Why Candidates Are Ignoring Your Emails

As a recruiter or a sourcer, do you ever wonder about methods to get qualified candidates to respond to your messages? In today’s competitive candidate market and with the rise of AI, aka “the robots,” we tend to forget about the human elements of recruiting. With the emergence of sourcing tools, finding top talent today is easier than ever. The hard part is getting them to respond. Can we create a compelling enough message that will get answered? Many of us have faced this problem. Let’s talk about the challenges of sourcing and how we can get candidates to respond. Here are my three tips:


Tip #1: Personalize Your Message

You have to personalize. You’re out there looking to find some people. You want to customize the message that you’re going to send out. Whether it’s an email, an InMail, a direct message on Facebook or Twitter, you want to make sure that it’s personalized to the candidate. For example, “I see that you play the guitar. We’re looking to add a guitar player to our team.” Things like that, as opposed to, “I have a great job opportunity.” You’re probably wondering where you could find out something like that to hook that candidate. Have you heard of social media? You can go to Twitter. (I’m always on the Twitters)! You can go to Facebook. It’s amazing where a simple Google search can take you. Or even picking up the phone! Have a conversation with the candidate. Once you get that point, all you have to do is ask. Ask them what they like to do outside of work.


Tip #2: Keep it Entertaining

I think you have to keep it entertaining, right? You’ve got to make it fun. Tell a joke. Don’t just make it be about just the job. Find something interesting to write. Nobody wants to receive a message with a tedious job description. Top talent is continually getting recruiting related requests. Sending another generic message with a long and monotonous job description will not result in a personalized response. They won’t even read the message, let alone the job description. They won’t open the message especially if you hit them up with a subject line like, “I have a great job opportunity.” Nobody wants to hear that today. Instead, have a compelling subject line that will entice the candidate to read more. After all, that is the first thing the candidate will see. You’ll need to be creative to make contact.


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Tip #3: Keep it Real

Be transparent about the whole process. Let them know that this process could take a little bit longer due to travel schedules or budget approvals, etc. Again, there are so many tools out there, and we will have to use some of them, but we can still keep it real. We don’t need a tool to ask a candidate to grab a cup of coffee. Keep it real, keep it authentic! Be different! Don’t do what everybody else is doing. Try it, it works. I think the outcome is so much better when you’re human about it.


So what could the potential outcome be by using these three tips? Perhaps a relationship with the candidate, maybe a friendship? For me, relationships and friendships matter and those are real. Maybe I’m a little old school, but old school works. As Katrina Collier says, #behuman.


Angie is the founder of Vaia Talent. A passionate, strategic and innovative TA leader, she has a unique combination of successful recruiting leadership coupled with talent brand and operations experience. Angie has an impeccable work ethic and proven track record of success in identifying, recruiting and hiring outstanding talent. With experience in fast-paced entrepreneurial and startup environments, she excels at designing and implementing recruiting programs to build social and brand awareness.

In her 12+ year career in the recruiting space, she has been responsible for managing and executing overall company talent acquisition strategy to meet firms’ high growth people needs, improve policies, procedures and tools for effective and seamless candidate sourcing. She has also led employment branding and social recruiting efforts to create candidate awareness and engagement.

On a personal note, Angie enjoys traveling to Greece and spending time with her beautiful daughter and wonderful husband. You'll also catch her listening to Duran Duran tunes.


10 Comments on “Why Candidates Are Ignoring Your Emails

  1. As someone who has been on all sides of this equation (believe me, there are more than two if that gives you any indication about how much I know about this space), I definitely say share this article — as an example of what NOT to do when courting candidates:

    1. While yes candidates appreciate personalized messages, that means that they are relevant to them from a professional perspective, not creeping into their social media feeds and looking for ways to make them look endearing. That’s called CYBERSTALKING and very disturbing. As a candidate, you wouldn’t want me to look you up online and see what you do in your free time and asking you to place me somewhere so don’t do it to me!!!!

    2. No matter who pays you, your job as a talent acquisition professional first and foremost is to connect candidates to clients. It’s NOT to be entertaining, funny, cute or endearing. The only thing that’s more annoying than a recruiter who is clearly trying to pander to my better side is one who cyberstalks me (see #1) or one that claims that s/he read your LinkedIn profile soliciting you about a job that has absolutely nothing to do with your background whatsoever.

    3. While yes, you should definitely “keep it real”, you shouldn’t be simply be blindly listening to the hiring manager and his need to only hire from the top X schools or his Y biggest competitors. You as a talent professional should be striving to make it a great experience for the candidate as well so when the day comes when s/he needs a recruiter, s/he remembers you as the true talent acquisition professional, not some putz who asked the candidate to coffee in a poor attempt to prove s/he wasn’t some semi-anonymous voice behind a phone.

