Cut & Polish

Recruiting Outreach Best Practices During Uncertain Job Markets

How do you reach out to candidates who may be hesitant about switching roles in an uncertain job market? Here are some tips and examples for engagement.

Here at Gem, we know that even in these uncertain times, companies are continuing to hire—many of them at full-speed. But even if your company has slowed its hiring for the moment, it’s still a best practice to keep sourcing, queueing up outreach, and engaging in conversations with prospects and candidates. This way, when recruiting gets turned all the way back on, your team can hit the ground running.

If you’re unsure how to reach out to candidates who may be hesitant about switching roles in an uncertain job market, here are some tips and example messaging for how to engage with them. At a high level, here are some best practices:

  • Empathize with prospective candidates and acknowledge why they might be uncertain about switching roles right now
  • Emphasize that you’re still growing and continuing to hire (perhaps cite growth rates or point to recent key hires)
  • Highlight key business metrics that are trending positively (ARR growth, headcount increase, a recent round of funding, etc.)
  • Include social proof (news articles underscoring that your industry is in it for the long haul, blog posts from recent employees about why they decided to join your company now, etc.)
  • Mention that even if they’re absolutely clear that a career move feels risky right now, you’d still love to chat—if nothing more than to hear about their career goals and aspirations so you can keep them in mind for future roles

Recruiting is a long game. Remember, even if prospective candidates aren’t ready to make the leap right now, nurturing them can lead to key hires later on. Offer to stay in touch and follow-up. (Sequences are great for this.) Below are three examples of first messages in sequences based on the best practices above.

Outreach Example 1

Subject: Looking for our next Python Expert in Chicago

Hi, {{first_name}},

My name is Brian and I’m working alongside our CTO at ZenFin to find some of the best back-end engineers to grow our current team. ZenFin is an account aggregation technology that’s making big waves in fintech. Last year we raised $47M in funding, opened our second engineering hub in Chicago, and are scaling our team there. Our next few hires will be critical, as they’ll shape the engineering culture of our new office.

It’s a delicate time for all of us, I know—particularly when it comes to making decisions around work. ZenFin has aggressive growth plans, and those haven’t slowed in the face of recent world events. In fact, we just signed a Lead Engineer (Anna) from Stripe on Monday, and we’ve got two other offers out now. Here and here are two recent articles about how fintech is poised to thrive in this moment.

I’d love to chat more with you about what you’d want in your next job opportunity and see if your aspirations align with our open eng positions. (Even if you don’t want to make a move right now, I’d love to chat! Maybe your goals will align with a future open position.) I’m also happy to put you in touch with Anna if you’d like to hear why she decided to come work for us.

Looking forward to talking with you, {{first_name}}!

Outreach Example 2

Subject: {{first_name}}, interested in working at a fast-growing startup where you can make a high impact?

Hi {{first_name}},

I hope this email finds you safe and well in light of recent world news. I know these times are uncertain and it may not seem like the best time to switch roles; but if you’ve been thinking about what’s next after {{company}}, we're still growing here at Acme and would love to have a conversation with you.

Your experience as a {{title}} at {{company}} and {{extra1}} tell me that you are not afraid to take on interesting challenges and partner closely with cross-functional team members. That's exactly what we're looking for. Here at Acme, one of our core values is transparency, so in that spirit, I thought I'd share more about why we're a good bet:

  • locked up a $50 million Series C three months ago
  • 3x'ed our revenue in 2019
  • 2.5x'ed our team in 2019
  • continue to close huge deals with customers like Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon

As you might imagine, we need more hands on deck; and I think your experience doing {{reason}} makes you uniquely suited to help us hit our 2020 goals.

Are you up for a chat this week or next to see if what you are looking for in your next opportunity aligns with what Acme has to offer?

As I mentioned, hope you're staying safe and well + let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

Outreach Example 3

Subject: Your friend {{extra 1}} tells me you’ve got game


Happy {{day of the week}}. I hope this finds you well in the midst of this strange moment. My name is Carmen and I’m a recruiter at We’re expanding our design team right now, and I’ve been reaching out to my network to find the best-of-the-best in Austin. I met up with {{extra 1}} for coffee last week and you came up as a best-in-class UX designer. I honestly can’t imagine a more enthusiastic recommendation.

I’d understand the impulse to not make any major life decisions at this moment; but it’s an incredibly meaningful and important time to be in health tech. was named one of the Top 10 Startups to Work for in Austin last year, and we’re well on our way to proving our long-term stability. I also want to be clear that I’m not interested in selling you a job. It’s a time for careful choices; and I’d much rather hear what you’d be looking for in your next position.

Of course, if your needs align with what we have to offer, we can go from there! If not, it will have been great to meet another friend of {{extra 1}}’s. Would you be open to chatting this week about our open positions? I’d be happy to invite {{extra 1}} along to the conversation, if you want to hear first-hand about the team.

Thanks for considering, {{first_name}}. I look forward to getting to learn more about you.

Hopefully these tips and examples give you some clarity on how to wield those best practices. From all of us at Gem, we're wishing you health and ease in this moment... and feel free to reach out to us if there's anything we can do to help.

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Content Strategist
March 24, 2020
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