The value of your subject line in sourcing
Reaching out to candidates is something all recruiters and sourcers need to do at some point. We hear best practices about writing messages, like personalizing them, adding a call-to-action or question, pitching the role in two lines, and so on. Everyone is looking for a good message that does the trick and attracts new candidates.
I receive many messages, sometimes more engaging, sometimes less. But even the engaging messages lack one essential part: an appealing subject line.
The AIDA model
Marketing students and fanatics will have heard about this one before. The AIDA model is supposed to explain the stages that a customer goes through when deciding to buy a product or service.
The acronym stands for:
A — Attention
I — Interest
D — Desire
A — Action
Now, the AIDA model applies in a lot of ways to recruitment, including messaging candidates.
As candidates receive a ton of messages every day, we need to gain their attention (subject line).
We then need to make them interested in what we have to offer (the actual message).
The interest might translate into a desire to know more about the role or company. Candidates might even do a little research themselves or ask you a couple of questions to decide if they like the job.
Once the desire is created, they agree to have a call with you. This is the action we are looking for. Congratulations!
This model works chronologically, as you can see. You need to gain a candidate’s attention first before getting them interested. On the street you go window shopping, seeing something that activates you. In your inbox, this is the subject line.
And while most recruiters and sourcers would agree that the subject line is very important, I see many people ignoring precisely that part. Your message could be the best out there. If your subject line sucks, just a low number of candidates will read it.
Improve your subject lines
I have good news for you. Getting the attention of candidates is easy. If most subject lines are poor, you just need to be different to stand out. But it’s also challenging as you have just a couple of words to gain a candidate’s attention.
“New job opportunity!”
“Daisy is waiting for you”
Which message would you rather open?
If you say the first one, please close this article now.
And honestly, subject line 2 is not a masterpiece either, but it already does the tick. On top of it, it helps to be different in your message. For instance, in this example, you can tell a story about Daisy the office dog.
Try to be creative. Think about something outstanding in your team or organization. A funny story that a team member told you. Or add an emotional trigger.
You can go against people’s instincts and tell them not to do something (“you don’t want to see this”) or provoke candidates, so they’re forced to defend themselves (“what do you want from me, man?!”).
Does that sound a little like clickbait? Probably. Does clickbait work? Definitely.
As long as you keep it reasonable and don’t fool people, no one will complain.
The Shopify Slogan Maker might be a great inspiration for people facing creative blockers. It’s not a recruitment tool and you need to search for a bit until you find something that works as well as modify it. But some of the slogans do a pretty good job.
. . .
You will never know if your subject line works unless you test it. Try different options, iterate, and see which ones have the highest opening or response rate.
Ask your colleagues and hiring teams about their opinions and ideas, and spice up your subject lines even more.
Have fun inventing different lines and enjoy gaining an advantage in your sourcing efforts!