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The science behind best-performing recruitment subject lines

August 16, 2023

If your subject line is unexciting, looks spammy, or infracts email etiquettes there is a good chance that your email will never get read. The subject line is the most important part of the email. Here are a few tips for writing recruitment email subject lines

Over one-third of the recipients decide whether or not to open the email based on the subject line alone. Here are a few practical tips that increase the chance of candidates opening the email you send:

1. Personalization is key ✌️

Make the candidates feel special. General messages and templates don’t work! Show them that you’ve spent enough time and have done your homework and that you’re genuinely interested in talking to them. Keeping your subject lines and message personal is the best way to achieve this.

What you should be doing?

  • Mentioning the candidate’s name in the subject line increases your open rate by as much as 26%
  • Subject lines that include the company name perform significantly better than those without. The theory is that for smaller brands it’s vague enough to get candidates to want to learn more and for larger brands that have a compelling and heavily recognizable brand the lack of context and curiosity makes it a curveball to receive.
  • Mentioning a mutual connection in your subject line will increase your chance of getting a response by as much as 27%. Putting in a referral or mutual connection name functions as an immediate endorsement evoking trust in the candidate.
  • Casual subject lines that mention “coffee” resulted in 9% and 17% open and reply rates respectively
  • If you’re hiring for sales then include the job title in the subject line. Including job-titles resulted in a 9% and 17% increase in open and reply rates respectively for sales roles. Caution! Avoid job titles for all other categories. Categories such as engineering, healthcare, computer & math show significantly lower engagement with emails containing job-titles.
  • Words like let’s connect, dream, acquisition, help us build, interview, brand, your skills, quick chat, greetings from in the subject line tend to have positive effects on email engagement.

What you should be avoiding?

  • Avoid mentioning “who” in the subject lines. Emails containing “who” in the subject lines saw a 5% and 23% drop in open rates and reply rates respectively.
  • Avoid capitalizing words in subject lines. Emails containing capital words saw a 4% and 24% drop in open rates and reply rates respectively.
  • Avoid mentioning compensation details in the subject lines. Subject lines containing salary information saw an 8% and 27% drop in open rates and reply rates respectively.
  • Emails containing the job title see an average drop in 4% and 11% drop in open rates and reply rates respectively. The drop is particularly significant for senior roles; entry-level roles are the only exception.
  • Words like power, don’t miss, resume, career move, next career move, direct-hire, your next career, next career, make a difference in the subject line tend to have negative effects on email engagement.

Here are a few examples:

Here’s an actual email from a recruiter at Facebook to a potential candidate for an engineering role. Given that Facebook has a good employer brand it was smart of the recruiter to use the company name in the subject line. The subject mentions the department name and not the exact job title for which they are hiring for:

2. Brevity wins 💪

A study from MailerMailer shows that longer subject lines have lower open and click rates than those that are shorter. A succinct version is a lot easier to consume and entices the candidate to open that email to learn more about what’s being pitched. State why the candidate should be opening the email in as few words as possible.

The following data shows the correlation between the subject line lengths and their corresponding open and click rates:

The majority of emails are opened on mobile devices as shown below, which typically show fewer subject line characters. You don’t want a broken experience because your subject line is too long. Make sure you always keep the characters count below 50. The following chart depicts the open rate by device:

3. Beware of SPAM trigger words ❗️

All emails will have to pass through SPAM filters. These filters are built natively within Gmail and Outlook and they scan all incoming messages. SPAM filters cause your email to skip recipients’ inboxes and land straight in their SPAM box. These filters assign points to SPAM words in the subject line and body of an email. If the points exceed a certain threshold, then the email is considered spam.

Avoid using words like free, make money, earn $, confirm, join, opportunity , and assistance in your subject lines. Also, steer clear of using capital words in subject lines and avoid using excessive exclamation marks!!!!!

Here is an excellent resource from Hubspot that contains a consolidated list of SPAM trigger words that you be should avoiding. Avoiding these by no means guarantees that your email will make it to your candidate’s inbox. Content filtering is just one criterion for SPAM scores, your sender reputation, and engagement metrics are much more important.

4. Start a dialogue with the candidate 💬

Focus on building relationships and starting a conversation with candidates before ‘selling’ the job opportunity. Subject lines framed as questions perform better. One of the best ways to break the ice and start a dialogue with your candidate is to include a question in your subject line. A few examples:

5. Introduce scarcity and create urgency ⌛️

Scarcity is largely efficacious because of a cognitive bias known as loss aversion.

