How to Write Emails (and Follow-Ups) Software Developers Want to Read

Software Developer roles are becoming increasingly harder to fill, but if you’ve been recruiting in tech for a minute – this is old news. Not only are there more roles than people to fill them, (there are 223,000 open roles in the US, 91% of them being outside of Silicon Valley) but folks in tech are also getting increasingly hard to get a hold of. Hard stop. If we can’t pique the interest of the person we want to chat with, how can we grow our team?

For the past two years, I’ve been navigating my way through the tech world. Started with sourcing, now I’m here. Where’s here?

Oh, happy you asked. I’ve made 6 placements in the last 5 months and I want to share with you the tips and tricks I used to do it. Did I mention this was RPO style?

Understand your team – sit with them, ask questions, become a growth partner, instead of just a recruiter. I love the questions compiled in this article by Top Echelon! Dig deeper than the JD.

Become a part of the team – this is a given if you’re an internal recruiter, but for you agency/consulting folks, ask about using their company email and sitting in the office one day a week. Not only does this help you understand the team and company you’re recruiting for, but it gives the company brand a better look and improved candidate experience. 

Do your research – when I tell people I only use humanpredictions to source, I get a wide-eyed stare. Software engineers are abandoning their LinkedIns left and right. Bombarded with spam, it’s easier to let sleeping dogs lie then try to tame them. So how do I navigate this? I meet them where they’re at. Because humanpredictions aggregates public data from dozens of sites into one neat little profile, it’s easy to find the top contributing Ruby devs in the Chicago area that are a member of the Girl Develop It meetup group and have also given a conference talk. Talk about specific, huh?

This is all great, but what are you going to do with that info? Here’s where the road forks. 

Make recruiting human again! You’re reaching out to a person, not a profile.

Before you revert to a templated message, I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I reaching out to them for this role and why would they be interested in talking with me? 
  2. Based on their experience, what is relevant to the company/role I’m recruiting for? Is there overlap in the company type (Fintech, Ins, Product – you get it)? Or do they just look like a leader you want the chance to work with? 
  3. After reading their profile, do they sound like they’d appreciate a friendly connection email or a more formal introduction? I love using Humantic for communication insights I can use when I craft my personal messages. A little goes a long way! 
  4. Great insight from Amy Miller, a Senior Tech Recruiter at Google asks “How would this MAKE ME FEEL if I was on the receiving end? If the answer is “like a number”, then I should probably rethink before I hit send.”
I promise you the 5 minutes you spend personalizing your first message will not go unnoticed.

Remember, the day you plant the seed isn’t the day you eat the fruit – recruit for the long haul and your current/future self/company/team will thank you!

This is all great – but how can someone possibly have the time to source, send personal messages, and juggle the thousand other tasks on their plate? 

Obviously, personalization is ideal, but it’s not always scalable. So, how can we increase the quantity without sacrificing quality? Automated follow-ups. Yep, no more manual bumps.

Let’s take you all through an example:

Here’s how I filled a Lead Front End Role over the span of two months with 137 unique outreaches, a 44.5% response rate, and a 12.4% phone screen rate.

Using Intersellar, an email automation tool, I created a sequence of five emails. This is what I found:

A/B testing the subject line, using the current company of the person I’m reaching out to gets a higher open rate, but the response rate of the role itself has a higher response rate (note, the fact it was a remote role can be an outlier, however, this individual was expected to sit in the office one day a week in the suburbs of Chicago. Seems easy, but not.)

Of these 139 (two of the emails bounced) emails sent, I did two semi-personalized batches for the folks who weren’t super active online. One batch of people who were a member of a local meetup group, and the second for people who contributed to a specific GitHub Repository. The remaining folks received a very tailored message that was not intended for anyone other than them. 

Ok cool, Linds, but how do I do this? It sounds like more work then it actually is, so check out some tips I put together on intentional sourcing and calendar blocking – you can read that here!

The key to successful placements is allowing yourself to be authentic, yes we have a job to do but we don’t have to take it so seriously. Ask the right questions, focus your time on the right individuals, and show yourself grace when you make mistakes (I’m guilty of not always practicing what I preach, but hey I’m human). 

At the end of the day, we’re in the business of people. Connection and empathy is our superpower. 

One thought on “How to Write Emails (and Follow-Ups) Software Developers Want to Read”

  1. I love this article, especially the 5 email sequence. I plan on working with my team on this tactic. I also couldnt agree more with the trating people like people instead of transactions. Thanks for the insight Lindsey

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