    Part of this means that you need to be accessible and to (gasp) follow through on your commitments. If you are going to place a candidate, you better be available to answer her/his calls – don’t hide behind autoresponders or form letter replies and expect us to pat you on the back for sending a template email rejection because it wasn’t sent by a computer! It still is cold and impersonal and quite unprofessional to boot!

    Beyond that, if a candidate does not end up getting the job this should not tell you that this candidate is unhireable. If a candidate reaches out to you on LinkedIn, accept it graciously with an open heart and network. There’s nothing more repulsive than a recruiter that thinks that they are geniuses and that no one is worthy of their help.

    Pity there are so many bad recruiters out there — please don’t give them more bad advice okay?

  2. I was truly hoping that a someone in talent acquisition would provide the right answer this question since it’s becoming more obvious each day that most don’t know the answer. Sadly, this answer shows me that even the ‘thought leaders’ are totally out of touch with reality.

    Here’s the deal:

    1. Yes – definitely personalize your message – I definitely like it when someone actually calls me by first name in message and I like it when someone actually takes more than the typical 30 second ‘scan’ that supposedly most recruiters / sourcers do and find something relevant to the position you are looking to fill and my background. However, please PLEASE don’t go to my Facebook page and then try use that as a hook to get me talk to you. While I realize social media has somehow made many of us open to sharing more about our lives online, it doesn’t mean you should CYBERSTALK me. If I played guitar and had a picture somewhere and someone contacted me saying “Oh you should join my company – we are looking for guitar players to join our band” I’d first call your boss and get you fired and then I’d call the cops for you being such a creep.

    2 – Do NOT try to be entertaining. I guess as recruiters you think that you are smarter than the average candidate so your rules don’t apply, but they apply to you even moreso. This means don’t try to be funny, don’t try to be cute and definitely be prepared when you have an actual live opportunity that matches what I am looking for. There’s nothing more annoying than being contacted by a recruiter only to say that they don’t really know much about a job, but they want to connect on LinkedIn, they think it’s X title, but it might be Y, and the pay is between $1 and $250,000 a year, but we don’t know if they have funding. If you expect us to be professional — you be too!

    3 – Yes you should keep it real – but your suggestion is wrong. As the recruiter by accepting that candidate, that means that you owe it to that person to help them as best you can even if you have other candidates you are working with. Recently saw an update on LI where a recruiter said that he didn’t want to game the system by sharing too much information. I wanted to call him out there on the spot — your job as the recruiter IS to help the candidate get that job because (in case you don’t remember) if you don’t place someone you usually don’t get paid. Even if you are a retained recruiter, you won’t get another placement from that company if you don’t deliver. So… DELIVER!

  3. Hey! It was an excellent article. It is something that maby we already know but it is always good to have a reminder ! Thank you very much! #BeHuman

  4. Hey Angie,
    Great Article!

    I faced the same situation i saw few of them just ignore the emails when i asked them they replied the format of email is not upto the standard. I am using iSmartRecruit ATS System that helps me a lot and allows me to send email and sms to the candidates in any social media platforms using SMS & Email Integration.

  5. The reason I don’t reply to almost ALL of the emails from recruiters is because it is obvious they haven’t taken the time to see if I was a good match before reaching out. The intro sounds promising as it starts with something like,”I hope this email finds you well. I came across your profile online and after seeing your skills and experience thought you would be a fantastic fit for…” Fill in the blank. The problem? Its for a Jr. level position, that is a 6 month contract, in a state that is on the other side of the country!

    One, I have over 20 years of professional experience working on some large projects with highly respected companies who are top in the industry. I’ve also taught much of this software at the college level. What exactly in my profile screamed out “Jr. position” to the knuckle-headed recruiter that sent it?
    Two, If they took 3 seconds to actually look at my profile, they would have seen that I am employed full-time. Why would I leave a full-time gig to take a six month contract, especially in a state that is nowhere near where I live?

    Before I see replies that say there are always a FEW bad apples in any industry, let me stop you. This is the lion share of the recruiting emails I receive. It is rare that I actually get one from a recruiter who actually seems as if they are a true professional in their industry, and did their research before reaching out, and has intelligent questions about my experience when doing so.

    I don’t respond because the position they are trying to fill is not even a close match for me. Its NOT because the email wasn’t fun and quirky with a few personalized sprinkles. I could care less about that stuff. As most of the others pointed out already, that is creepy and not professional. Just make sure you do your homework before reaching out.

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