It’s demonstrated that humans are hardwired to put a more subjective value on loss than on gain and thus strongly prefer to avoid losses instead of acquiring gains.

6. Appeal to what they value the most 🌟

More than ever candidates are thinking about a company’s culture and values. They’re weighing whether the company fosters a positive environment and whether its values align with their own.

“Highly qualified candidates are prioritizing a positive and inspiring company culture over pay or benefits. They want to work somewhere that helps them grow not only professionally but personally.” says Suzanne Rice, director, global franchise development for MRINetwork.

Mention the “greater good” that your company is focussed on & appeal to the candidate’s values. Think about your company’s mission and values, and how you can effectively convey these succinctly in the subject line. A few examples:

7. Intrigue them with your subject line 🤔

Write subject lines that drive curiosity. Tease candidates with the subject line and give them the details once they open up the message. You achieve this by keeping the titles equivocal, uncertain, or vague.

8. Use words that inspire action 😎

Use more powerful words in the subject lines and use words that inspire action. When candidates are presented with powerful verbs, you make them feel both empowered and challenged. Try using words like build, lead, define, disrupt, re-define, and re-invent that is more riveting and compelling. A few examples:

9. Use flattery effectively 😍

Make an offer they can’t refuse. Flatter candidates with your knowledge of their achievements and genuinely tell them why and how well they will fit in at your organization. No one can resist a compliment, after all. A few examples:

10. Make it creative 💯

Here are a few of the more creative email headlines that may not necessarily subscribe to the tips above, but have been proven to work well nonetheless:

  • Using the word photo in the headline has proven to increase interest by 59%
  • [bracketed] explanations of what the content is can increase interest by 112%
  • Humans are more interested in others than they are in concepts. When possible use who rather than why in subject lines
  • If you’re sending a video then use the word video in the email subject line, they’ll know that they’re getting something extra special from you. With the usage of the word video in an email subject line, open rates rose 7% to 13%.



Amidst today’s noisy digital world, brands find it challenging to create meaningful connections with their customer base and target audience. Getting the target consumer’s attention and persuading them to buy from you gets even trickier. Hence, content marketing has become more crucial than ever for brands to attract, educate, and retain customers.

Content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be. Consistent, high-quality, and engaging content impacts your audience’s decisions through education and persuasion.

Depending on your business goals and requirements, the role of Content Marketers you hire will vary. The primary responsibilities revolve around forming consistent brand messaging and deciding upon a unique and identifiable voice, style, and pitch across various distribution channels.

From raising brand awareness to attracting a relevant audience to your website, boosting social media presence and engagement, generating leads, and building brand loyalty – content marketing drives all the growth efforts for your brand. When done effectively, it can help you:

  • Build positive brand awareness
  • Make your audience stick around for longer
  • Get better traction on social media
  • Gain more trust of your audience than ever
  • Generate qualified leads
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Boost business visibility with SEO
  • Position your brand as an authority
  • Cultivate loyal brand fans

While content marketing is a broad role with numerous areas of expertise involved, it’s vital to thoroughly understand your company’s current marketing goals and the related requirements. In this blog, we will dive deep into the step-by-step approach to hiring a Content Marketer.

What is The Role of a Content Marketer?

A Content Marketer must be deeply passionate about telling your brand’s story to the world. The objective is to educate and nurture the target audience to establish brand authority using thought-leadership and drive more people to buy from you.

As a candidate is expected to be a mediator between the brand and the target audience, they are primarily responsible for planning, creating, and sharing valuable content to grow their company’s awareness and engagement to bring more business.

To be more specific, the role of a Content Marketer requires a perfect blend of creativity and attention to detail in an individual. It’s a balancing role, as they need to ensure creating content that resonates and strengthens business relationships, using strategies that position your business as authentic and problem-solving.

Take a look at the core responsibilities of a Content Marketer that most businesses expect them to take over:

  • Research and Competitor Analysis: The first and foremost step to creating a content marketing strategy is effective initial research. It not only helps a Content Marketer understand the nuances of the industry through competitor analysis but also study and understand the target audience thoroughly.
  • Building Content Marketing Plans: Once the competitor research and target audience analysis is done, a Content Marketer needs to work on the different plans for all the business objectives, targeted channels, segments of the audience, and the bigger marketing strategy. A content marketing plan typically consists of:
  • Specific goals along with a pre-decided timeline
  • Various channels to be targeted for content distribution
  • Types of content to be created
  • Budget for the entire staff, outsourced services, and paid promotion (Collabs and Ads)
  • Creating Editorial Calendar: Creating, managing, and maintaining a content calendar is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a Content Marketer. It is a centralized visual document that enables effective collaboration among the marketing team and helps Content Marketers ensure on-time production and delivery.
  • Content Creation: Once the strategy and calendar have been approved by relevant stakeholders, Content Marketers need to do the on-ground work. This task usually depends on the scale of your company and content marketing strategy. Suppose an organization already has a set of writers, then the Content Marketer doesn’t need to create content by themselves.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Producing quality content that educates your target audience and resonates with them, isn’t enough. You need to optimize your content creation to make it search engine-friendly. While most companies need a dedicated SEO specialist for keyword research and planning, Content Marketers need to closely collaborate with them and should be well-versed in the basics of SEO.

