Top 12 best practices for crafting outreach sequences to passive candidates

Ilona Tarnavsky

Ilona Tarnavsky

6 min read

Oftentimes, it takes more than a few tries to get responses from candidates. So it’s important to get the timing, content, and details of your outreach right. Follow the steps below, and you’ll be able to create one of the best sequences for outreaching to candidates.

1. Write Compelling Content

First things first, you’ve got to have a strong message to send out to your candidates. Something that grabs their attention, explains what you’re looking for, and keeps it short and sweet. So let’s dive into some ways to make your outreach content stand out.

2. Think from the Candidate’s Perspective

Explain why the role you are hiring for would be a positive career move for your candidate. They don’t care about what you get out of hiring them; they care about what they get out of taking a new role. Think of the benefits from their perspective to create a message that resonates.

3. Always include the job description

Always include the job description in your first message to the candidate. Don’t include more than one or two links per message, so your candidate isn’t overwhelmed. Make sure every sentence adds value. If it doesn’t clarify the role, culture, or why the move will be a positive fit for the candidate, it doesn’t belong in your outreach

4. What to say at each outreach

Outreach Step 1: Describe the role you’re hiring for and why it’s interesting

Outreach Step 2: Talk about company values, leadership, and mission

Outreach Step 3: Dig into the unique impact this role will have

Outreach Step 4: This is the last chance - so it is now or never to connect about this role

5. Add a Personal Touch

What gets you so excited about working with this team or company? Is there something about this company that really stands out? What about something unique about the role you’re hiring for?

6. Including first name

Another great way to add a personal touch is by including the candidate’s first name in the subject line. But watch out - this is usually appropriate for go-to-market and product or design folks, but often doesn’t work as well for engineering recruiting.

7. ‘Namedropping’ is always a great idea

Is this candidate a referral from an existing employee? If yes, then ‘namedropping’ the referrer’s full name in the subject line or sprinkling it throughout the sequence is always a great idea, provided you have permission from the referrer to do so.

8. Allow sending to professional addresses - in some cases

Send your outreach emails to professional email addresses and use a professional placeholder especially if you are recruiting for go-to-market and general and administrative roles. An exception will be for engineering roles - you will definitely stand out if you are able to reach candidates at their personal email addresses.

9. Always double-check for typos

Once you’ve got your sequence written and the timing worked out, you may think you’re ready to hit send. But it’s a good idea to double-check for typos or grammatical errors.

10. Get the Timing Right

We did a whole bunch of tests and found that the ideal number of steps for a recruiting outreach sequence is four. Here’s when to send those emails:

11. Try a 15 Day Cycle

Day 0

Send the first message

Day 6

Send the second message

Day 12

Send the third message

Day 15

Send the fourth, and final, message

12. Send at the Right Time of Day

The time of day a candidate receives an email can impact open rate, click-through, and more. So what times are a safe bet? Typically, weekdays 12:00pm to 2:00pm and 5:00pm to 7:00pm work well for candidates in North America and Europe. While weekends work really well in North America, they don’t work as much in Europe.

Keep iterating

Now that you’ve got the ideal outreach sequence on lock, the best thing is to try it! Find those hidden gems (link to previous article) and get the conversation started. With Covey, you can measure the effectiveness of your sequences with our conversion metrics such as open rate, replied rate, and interested rates.

Covey makes adopting these best practices easy.

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