Cut & Polish

Just Out: The Definitive Guide for Recruiting Email Outreach: 2021 Edition

We’ve dug into data from over 5 million outreach sequences to tell the story about what works in our customers’ outreach endeavors. If you're looking for best practices for recruiting email outreach, look no further.

Up to 80% of recruiting now happens prior to application. This is a data point worth opening with: the very top of the funnel—and the activities it entails—has expanded exponentially in recent years. So is the fact that the majority of talent who accepts job offers now wasn’t out looking for a new role: someone actively sought them out and offered them something that bested where they were currently at. This explains the recent turn to outbound recruiting activities, and the industry’s quest for best practices around how to discover the best, most qualified passive talent; engage them; and nurture them until they’re ready to enter process for your next open role. 

All of this explains why, in a recent Gem survey, nearly 70% of talent leaders told us that their highest-priority initiative for 2021 was sourcing and growing pipeline. What’s more, 60% said that they plan to invest their TA budgets in sourcing tools and tech this year—making sourcing and outreach tools the most popular addition to recruiting tech stacks in 2021. This makes sense. After all, sourcing improves both quality of hire and workforce diversity; and it ultimately reduces time to hire and cost of hire because you’re constantly building and nurturing a pipeline of ready talent: sourced candidates are hired at more than twice the rate at which inbound applicants are hired. 

Of course, once teams have those tools, they need to know how to best use them. What are best practices for passive talent outreach? How do you cut through the noise? What drives prospects to click into—and then respond to—certain messages over others? We field these questions regularly; which is why we’re republishing The Definitive Guide for Recruiting Email Outreach, with updated data, at a time when employer brand—in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter movement, in the attempts to keep company cultures alive in the transition to remote work—means more than ever before. It’s why we offer plenty of examples of great passive talent outreach in this resource, along with opinions from some of our best customers on most effective practices. 

We’ve also dug into our own data—over 5 million outreach sequences—to tell the story about what works in our customers’ outreach endeavors. We cover:

  • the ideal number of stages in an initial outreach sequence, along with average reply rates for each stage
  • how to space your sequence cadence to make messages more likely to be opened
  • the most successful personalization tokens, or token combinations, for email subject lines
  • the most successful personalization tokens for message content
  • best send times, broken down by even more roles than our 2020 edition covered: engineering managers, engineers, sales, recruiting/HR, product, design, data, marketing, biz dev, and more
  • other best practices for outreach elements, such as sending-on-behalf-of (SOBO) and calls to action

Here are a few takeaways you’ll find inside:



Of course, recruiting technologies (like Gem!) finally exist that centrally track top-of-funnel work and give recruiters visibility into email open rates, click-through rates, response rates, and content stats. With this data, every talent acquisition team can examine and analyze the impact of its own unique efforts, using that data to reiterate on and refine future outreach. Forward-thinking teams have already implemented this technology, and they’ve been discovering vital insights into prospect interest and engagement for a few years now.

If it’s up to us at Gem, every talent team will soon be internally equipped to discover its own best practices and start standing out in prospects’ inboxes. But we also know that it takes time to experiment and rigorously evaluate your sourcing and recruiting efforts. In the meantime, we’ll keep updating The Definitive Guide for Recruiting Email Outreach to help you understand what kinds of messages are statistically more likely to resonate with, and encourage responses from, your prospects. And we wish you the exhilaration of discovery on your own journey.

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Content Strategist
April 2, 2021
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