While the practices discussed above are primary responsibilities of a Content Marketer, they also need to be proactive with

  • Content editing and ensuring adherence to a certain style guide    
  • Continous publishing and distributing content
  • Measuring and analyzing performance

How to Hire a Content Marketer: Step-By-Step?

Content marketing has become the key to driving growth for businesses. Unlike a few years ago, it’s not possible now to get away with a one-person team for content marketing. You need deeply trained individuals for specialist roles.

Let’s now dive into the step-by-step approach of hiring a Content Marketer. But before you even source your first candidate, you should have a clear expectation of the skillset and experience to look out for top content marketing candidates.

Top Must-Have Skills in a Content Marketer

Apart from having relevant industry experience, a good Content Marketer must possess the following skills.

  1. Excellent Writing Skills

A Content Marketer’s prior skillset should be writing excellent attention-grabbing content. From long-form blog posts to website copy, ad copies, social media content, video scripts, emails, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, and more – a Content Marketer should be able to adapt to the business’s specific requirements and create quality content.

  1. Audience Research

Identifying user behavior is vital for framing the story in the right direction. So a Content Marketer must know how to identify and analyze the needs and pain points to develop a buyer persona. User research can be performed through social listening, relevant communities, in-person calls with customers, analyzing sales call recordings, and more.

  1. Keyword Research

Creating valuable thought-leadership content isn’t enough. Researching the right set of keywords is an essential skill to further educate your target audience on the Whys, Hows and Whats of your business, and have your website rank on Google.

  1. Data-oriented Content

Content that’s not backed by relevant data points does not build enough trust. Experienced content marketing professionals would always prefer data over hollow claims. No doubt that only data doesn’t help a content piece succeed, but it’s essential..

  1. Project Management, Planning, and Publishing –

A Content Marketer is also expected to break down and analyze the pain points to turn keyword research into content ideas. So a professional must be able to identify and solve content gaps.

Further, they must know how to create a content calendar, decide the different types of content, and choose relevant platforms to publish and schedule marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Promotion

Creating a valuable content piece, for example - an ebook, isn’t enough. Your content marketing team needs to promote it proactively for bringing enough attention and engagement.

  1. Performance Analysis

Setting up goals and plans is one thing, but continuously executing, measuring, and analyzing content performance is another. A Content Marketer should always be monitoring key performance parameters to figure out the upcoming plans with the necessary updates required.

Not to forget - stakeholders and marketing heads need the performance reports regularly. So Content Marketers must be able to collect and comprehend all the data to make it worth presenting.

Step 1: Create a Candidate Persona

Let’s sort out the priorities first, and decide the type of content marketing candidates you want to recruit. From exceptional research skills to storytelling, communication skills, relationship building, audience engagement, and more capabilities must be comprehensively considered. Identify and break down the skill requirements for Content Marketers:

  • What are the educational qualification criteria for the role?
  • How many years and what type of work experience do you want in candidates?
  • What are the specific skill sets you’re looking for?
  • Which industry experience would you primarily prefer?
  • Are there any tools your candidates should be hands-on with?
  • What are some personality traits that will fit your company?
  • Where do they look for a new job?
  • What are their career and life goals?

Forming a candidate persona by answering all these questions would ensure you are not shooting in the dark while sourcing candidates. Further, it helps you determine the traits of the ideal candidate, and plan your sourcing and recruitment strategy further.

Step 2: Document the Role Requirements and Decide on Your Recruiting Process

Next step is determining your role requirements suiting primarily to organizational needs and business goals. A content marketing professional is expected to own the entire content strategy, creation, and distribution. But what about your business’s unique requirements?

You might need someone comfortable with frequently creating long-form content pieces like blogs, ebooks, or whitepapers, or creating engaging video content based on your industry trends.

Talk to various relevant stakeholders for seeking the complete detailed company requirements for the role.

Before you enter the recruitment funnel, outline your talent acquisition process. Identify various strategies, channels, and other informational insights you would need – and maintain a collaborative document.

