An email is often the first interaction between you and a candidate. Within just a few short lines, you have to clearly convey who you are and why you're reaching out to them. If your email is poorly written, a candidate may be turned off and decide not to respond. However, by following a checklist and using email templates, you can ensure that your emails will be well-written and effective.

Effective Email Checklist

As a recruiter, you write emails to candidates and clients every day. Even though it may be second nature, errors (such as typos and poor formatting) are unfortunately nevertheless inevitable. While you don't have to refer to it every time, this checklist is intended to help you catch the most common mistakes that people make to ensure that your emails are well organized, well-written and effective.

  • Choose an appropriate subject line.

    Your subject line should be concise and contain only the most relevant information to ensure that the candidate knows exactly what the email is about without having to open it. What’s more, a short subject line is easier to read on a mobile device. An example of a well-written subject line would be “Opening for Content Writer at ABC Company”. In addition, you should avoid using special characters (such as !, #, % and $), as these can cause your emails to be sent to a candidate’s spam folder.

  • Keep your greeting and closing professional.

    Often, an email is the first interaction that you will have with a candidate. For that reason, you should be as professional as possible in how you begin and end your email. For example, using “Hello” in your greeting and “Sincerely” in your closing. After the first email, you should match your greeting and closing to what the other person is using. If they go more informal (such as starting their email with “Hey”) then you can as well. In addition, you should address them by however they sign their email.

  • Verify the email address.

    Many webmail providers (such as Gmail, and Yahoo! Mail) include functions to help streamline the email writing process. These functions can include auto-fill and predictive text, which can be problematic if you’re not paying close attention when addressing an email. For that reason, it is important to double-check the email address to ensure that it is going to the correct individual.

  • Write your email by following these guidelines:
    • Mention why you’re contacting the candidate within the first line.

      Research has shown that your email has less than 10 seconds to grab a person’s attention. The easiest way to do this is by telling them why you wrote the email and why they should keep reading.

    • Be as specific as possible to avoid ambiguity.

      Be as clear and precise as possible to reduce the chance that the person would need you to clarify any information that you’ve shared—saving you time.

    • Be short and concise—the recipient should not have to scroll to keep reading.

      Every email that you write should be short, to the point and contain only the most valuable information. If you notice that you’ve written enough that the email requires a scroll bar, consider setting up a phone call with the candidate instead.

  • Check to make sure your email doesn’t include the following:
    • Humor

      While you may consider yourself to be funny, that may not always come through in your emails. Instead, save your jokes for over the phone or in person.

    • Strong emotions

      You should never write an email when you’re frustrated, angry or upset, as you may regret sending it later. However, if in the moment you still feel like you need to express those feelings, you should instead write the email in a word processor program (such as Word or Notepad) and then delete it after you’ve had a moment to calm down.

    • Idioms (such as “bite off more than you can chew” and “miss the boat”) and/or colloquialisms (such as “wanna” and “you rock”)

      You may be familiar with a particular word or phrase, but that doesn’t mean that the candidate is familiar with it as well. Be as clear and direct as possible in your email to avoid any misunderstandings.

  • Format your email in the following manner to ensure readability:
    • Include a line break between each paragraph.

      If your email contains more than one paragraph, you should include a line break between each.

    • Use bullet points when listing items or instructions.

      If you need a candidate to bring in several items (such as their resume, examples of their work and professional references) or if you need them to follow instructions (such as what they need to accomplish before they can move on to the next step in the recruiting process), use a bulleted list so that the action items are clear.

    • Include links to additional information.

      Rather than outlining everything in your email (such as the day-to-day responsibilities of the position or instructions for how to get to the interview location), include a link where the person can learn more.

  • Proofread.

    Before you send an email, you should read through it in order to catch these common mistakes:

    • Misspelled names
    • Incorrect words (such as confusing there, their and they’re)
    • Vague words (such as good, nice and very)
    • Too many words

Email Templates

Most likely, as a recruiter, there are several kinds of emails that you regularly write, and each one probably has your own personal touch. The following email templates are written in a professional manner and are intended to provide you with a framework with which to write more personal emails. Here are templates for the most common emails used in recruiting:

Email to an active candidate:

Subject line: Thank you for your interest in [POSITION TITLE]


After reviewing your application materials for the [POSITION TITLE] position, we feel that you might be a good fit and would like to schedule some time to chat. What is your availability on [MONTH/DAY]? Thank you for all your time and I look forward to hearing from you.




Email to a passive candidate:

Subject line: Opening for a [POSITION TITLE] at a [DESCRIPTION OF CLIENT’S BUSINESS] (Example: Opening for a Graphics Designer at a technology magazine)


My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m with [YOUR AGENCY]. I saw your profile on [SOCIAL MEDIA OR JOB BOARD], and was impressed by your skills and experience in [PARTICULAR FIELD OR INDUSTRY].

I have a client who is looking for a [POSITION TITLE] to join their team and I believe that you would be a great fit. They’re currently working on exciting projects such as [DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT].

If you feel that this role would be something that you would be interested in, let’s set up a time to talk and I can answer any questions that you may have. Thank you for all your time and I look forward to hearing from you.




Email about scheduling an interview:

Subject line: Available interview times


[CLIENT’S NAME] would like to schedule a [PHONE, SKYPE, IN-PERSON] interview with you for the [POSITION TITLE] position. The interview will be with [NAME OF INDIVIDUAL(S) AND POSITION TITLE(S)] and should roughly take [LENGTH OF TIME]. Here are the available time slots:





Let me know which one works best for you.




Email about job offer:

Subject line: [CLIENT’S NAME] offer


Based upon your application materials and interviews, [CLIENT’S NAME] would like to offer you the [POSITION TITLE] position. If you accept the offer, you will receive:




In order to formally accept the offer, please sign and date the attached letter and email it back by [MONTH/DAY]. Thank you for all your time and we look forward to you joining the [CLIENT’S NAME] team.




Email notifying a candidate about not being offered the position:

Subject line: Your application for [POSITION TITLE]


I would like to thank you for your interest in the [POSITION TITLE] position. We had a number of talented and qualified applicants, and after careful deliberation, we have decided to go with another candidate. We will keep your information on file for consideration in future openings. Thank you for all your time and we hope to have the chance to talk with you again.




How an ATS can Encourage Email Etiquette

Designed to automate your recruiting process and dramatically reduce your time-to-hire, your applicant tracking system (ATS) should help facilitate quick and efficient email communication between you and your candidates. With an ATS, you can standardize emails and streamline their distribution to candidates and clients to reduce the amount of time you spend writing them.

While almost all applicant tracking systems support some form of email integration, not all integrations offer the same functions. The most beneficial ATS email integrations include the following functions:

  • Syncs to your existing email account.
  • Automatically records all email activity, enabling you to view your conversations in one central location.
  • Enables you to send personalized mass emails.
  • Tracks statistics like opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes.
  • Enables you to create custom email templates.

If you’re curious about what features the CATS email integration offers, you can view our features page here.

Be as Charming in Their Inbox as you are in Person

Email is one of the most popular ways for recruiters to communicate with candidates. A poorly-written email can negatively impact a candidate's interest in the opportunity, whereas a well-written email could arouse enthusiasm for a job. By following a checklist and using email templates, you are able to ensure that your emails will be well-written and effective.