Bad To The Bone: Writing Recruiting Subject Lines

I love writing letters. In fact, that’s how my fiance and I went from just friends to more. Yes, that was this decade – four years ago, in fact. So many people roll their eyes and talk about how cheesy and romantic that is when we tell our story. “No one does that,” they say. Yet, here we sit just a few months away from getting married as proof that it has been done.

I think there’s something to that – the fact that we both appreciate a written, thoughtful letter so much more than a 1000 word e-mail or a SnapChat that rambles on about this or that. Don’t get me wrong, we rambled a bit in our letters. However, you can tell there’s intent in how we tell our stories. There’s a thoughtfulness to how our minds would reveal these little idiosyncrasies and personal challenges to each other without the magic of the backspace button.

But the bigger question is this: why don’t people write letters any more? Do they not want romance? Honesty? I think not. People erase, edit and borrow thoughts liberally in the pursuit of a speedy turn-around or to replicate a result. It’s a sad state of affairs. It’s not that people don’t write letters any more, it’s that they don’t take the time to even show they care – at work or home.

The world of recruiting is definitely not immune. In fact, it’s even more pervasive than I ever thought.

You’ve all seen the bad recruiting eMails…

The obvious copy and paste, the blasts. They read like a cold machine, with feigned apologies for inconveniencing you and excitement about a new, hot job. There’s nothing personal. There’s nothing that makes you even want the job. The worst part? Responding feels like an act of desperation.

Where’s the thought, people?  Where is the love?  There are thousands of recruiters using the same terrible subject line and templates expecting better results from minor edits instead of using their brain.

But it all starts with a terrible recruiting subject line…

While romance and seduction don’t need to be part of your recruiting email writing strategy (because that’s creepy), you have to start with the subject line. That’s where your first impression begins – and usually falls flat if you’re copying and pasting the same old stuff.

Here are 3 of my go-to subject line strategies to get candidates and leads to open my emails.

recruiting subject lines

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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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