As you update the tactics and tweak your recruitment process for meeting hiring requirements optimally – keep your document up to date.

Step 3: Prepare a Content Marketing Job Description

Once you have finalized the role requirements with respect to your current content marketing goals and team, you can start sourcing candidates. Preparing the job description is the first task you’ll need to do.

Here are the necessary components you must have in your job description:

  • Job Title: The position you’re looking to fill. For example - Content Marketing Specialist or Content Marketing Manager.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: An outline of the candidate’s day-to-day activities. From ideation to implementation and the impact on the organization, everything should be covered.  
  • Skill Requirements: Skills and abilities a candidate must have to perform the job successfully.
  • Perks and Benefits: The compensation details, perks of the job, and any other benefits.
  • About the Company: Why should a candidate consider working with your company?

Content Marketer Job Description Template


The job of a Content Marketer is to perform competitor research, create user persona, and write plagiarism-free content for blog articles, social media, and the company website. They need to stay updated on the latest SEO techniques.


  • Develop, write and deliver persuasive copy for the website, email marketing campaigns, sales collateral, videos, and blogs
  • Build and manage an editorial calendar; coordinate with other content crafters to ensure standards
  • Measure impact and perform analysis to improve KPIs
  • Include and optimize all content for SEO
  • Contribute to the localization of processes and content to ensure consistency across regions
  • Review and implement process changes to drive operational excellence


  • Proven content marketing, copywriting, or SEO experience
  • Working knowledge of content management systems like WordPress
  • A well-maintained portfolio of published articles, blogs, copy, etc
  • Proven experience of working under pressure to deliver high quality output in a short span of time
  • Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications, Google Suite
  • Fluency in English or any other required language

Soft Skills

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • The ability to handle multiple projects concurrently
  • Strong attention to detail and the ability to multi-task projects and deliverables

Step 4: Source Candidates

Once you have the tailored job description in hand, it’s now time to do the groundwork and source candidates. Create an attractive job post to promote your job across job boards and social channels.

  • Begin with what to expect from the role at your company?
  • Why should candidates apply for the position?
  • Highlight the growth opportunities
  • State the company vision and mission
  • Briefly describe the recruitment process

Prepare an impactful job post and also execute paid job ad campaigns if required. The next step would be promoting your jobs on various job boards and hiring platforms. You can leverage the following platforms for hiring Content Marketers:

  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Instahyre
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Monster
  • GlassDoor
  • CareerBuilder

Not to forget - almost 3/4th of the workforce includes passive candidates, so you cannot miss out on passive talent sourcing as well. Reach out to qualified candidates on communities, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook to offer them suitable opportunities.

Step 5: Evaluate Candidates and Interview Shortlisted Ones

Once you have filtered candidates based on their experience and skills listed on their profile, it’s time to evaluate them deeply. Ask them to create a content strategy for your website, along with a value-adding content piece like a small blog. The topic of the article must fall within the scope of the strategy.

Interview the candidates whose profiles got shortlisted. Keep in mind the parameters covering skills, relevant experience, and personality traits of candidates.

Step 5: Make the Hire

Reach out to selected Content Marketers and communicate about the compensation.

Further, extend your offer letter to all the candidates who have been selected. In the case of passive sourcing, extend to only those who were aligned with you on the compensation and are willing to move forward.

Ensure having a deadline for the joining date and mention the necessary documents required by your recruiting team.

  • Get the required documents and set up the offer agreements with candidates
  • Organize an orientation session for the onboarded candidates
  • Introduce them to the entire team and the marketing teams they will be working with
  • Guide the new candidates about your company management tools and communication channels
  • Provide candidates with forms for benefits and perks like Health Insurance.

Supercharge Your Hiring for Content Marketer with Nurturebox

Inbound candidate sourcing doesn’t work effectively anymore. Do you also find challenges in closing quality candidates through job posts even after spending on ads?

Don’t worry, passive candidate sourcing can be an optimal solution for hiring top content marketing candidates.

Nurturebox is a one-stop talent sourcing and engagement platform which is powered by automation. Here’s how you can source product managers from LinkedIn using Nurturebox:

  • Install the Nurturebox Chrome plugin and sign up.
  • On your LinkedIn profile, start sourcing Content Marketers with boolean searches stating the required experience from targeted locations and including other criteria
  • Add the qualified candidates to your sourcing campaign pipeline with just a click
  • Automate the candidate engagement through email, Whatsapp and LinkedIn direct messages for reaching out and nurturing candidates at scale.

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