Best Practices

Best Practices and Benchmarks for Email Outreach

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

August 23, 2020

Gem recently conducted a webinar on Best Practices and Benchmarks for Recruiting Email Outreach. Here are the questions we couldn't get to in our Q&A.

Webinar Q&A with Steve Bartel and Joe Totten

Last week, our Co-founder and CEO Steve Bartel and our VP of Sales Joe Totten conducted a webinar on Best Practices and Benchmarks for Recruiting Email Outreach. Steve dove deep into best practices based on over a million outreach emails our customers have sent. He then handed the mic over to Joe, who discussed the ways Gem supports email outreach. We closed that webinar out with a Q&A; but we didn’t have time to answer all the questions registrants posed. Here, we’re responding to all of them.

On the Data:

Q: The data says that the average open rate for recruiting emails is 22% and the average click-through rate is around 2%. How do your studies compare? What does Gem do that others do not? 

A: Gem helps recruiting and sourcing teams in many ways; but two primary reasons teams see higher open and click-through rates when using Gem are: 1) Gem automates follow-ups. This means that it’s easier to see those response rates increase over time—without doing any additional work. 2) Gem allows teams to run tests to discover which subject lines and message content resonate best with passive talent. Teams that test will naturally have higher open and click-through rates because they are discovering—and then implementing—their own best-practices.

Q: Have you studied the turnover rate on sourced candidates versus candidates that apply?

A: We don’t have data on retention rates by source. But we do know that sourced candidates are hired at twice the rate of inbound applicants.

On Best Practices:

Q: The reqs I source for (Sales & CX related) often don’t have available emails, forcing me to reach out over InMail rather than email. I've tried many apps without luck. Do you have any tips on how to find personal email addresses that belong to talent in sales and customer engagement roles?

A: Finding emails for tech roles is certainly easier—one of the most common tricks is to look at an engineer’s GitHub profile. But one of the things we’ve found from doing outreach directly to sales folks ourselves is that sales reps don’t tend to mind receiving outreach through work emails as much as tech talent does. Which makes sense: Sales teams are reaching out cold to prospects all day, so it’s a normalized way of communicating. That said, there are some great email providers out there that can help you find work emails. Clearbit is one that I highly recommend; you can get up to 50 work emails for free. And here at Gem, we’re considering more work email integrations specifically for those biz roles.

Q: Is there a situation where Gem would recommend sending an InMail rather than an email to a prospective candidate? For example, in a case where there’s uncertainty about whether we have the right primary email address? 

A: Gem users think about this in two ways. First of all, some of them send multi-channel outreach, where stages 1, 2, and 3 are sent over email; but stages 4 and 5 are sent to InMail in case the email was wrong, or in case the prospect just doesn’t check that inbox anymore. Gem supports those InMail stages. Now, just as we can’t scrape LinkedIn, we can’t automate those InMails for you. But if there’s no response, Gem will notify you that it’s time to send an InMail to the folks who didn’t respond to you over email. So a lot of our customers handle it that way.

The alternative is to try email first, then go to your sequence report where you see how folks engaged with your sequence. From there, you can one-click-add all of the folks who didn’t respond to your email sequence to an InMail sequence. Either way, you get the best of both worlds: Email first, then InMail if you don’t see a response.

Q: Do you have any advice for the sourcing flow when you want to send initial messages through LinkedIn? 

A: Typically we don’t recommend sending the initial message as an InMail. We recommend stages 1-3 as email, and suggest you switch over to InMail only if they don’t reply. Apart from the fact that 90% of candidates prefer to be contacted by email rather than InMail, there’s another reason for this: It’s not possible to automatically track responses for your InMails. So if you choose that route, you’ll be doing a lot of manual recording.

Now, with Gem we built in some guardrails to prevent you from sending automated email follow-ups once someone responds over InMail. So if you wanted to, you could set up stage 1 as an InMail, and then stages 2 and 3 as emails. When the time for email comes around, Gem will prompt you to answer if the person responded to the InMail in the meantime. If yes, you mark that sequence as responded. If no, you can continue with the automated email follow-ups. But because of that extra manual step, we typically recommend sending emails first and tacking on the InMails later—simply because it saves you some time.

Q: Do you recommend ALL CAPS for a subject line?

A: We didn’t specifically analyze this when gathering best practices for this report; but we do know from marketing research and best practices that an all-caps subject line is typically not recommended. We also don’t see our customers use it; and we know they’re following their own set of best practices. Although it might catch the attention of the recipient because it’s visually different from other subject lines, it can come across as unprofessional. The best subject lines we’ve seen are sentence-case… but they catch attentions because they’re remarkably well-crafted.

Q: Have you experimented with cold calling for Business Development using Gem? 

