Customer Story


Terminal increases response rates to 41% with Gem

Terminal is the world’s first tech-enabled remote teams engine for fast-growing companies. The company provides services and infrastructure in a complete solution that allows businesses to build world-class remote engineering teams quickly, and hire, develop, and retain talent by creating communities that take the guesswork out of remote and help startups thrive. Founded in 2016, Terminal has built over 30 remote teams and has hired more than 350 engineers across Canada, the United States, and Latin America.

“Collectively, we saw a 31% response rate in April. May was 35%, June and July were 33%, then August jumped to 41%. That’s a significant increase in prospect interest, thanks to Gem.”

Kerri McKinney | Terminal

Kerri McKinney

Global Director of Talent Acquisition

Terminal | Customer Logo
Terminal | Customer Logo


San Francisco, CA


200+ employees

What they do:

Recruiting and software

Pain points / Challenges

  • No solution for email follow-ups when reaching out to potential candidates

  • The team felt they had to sacrifice either speed or personalization in their outreach

  • No database in which to save candidates that had already been vetted

Results with Gem

  • The team can set-and-forget sequences rather than sending one-off emails, increasing response rates by 10%

  • Recruiters can send in bulk while personalizing every email, not having to sacrifice speed for quality

  • Recruiters can drop vetted talent into projects and source directly out of Gem with each new req, significantly speeding up the hiring process

Kerri McKinney is the Global Director of Talent Acquisition; she joined Terminal in late 2019. “The team had only been using Gem for a few months when I arrived,” she recalls, and she was initially skeptical. “I’ve been in recruiting for over a decade and I’ve always been pretty anti-automation when it comes to reaching out to candidates; personalization is crucial to add the human element and not come off as spammy.” She initially wrote Gem off, but as she started learning more about its personalization features, she realized she had access to a tool in which personalization was just as important as automation. “I decided to create a messaging pilot to try out a few different outreach strategies and see which message received the best response rate. I crafted three different sequences in Gem and set them up to go out over the course of three weeks, each with a different messaging focus, clickable link, and personalization piece.”

“Within hours, I started seeing Gem update the data in real-time... I was fascinated. I couldn’t stop watching.”

Using Gem’s sequence feature, Kerri set follow-ups timed to go out using Gem’s recommended 6-6-4 method. “I kept the Gem tab open to monitor the responses but didn’t really think much of it. Within hours, I started seeing Gem update the data in real-time, showing me whenever a candidate opened my email or clicked a link in my message. I was fascinated. I couldn’t stop watching to see which message had the most impact on passive candidates.” That small experiment was the lightbulb moment for her, Kerri says. “There was finally a tool that could automate the tedious, time-consuming task of reaching out to candidates while not sacrificing the human aspect of it, which is a must as part of our recruitment process.”

The more Kerri started digging into what Gem could do, she says, the more she realized this was a game-changer for sourcing candidates. “I started weekly trainings for the team to ensure they had a solid understanding of how Gem worked and what it could do. Terminal already delivers high-quality hires 38% faster than the industry standard, but I realized that we had an even better opportunity to outshine ourselves. Gem isn’t a complicated tool. I love the interface; it’s very user-friendly; but it does have a lot of features. In addition to making sure my team knew how to use the tool, I made sure to share the ‘why’ behind using Gem to get them motivated to alter the way they reached out to candidates. Not only does it save recruiters and sourcers valuable time not having to craft personalized messages to bulk email candidates, it also lets you see link click statistics to measure what content resonates best with candidates, and gives you the ability to schedule follow-up messages to those who don’t respond to your initial email—you can literally click a button and never think about the candidate again until they receive two other emails from you. Once the team had a solid understanding of the drivers behind the push to use Gem and what it could do for them, it became easier to get them to incorporate it into their routine when reaching out to candidates.”

But it was the results the team saw, Kerri says, that really started to drive usage. “One of the biggest delights has come from using Gem’s follow-up feature. I’d say 90% of recruiters send a single message and then never think about that candidate again. But a second email doubles your chances of being seen; a third, in theory, triples them. The team was initially concerned that follow-ups would irritate recipients; but after sharing Gem’s data around sequencing and personal examples of responses I had gotten from my own follow-up messages in the past, they decided to give it a try. Now they rarely remember that those second and third emails are going out because it is such a consistent part of the outreach process.”

“Pipelining and long-term relationship building has always been the key to our success; Gem lets us do those things both easier and faster.”

Steve Connole, a Senior Sourcer on Kerri’s team, was named Gem’s top user this past quarter for having the highest response of more than 300 Gem customers. “I was so proud when I heard about his accomplishment, because his role on the team makes up a large part of the messages that go out to potential candidates.” But the whole team’s response rates have gone up in the four months since they started implementing follow-ups. “Collectively, we saw a 31% response rate in April. May was 35%, June and July were 33%, then August jumped to 41%. That’s a significant increase. Now we’re starting to test out a fourth follow-up that will go out four-to-six months after the third, and putting together a strategy to see how effective that is. Pipelining and long-term relationship building has always been the key to our success; Gem lets us do those things both easier and faster.”

Kerri returns to the subject of humanizing recruiting by way of Gem’s search feature. “We’ve created a team project of active top candidates in Gem. Anytime someone speaks to a candidate who’s great but isn’t quite a fit for the role, they put them in this Gem project. This is talent that’s been properly vetted by our team and is actively open to a new position. Now every time we get a new requisition, the team starts by sourcing vetted talent directly out of Gem rather than going to LinkedIn or GitHub and starting from scratch. This has helped us get candidates into the process significantly faster while showing the engineers we speak with that we care about building a relationship with them: instead of ending the call if they’re not a fit, we take the time to learn about their experience and what they’re passionate about so we can reach out to them when we get a new role that may be a better fit. Over and over again, Gem helps us combine speed with that indispensable human touch.”

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