Article main image
Jan 22, 2019

Finding candidates is the first and most important aspect of a sourcers job, followed closely by contacting candidates. According to Software Advice’s report, the preferred method of first candidate outreach is by email. I spent months creating an email that I felt would yield a high response rate. When I finished, the email ended up working to the tune of 85% reply rate (average over email, I, mail and other mail type services).

The Method

To begin, I started with research. I spoke with other sourcers, read a lot of articles on SourceCon, and reviewed many online examples. Even creating an email should begin with research.

After I concluded my research, I began crafting several different emails and subject lines. I went through several versions of the subject line trying to find the right blend. The subject line needed to be attention-grabbing, pass spam filters, and simple enough that I can personalize it.

I used the following tools to help create these subject lines;

  • Textio
  • Subject Line test which is a tool that checks subject lines. The one I ended with got a 92 out of 100 which is very strong.
  • Readability-score to make sure that both the actual readability and automated readability (a bot reading it to you) were within the guidelines that my research showed.
  • Then I also checked blacklists such as; DCC list, SPAM COP, and others, as well as performed a SPAM test using Melon-stork.

The Testing

Next, I created a couple of emails. I created a general email with plenty of room for personalization. I decided to write two emails that would be general and yet still focus on the candidate following the WIFM (“What’s in it for Me”).

Once the emails were drafted, I needed to test it using various tools including (the results of the scores are the results for the winning email and subject line):

  • Textio in which it got a 91% score which is outstanding.
  • Readability measured an eight and six for automated; I also did an Engagement level test using MosaicTrack were it acquired a 99%.
  • Joblint to make sure there was no cultural, realism, tech, recruiter or sexism problem with what I wrote, and got zero which means good to go.
  • Having already tested the subject line for both the line itself and spam all I need to do was check the mail itself for spam, and it got a .02 which is excellent since anything over 5.0 is considered spam.

Once I got all this done, it was time for A/B testing. So having created two emails and two subject lines that appeared good and passed all the testing I created with four combinations: Subject line 1 with Email 1, Subject line 1 with email 2, Subject line 2 with email 1, and subject line 2 with email 2. I then sent them all to 10 candidates each to gain more results.

The Criteria

My criteria included, replies, replies of interest, replies to connect, replies with recommendations, no response. Replies got one point, response to connecting got two points, replies with recommendations got three points, and then replies of interest got four points, and well no replies got zero points. Of course, in some cases, you might get replies of interest, who connected and provided a recommendation, in these cases and any others received multiple scores. I added up the scores. So in the example above that email would get a 10.

Let me explain a little further; if the person replied but was not interested, that is still a win for the mail because I got them to reply. When they replied but were not interested but connected on social media, it was a bigger win because not only did they reply to the email, but I am now connected to them and everyone they are connected to. If they replied but were not interested but had a recommendation that was also a win. If they responded and were interested the email worked. Of course, if they replied and were engaged, and gave me referrals, and connected with me on social media that was the ultimate result.

The Email

Subject: Are you looking for something more out of your career

Hi  XXX,

Rather than taking your time at work with a phone call, it would be better if I sent you an email.

My name is XXXXX. I am Sourcer with XXXXX. Which means we search the country looking to help top professionals improve and advance their careers. So it is no accident that we are talking.

I’m guessing that you are probably not looking to try something new right now, but I would love to speak to you briefly about opportunities that may be more passionate about than what you are currently doing.

If we get the opportunity to speak live, I’m confident our conversation will be different than what you may be accustomed to. We are not interested in “pitching” you a job based on our needs, but rather a career based on your wants and dreams.

With that in mind, please contact me at if you would like to have a short, non-committal conversation.



Signature block


The XXX is you need to input your information

Now if you want to personalize it more, you add something personal after the “, so it is no accident we are talking.” Now, how and or where do you get this information is another thing. For me, I always check out their social presence and utilize two tools called DeepSense and Crystal Knows. Deepsense and Crystal Knows are tools that use AI and personality methods to help you identify information about a person.

In the end, my response rate averages an 85% reply rate on emails.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!