It often starts so well.
Take this global software business, for instance.
Their glossy website showcases happy employees telling their stories of the fun, relaxed atmosphere.
Their carefully curated social media feeds promote their impressively inclusive leadership team.
They’re listed in the Top 50 Best Places To Work in a recent survey.
So far, so slick.
But when new candidates apply, this is the automated email they receive:
‘Thank you for your interest in this role.
We will revert as quickly as possible regarding next steps.
We thank you for your application and your interest in us.’
Blander than a tofu sandwich, and about as appetising.
Where’s the energy and passion of their employer branding?
And when did their brand get taken over by robots from the 1980s?
The problem with onboarding and recruitment emails
Stiff, stilted, formal emails like these, that don’t reflect the company’s values or culture, can turn off candidates quickly.
Yet cut-and-paste email templates (often downloaded from the internet) are so common throughout the application and onboarding process. Emails so generic they fail to connect on any level:
‘We have concluded that you would be a good fit for the role of Marketing Executive’
‘We are pleased that you are currently considering our job offer for the position of Customer Support Assistant’
‘We are pleased to have you on board.’
Zero warmth and zero personality. And organisations wonder why they lose candidates to the competition!
Personality-led emails can be a powerful differentiator in the war for talent. In a candidate’s market, organisations need to make their emails work harder if they’re to attract and successfully onboard the talent they need. Here are 3 tips to help you send emails that connect and convert.
1. Channel Dolly Parton
Dolly famously said ‘Find out who you are and do it on purpose’. This is great advice when it comes to your email tone of voice.
Make sure HR and marketing are joined up so candidates have a united and consistent experience of your brand. Most larger organisations have a tone of voice guide, but it shouldn’t just be for the marketing team.
Establish the tone you’re aiming for in your onboarding and recruitment emails and make sure your brand’s values are reflected in every email you write, down to the finer details.
For example are you a more formal ‘Dear [candidate]’, or a more relaxed ‘Hi’ or even ‘Hey’?. Do you want to channel a ‘Kind regards’ or a ‘see you soon’ vibe?
2. Beware the tired template
It makes sense practically to use email templates to speed up email writing. But don’t just download them off the internet or use what you’ve always used for the past 3 years without ever reviewing them.
Your templates should feel entirely personal to your organisation – with bespoke tone and content, again for a consistent experience.
Wherever possible, build in room for personalisation. For example, your opening sentence could refer to something current to make it feel less generic (e.g. a recent bank holiday weekend, the weather).
Even better, you can add in specific feedback from interviews e.g. ‘We’re excited to put you forward to the next round of interviews. Sarah particularly loved the answer you gave to her question around project management.’
3. Emails are not the only answer
Email is a great tool, but not the only one available to you. Building voice messages into your candidate process can be a powerful addition to your emails – don’t underestimate the power of a personal touch. We’re drawn to people who feel ‘real’, not to corporate robots.
A 20-second message followed up by an email can be a great differentiator and even a deciding factor for someone to choose your organisation over another. So if you’re over the moon to have someone on board, tell them!
As with all good communication, authenticity, personality and connection should be at the heart of everything you write.
Kim Arnold is a communication expert and the founder of the world’s no.1 email writing training course, Email Engagement.
Kim also works directly with leading organisations to help them connect faster with their stakeholders and get the results they need. Her clients include Accenture, AstraZeneca, Shearman and Sterling and JPMorgan.
Her book ‘Email Attraction: Get What You Want Every Time You Hit Send’ won Highly Commended at the Business Book Awards 2022 and was shortlisted in the Financial Times’ Best Business Books.
Kim is moderating ‘Employer Branding: Why You Must Connect HR and Marketing’ at HRtechX on 22nd June at 10.30am.