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

Candidate Generation and Nurturing recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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