Email Marketing For Recruiters – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Twenty years ago, no one could have predicted how the internet and the use of Email have revolutionized the way that recruiters recruit today. It’s no longer a question of whether or not to use the technology; it’s a question of using the technology effectively to help your business. One of the biggest growth industries over the last ten year has been firms specializing in mass email marketing. They make it simple. Send them your list, send them what you want to email out and they do the rest. This may be all well and good for large marketing campaigns but these firms are still a pricey and time consuming option for the every day recruiter that merely wants to let applicants in his database know that he’s got a new job to fill.

Luckily, most recruiting software has jumped on the bandwagon of providing embedded or associated software options for doing mass mailings straight from your database. So now instead of a long and expensive process to send out mass quantities of emails at a time, it’s merely the click of a couple of buttons and you can reach thousands of people with your message. But now the question is – is this a good idea?

If you haven’t already embarked on the email marketing bandwagon and even if you do it all the time, here are some good, bad and ugly things to keep in mind.

The Good

No question about it, mass email marketing has made a recruiter’s job easier. There are some very big upsides to being able to reach large numbers of applicants quickly and effectively.

1. You no longer have to call hundreds of candidates to determine their interest in a position and mass email marketing is also a great way to search for perspective clients.

2. Most likely if you have a resume for a candidate, they WANT to hear from you and get your emails about available positions.

3. Most recruiting software products already incorporate the ability to mass email marketing quickly and easily directly from your database. If yours does not, maybe it’s time to look for a new recruiting software product that does.

4. Occasionally you may want to do a large scale marketing email and mail houses that do mass mailings for you can collect metrics that can be invaluable in determining if your message is getting through. Many of them can assemble data on how many of your emails get read, how many of the read messages result in click-throughs to your website, and other helpful information. You’ll pay for it so you have to do the cost-benefit analysis of using a third party.

The Bad

People don’t like to get mass emails that look like mass emails. Personalization is the key.

1. Look for email marketing tools that allow you to do merge fields like the old style mail merge letters you used to do out of MS Word. People are far more likely to read an email the looks like it only came to them and contains their specific information. For instance an email that starts out as “Dear Fred, Since you have experience as a Press Engineer, this job looks like a good fit for you” is far more likely to grab someone’s attention than an email that starts out with “Check out this job”.

2. Make sure that each email you send goes out as a separate email to the recipient. There’s nothing worse than getting a form letter that is generic and went to “undisclosed recipients”. You’re also less likely to be tagged a spammer with individual emails.

3. For many recruiting professionals, writing is not their primary skill. Make sure any emails you send are proofed thoroughly (yes, this means spell checking!) so that a typo doesn’t make you look bad. There is nothing worse than spotting a mistake AFTER you’ve just clicked that button to send an email to 300 people! Be sure to away from lingo and acronyms related to recruiting in your writing too. Keep a professional tenor in all email correspondence.

The Ugly

Let’s face it. You’re not the only one out there sending emails to your customer base. On any given day between 81% and 88% of all emails world wide are spam and the message you just sent out may be considered to be part of that cesspool. If your message doesn’t get through to your recipient, all of your efforts are for nothing.

Worse than having a bad email address, which you find out right away, your email may be blocked and you may never know it. Email providers and mail server managers are constantly trying to get ahead of the curve by blocking unwanted, malicious or virus laden emails. Because of the load it puts on email servers world-wide, when an email is blocked as potential spam, nothing gets back to the sender telling you that you’ve been blocked.

If you do get blocked it’s possible to have your entire company’s email blocked if you wind up on one of the spam lists. It is no fun to try to get off of those lists either!

Here are some ways to help assure that your email isn’t blocked and that you don’t get tagged as a spammer.

1. Know what spam filters look for. You would be surprised at what some junk email filters consider to be spam. One of the most widely used Email Clients, Microsoft Outlook, uses specific words and combinations of words. “More info” “visit” and “$” in an email can get you canned as spam. So that “job available with a salary of $50,000. For more info visit our website or call…..” line in your email could mean your message never gets to its intended recipient. For more details about the Outlook spam filter, see this link:

2. Know if you have limitations on your mail server for outbound emails. Most people don’t realize that shared email hosting providers like GoDaddy limit the number of outbound emails that can be sent from an account within a 24 hour period. If you send out an emailing to 250 people that may be your limit for that day and you may have your outbound email stopped for the rest of that 24 hour period.

3. Create your email so that it doesn’t get caught for pictures and other content. A lot of mail servers block emails with pictures embedded in the content. An easy way around this is to store your email images on your web server, preferably in a folder separate from website images (e.g. not in the root images folder). You’ll want to make sure that these images remain on your website for a while too. Sometimes people refer back to emails weeks or months after you’ve sent them out.

4. Add SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records to your DNS setup if you’re sending mail from a mail server that is not exclusively for your domain. Most shared email hosts like Go Daddy and Network solutions use shared outbound mail servers that don’t show they are specifically coming from your domain name. SPF records are quickly becoming standard entries that mail servers look for to verify the email server your email is coming from is a legitimate sender for your email domain. Contact your email provider to create these entries and to see if your email setup is configured properly.

5. Add opt out messages to all mass emails you send out and be creative about it. Some spam filters are actually blocking emails based on the word “unsubscribe” in the content of the email. Use new and different words or methods so that people can opt out of your mailing list.



Kenneth Peck is the president of BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc. which provides staffing software to professional recruiting firms. BlackDog’s flagship product, Gopher for Recruiters, is designed specifically for the executive search industry. Gopher has become the leading recruitment tool of choice for recruiters wanting to dramatically increase productivity through effective applicant and resume tracking and allows instant access to crucial candidate and client data. In the Gopher product, Blackdog has married the science of development to the science of recruiting. But BlackDog is also heavily committed to the skills and techniques of recruiting. Free distribution of recruiting aides is one of the cornerstones of how Blackdog helps recruiters do recruiting. “The Recruiter’s Handbook” is a helpful free guide for anyone in the business of recruiting and can be downloaded from by clicking the link labeled “Free Recruiting handbook”. While you’re there, check out all of the other recruiting tips and resources to help you become a better recruiter.

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