Note : this article is based on a collaborative and open source guide on tech recruitment. If you would like more information about HireSweet and/or to participate in the collaborative guide: contact@hiresweet.com.

The first message you send to a potential candidate is crucial. If it is sent to the right person (has the right skills) at the right time (is open to the market) and contains clear information; you maximize your chances of getting an answer. This message should enable you to trigger a recruitment process, it is therefore essential to build it carefully.

“I believe that the job of recruiter is halfway between sales and marketing. The product for sale becomes the company, the team.” Ophély Nhem — Growth Manager @ Zyl

Tip #1: Customize!

A standardized message gives the impression that you have not been interested in the person to whom you are writing. The more personalized your message is, the greater your chances of success. Prepare a standard template to save time and always allow for customization. Take the time to do this for each candidate : discuss past projects, work experience of particular interest to you, a shared passion, etc. Feminize your message if you are addressing a female candidate!

Tip #2: iterate!

Write one or several messages and test them by measuring the response rate of each message. Improve your messages as you search. You can also change the subject of the email or the sender of the message.

When reading your email, a candidate asks himself three questions that you should ideally answer to capture their interest and curiosity:

  1. Who are you? ➡️ The employer brand
  2. What’s in it for me? ➡️ The technical challenge
  3. What’s now? ➡️ Perks and figures

Not all the information has to be in the body of the email, and you can keep details in PS (advantages, links, stack description).

1 — Who are you? // The employer brand

Unless the opposite is obvious, assume that the candidates you contact do not know you. You will first have to reassure them and then motivate them to engage in a discussion.

  • Introduce yourself. What is your role in the company, your company and your product? If you have a shared knowledge or experience, mention it.
  • Present your progress. Give growth indicators (e.g. number of clients, users, team growth, DAU, repeat, etc.) to show movement.
  • Have a good showcase. The candidate will do his due diligence, facilitate his work by preparing the most important information : link to the landing page, press, investors, fundraising, contests won etc.
  • Financing. If there is any doubt at all, be reassuring on this point and talk about your investors, your income, your grants.

2 — What’s in it for me? // The technical challenge

Present your technical stack and your global ecosystem, while presenting the points likely to evolve. Do not go into detail if the points are not differentiating: it does not matter if you use Trello rather than Jira.

  • Present the position as an opportunity to progress and learn rather than a list of required skills. (Strong arguments: Possibility of training in new popular technologies , optimization challenge due to a high volume of data, data science/machine learning dimension, training of other team members, etc)
  • Present concrete missions that could be assigned upon the person’s arrival or that have been carried out in the last few weeks.
  • Go into detail, if possible quantified. Avoid at all costs overly generic missions such as “Working on the back end of our application”, “Maintaining our application”, “Improving UX”.

3 — What’s now? // Perks and figures

Your future candidate wants to have information about the proposed position. Be as transparent as possible to save time later on. This part can be in “PS” at the end of the message.

  • Indicate where you work and whether or not you are open to remote work.
  • Indicate the profit-sharing and other benefits.
  • Never announce “salary according to profile” and announce a range preferably. You have enough information to estimate the expected salary to within 20%. You will save time if the candidate falls too far outside your salary range.

Bonus: Red flags

Red flags will halve your response rate and the best candidates will not reply to you.

  • Avoid superlatives (“the best startup in the world”, “a revolutionary product”) and overused generic formulas (“a team of killers”, “a fast growing startup”). Focus on facts, give numerical examples.
  • Do not contact in a random and impersonal way (“Madam, Sir”), using a vocabulary that is too professional (“being a force of proposal”, “a professional opportunity”) or on the contrary too cliché (“we are looking for a programming rockstar “, “our future gem”).
  • Do not ask for a CV / cover letter. It is up to you to do your research, and if you have any questions about any part of the experience, you can discuss it later.