appreciate any referrals they can send my way.

I give them a job description and a link to the company website, and I thank them for their time.

If I don’t hear back in a week, I follow up in a genuine way. You can use a popular extension, like Mail Tracker to see when a candidate opens an email. I remind them of this opportunity, re-send my calendar link, and ask again for referrals if my timing isn’t right. With the second email, I make sure that the name of the company is in my subject line with something like “CompanyName Needs a Developer Like You” or “Reminder That You Want to Learn About CompanyName.”

Depending on my desperation, I reach out a third time a week or two later to see if anything has changed and ended that note asking them to contact me if/when they are ready to look around. I am more than happy to spend some time with suitable candidates who are starting a job search, it builds relationship, trust and makes them an excellent referral source if not an easy placement.

When reaching out to a candidate, make sure your communication is quick, personal and engaging. Add in a promise that the conversation will be about them, fun and engaging and you have a recipe for success. Who can say no to that?





Liz is the Owner/Principal Recruiter at Liz Bronson Consulting, specializing in teaching companies how to recruit with a more human-centric approach to finding talent. She and her team also augment company recruiting teams, finding them top business-side talent. 
Liz began her corporate career as an HR Generalist, and took those skills to recruiting, where her holistic approach to people management helped hiring managers build productive, cohesive teams. She spent 9 years at VMware predominantly focused on building out the product management and product marketing groups before helping companies such as SignalFx, Hortonworks, Greylock Partners and Evernote.
Outside of work, Liz is active in the Austin community, serving on the Board of Little Helping Hands- a non-profit dedicated to teaching young people the value of community service. She is often found with her family and 2 crazy dogs.