Tim Sackett

2 min read

Recruiting Tactics

Subject Lines Guaranteed to Work

As recruiters, we love a great subject line! We love them because we have this belief that the subject line of our email or another type of message will get a candidate to open and reply. And actually, that’s true! 

There’s a lot of marketing research around why someone opens a message. The chart below shows why an individual makes the decision to open a message: 

opening an emailThis data makes complete sense, right? If you know the person, you are much more likely to open a message, and after that, the next main reason is what is being told to you in the subject line. The subject line should tell the recipient exactly why they should open the message or quickly just delete and move on. 

Scientifically based on the data above, I think I’ve created the most responded to subject line of all time! But it only works for me, I’m doubtful it would work for you! What is it? 


Yes, my last name in the subject line is by far the best subject line for a response that I use! Why does it work? Well, if you know me, then the data gives me a 45% shot you might open it. Also, if you don’t know me, someone just sent you their last name, which makes you think like you probably know me, but you forgot! Either way, the response rate I get with this super simple subject line is over 80%! 

Does this work for straight recruiting? Yes, but not at the same level as I’m getting, but it is worth you testing it out. 

This simple subject line works because it’s probably the opposite of what most people send. We put so much thought and effort into the subject line that often they sound like a recruiter or marketing or sales or mostly just something too close to spam! 

What are my other favorite recruiting subject lines? 

  • “Go Green!” – Okay, I’m a Michigan State Spartan fan, so if someone sent me a message with “Go Green,” I would 100% open it. So, “Go Green” isn’t really your subject line. It would be something similar for whatever college or sports team your candidate supports. How do you know what team they support? You do a bit of recruiting due diligence and figure it out! 
  • “I’ve got an outstanding career opportunity for you!” – Just kidding, this subject line sucks! Never use this! 
  • “This job pays $87,000” – This one works because even if the person makes more than $87,000, our curiosity wants to see who is paying this salary and where it’s at because we might know someone who isn’t making that much, and we want to pass it on to them. 
  • Famous song lyrics, movie quotes, etc., that the candidate would most likely recognize. – Again, takes a bit of recon work, but let’s say your candidate is a Star Wars fan. Use the subject line, “Do or do not. There is no try!” 
  • “I was referred to you by “pick a name” – Okay, this isn’t my favorite of the favs, but it works! Again, a quick social search of a candidate and you can easily come up with some names of friends, family, co-workers to make this a bit more personal. But, only use first names. So, “I was referred to you by Tim” can be really effective if they have a friend or associate named “Tim.” Now, when the person asks, which “Tim” referred you, you just say, “Oh, Tim in my office, a fellow recruiter I work with, found your profile.” 

Personalization is the key to great subject line open rates! It takes a little more work, but great recruiters put in a little bit of extra work to get great candidates to respond! 

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