How To Write Email Subject Lines That Work for Recruitment

Email marketing tactics continue to evolve as new technology becomes available.

The key is to know how to effectively use the technology you have while incorporating constantly changing best practices into your recruitment messages.

Here are eight important trends you can use to create winning email subject lines that work because they give your audience a reason to open your recruitment emails.

1 — Harness the power of brevity

Ever read a subject line that trails off the page? It’s a common problem in the digital age of email marketing — and one that annoys readers.

This type of flaw makes you look wordy at best and inexperienced at worst. There’s a better way to capture a nurse’s attention. Just stick with the magic number of 35 — as in characters.

Tammy Pennington, channel marketing manager for digital recruitment at powered by Relias, said you have a better chance of getting a message to fit the subject line space by shooting for 35 characters.

Sticking to this character count also makes your subject line mobile friendly, which is important and ultimately makes it an email subject lines that work.

2 — Know your audience

Companies like us offer email marketing services designed to help customers with their digital strategies.

To do this, we invest in powerful email automation platforms capable of segmenting out your target audience, based on job title, location and credentials. This is how we ensure the right people get the right message at the right time.

“Email automation platforms also give you the ability to market to your audience based on their activity or a newly collected data point,” said Emily Christian, manager of eCommerce digital marketing at powered by Relias. “This strategy not only gives you a much better return on your marketing investment, but it also personalizes the experience your audience has with your brand.”

And to properly segment the audience, Christian said it requires collecting as much data as possible about each person whose email address is in the database.

3 — Personalize the message

“The important thing for brands is to be personable,” said Kerleisha Jones, a former eCommerce marketing strategist at “Recognize a holiday and be timely with it because there is a good chance people will respond in a positive way.”

Another trend is for organizations to incorporate the email recipient’s first name into the subject line as a way of personalizing the message. Just test the email before sending it to make sure the name populates properly.

4 — Send the best by A/B testing

When you have two solid subject lines but aren’t sure which one will hit it out of the ballpark, run an A/B test.

Here’s how it works. Send out two emails, one with each subject line. Use only a small subset of your target audience for each email subject line.

Then look at the analytics to see which subject line performs better, Jones said, because the analytics report doesn’t lie.

Then send the winning subject line out to the remainder of your distribution list.

Pennington agrees that A/B testing is an invaluable tool.

“If (recruiters) don’t know where to start, don’t try to wing it because subject lines are the opening to see if people will actually open the email itself,” she said.

5 — Emojis have a place

The mood-boosting appeal of emojis can give subject lines a certain feeling of lightheartedness.

“It’s good to use emojis during a holiday or a customer anniversary,” Jones said.

A pop of color can easily grab a reader’s attention, but don’t overuse emojis because they could lose their appeal, she said.

Fair warning: Be aware emojis sometimes do not display correctly in a subject line.

Again, Jones suggests sending out an email as a test. Also consider A/B testing to see how your customers respond to emojis because every audience is different.

6 — Spammers beware

Know what spam email looks like so you are not creating the same type of stuff.

If the subject line looks too much like a sales pitch, the audience is less likely to open your email, Pennington said.

Her best tip is simple but effective: “Act as if the subject line is the only thing they will read.”

Recruiters need to be about five steps ahead of spam filters so their emails are not on the spam filter super highway.

“Spam filters sometimes filter out words like winner, prizes or different characters,” Pennington said.

7 — Don’t be boring

Bland subject lines rarely win high click rates, Pennington said.

Get creative and remember how much email your audience reads per day or week. The answer is probably too much.

“Look at your email,” she said. “If there isn’t a reason to open it, they won’t click on it. General subject lines like ‘please read’ do not work well with email marketing.”

Instead, she suggests phrases such as “hiring now,” “interviews today” or “bonus available for quick hire” to make your open rates soar. Only use these words, however, if you can deliver on the offer.

8 — Prevent duplicate messages

Ever open your inbox to see hundreds of unread emails? It’s not your fault.

We know the frustration of receiving too much email, not to mention the undue stress it can cause. Unfortunately, some organizations fail to clean up their email database, which is why duplicate messages clog your inbox.

“It’s also critical to have rules and processes in place to ensure your email marketing doesn’t become invasive,” Christian said. “We do our best to make sure no email address receives two messages from in a single day by setting sending limits in our platform.”