A (Joe): I understand this question as asking about business development for, say, a staffing agency or developing new clients. And there’s a cool story there. When we first launched Gem, we hadn’t raised much money, so we weren’t buying sales tools: We barely even had Salesforce. So I’d say our first half-a-million to a million dollars in revenue came from using Gem as our sales outreach tool. Granted, that was for corporate customers buying software; but absolutely. Gem is a great solution for finding emails at high coverage rates and automating your follow-ups; so it works for sales practices as well as recruiting practices.

A (Steve): I’ll chime in with a few customer stories. (And this is a different interpretation of the question: Do we have experience with recruiters calling for biz dev roles, like AEs or SDRs?) We actually have some customers that swear by that strategy. Gem doesn’t serve up phone numbers; but we have a phone number field where you can directly add a phone number for a prospective candidate if you know it. This is the hack our customers use: They set stages 1 and 2 as emails, then stage 3 as an InMail. When stage 3 comes around, Gem reminds them that it’s time to take that action… but rather than sending an InMail, they use that reminder to pick up the phone instead. Then stage 4 might go back to email. This is one way to intersperse cold-calling with email while still getting automated reminders and not dropping the ball… and a creative way our customers have come up with to use Gem to track calls as well.

On Gem:

Q: Does Gem integrate with Applicant Tracking Systems—specifically with Workday?

A: We do integrate with Workday. We’ve currently got a number of different customers on the Workday ATS, and there’s a great opportunity there for companies using Workday to get full visibility of their company’s history with their candidates.

Q: Does Gem help me find email addresses? 

A: Yes! In addition to providing a workflow and automated follow-ups, Gem also helps you find email addresses for prospective candidates. We use a number of different data providers that help us serve up high-quality personal emails.

Q: Does Gem find phone numbers and allow outreach via text messages?

A: No; Gem focuses on email outreach.

Q: You mentioned that you could do email aliases with Gmail; what about other email providers?

A: We integrate with Outlook as well. Today, the send-on-behalf-of functionality is a bit more limited with Outlook partners: We support a general SOBO but the alias functionality is not yet supported. That’s a bit more unique to the Gmail Suite.

Q: Do aliases utilize work email address domains or are they tagged (ex. vs.

A: If your organization uses G-suite for company email it would appear as “”

Q: Is there a plan to ensure the alias function in Gmail doesn’t tag your personal Google+ info like photo and name?

A: So that’s one tricky thing about Gmail aliases: When you send as a Gmail alias sometimes it appears as your Google+ photo and name. The workaround we suggest for folks that want to use Gmail aliases (and by the way, this is true whether you send through Gem or Gmail) is deleting your Google+ account. For most people this is fine; they’ve forgotten they even had an account in the first place. But if you really use your Google+ account you might want to use the proper SOBO instead of a Gmail alias. And just a reminder: using SOBO allows the outreach to send as someone’s actual email; using a Gmail alias allows it to send as an email that looks like a coworker’s email. In that case, the response goes right back to you and you can field it from your inbox. So that’s the advantage of an alias. The downside is that if you use Google+, a very savvy recipient can know.

Q: Are there any suggestions for how to create email aliases without privacy concerns? For example, the concern that folks internally may accidentally send sensitive info to our CTO's alias that is not intended for recruiting eyes?

A: The good news is, with SOBO, if that’s really a concern, we can send directly from the CTO’s email instead of using the alias trick. Now, if we send directly as the CTO, the CTO is now responsible for fielding those responses and following up. And as we all know, CTOs can be pretty busy. Which is tricky, because it’s really important to respond quickly when a prospect gets back to you. So one thing we’ve built into Gem is we'll notify you when someone responds to your CTO’s email so that you can send your CTO a nudge, they can send you the content, and you can draft up a response for them. That’s one workaround we have with the Gem platform.

Q: When you send on behalf of someone else—your example was the CTO—does the reply come back to you or to the CTO?

A: SOBO will send those responses to your CTO (we just discussed the workaround to keeping the recruiter in the loop); an alias will send the responses back to the recruiter.

Q: When using Gem, can I choose if the outreach is sent as a reply or as a first message? I can imagine I’d want follow-ups to be a “Re:” but if I’m sending a re-engagement sequence I might not want it to look like a reply.

A: Gem has a toggle feature that allows you to choose to start a new thread or send a message as a reply.

Q: Is there a way to bulk-stop follow-ups for a certain email campaign (for example, if a role closes)?

A: Yes; we absolutely support that.

Q: Is there a way to create a list of candidates to send outreach to for the day?

A: I understand this question to be asking about queuing up a work list for the day. Yes. You can create a talent pool in Gem that you want to track over time. Maybe I source 50 candidates, put them into a project, and I can work out of that project for the day. Another functionality that we didn’t really explore today is bulk sending. Maybe my preferred workflow is to put those 50 candidates into a project, fine-tune my messaging using some of Gem’s personalization tokens, and then bulk send outreach to all of those candidates in the project with just a few clicks.

Q: What is the cost of this software?

A: Gem pricing varies based on team size. To learn what pricing could be for your team, you can email us at or request a demo at


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