The Jobs Are in the Mail: The Secrets of Using Email Newsletters To Recruit

As online recruiters increasingly tire of waiting for the right candidate to sift through thousands of pages of job postings on mega job boards, many are turning to large-scale email newsletters. Top performers rarely, if at all, wander into a job database. But, by embedding available positions into email newsletters, savvy cyber-recruiters can reach candidates at work while they are busy researching and solving technical problems for their current employers. Open any Web marketing magazine and you can’t miss the buzz about email. According to Forrester Research, email list rentals are expected to rake in $5 billion by 2000. To date though, only five percent of online advertising is currently spent on email. A recent study by IMT Research, quoted in the February issue of The Industry Standard, estimates that 55 percent of online users with two or more years of experience have a positive opinion about the email they have requested. Approximately 132 billion emails were sent in 1999 alone; and over 60 percent of email users are US based. Additionally, some advertising-effectiveness studies indicate email newsletter advertising outperforms banner advertising three to one. Adherents continue to rave about “response in 24 hours” and the enviable ability to combine niche targeting with virtually guaranteed delivery. It’s no surprise that online recruiters at large employers have followed the lead of online recruitment specialists in turning a more aggressive eye to email. Websites sell advertisers access to their lists of online subscribers via three methods: direct mail, list rental, and email newsletters. Email recruiters will mail opportunities confidentially to qualified members on the employers’ behalf. Both organizations assure customers that they will receive responses from candidates who are both interested and qualified for the position. Secondly, websites may rent lists of email addresses by skill sets, geographic regions, or zip codes. Such lists are easily obtained and cover a wide range of specialties from general job seekers to professionals like nurses, ebusiness consultants or optical engineers. However, many sites will not rent their list for recruitment purposes due to raiding concerns. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Of the three methods, email newsletters are the most prevalent. Distributed to subscribers on a regular basis, email newsletters tend to be cheaper and are packed with non-recruitment information the user has requested. Search hard enough on the Web and you can find an email newsletter covering nearly any topic. By offering a digest of articles linked to individual Web pages, online publishers have long used email newsletters to draw an audience back to their websites – now they are beginning to cater to the interests of advertisers by embedding paid advertising spots in newsletters. Like conventional direct mail, both forms of mass email present recruiters with the opportunity to deliver the message directly to readers. But unlike direct mail, email avoids the cost of postage and printing, and delivery is usually assured within 24 hours. If you’re thinking about using this cutting-edge technique here are a few tips for making the most of email newsletters:

  1. Take the time to do it right. There are marketers who get five percent of customers to respond the same day and others who get far less. Good email marketers learn by watching what works?and what doesn’t.
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  3. Recognize the different email products available. Steer clear of any list that hasn’t first secured a subscriber’s permission to receive email. Valid lists are most often described either as “opt in,” which means recipients have either chosen to receive emails from this source, or “opt out,” which indicates an individual has signed up for another service and has had an opportunity to remove his/her name from mailings. Both alternatives can effectively gain permission if they are clearly presented on the sign-up page for a newsletter. Reputable sites also clearly post their privacy policy and adhere to the standards of a third party such as Truste ( Using lists drawn from Internet users who have not given permission poses potential liability risks and runs counter to the recently adopted agreement between the Federal Trade Commission and the online advertising community. Lastly, look for lists that make it easier for recipients to “unsubscribe” and voluntarily remove names from lists. Most importantly, people dislike receiving online junk mail, or “spam,” and spam is a poor substitute for effectively managed email delivery to people who have requested it.
  4. Know the difference between email lists and email newsletters. Lists are just like direct mail, the address is rented one time and a premium is paid to the site to transmit the message. With email newsletters, you can benefit from hitching a ride with content that the recipient is keen to read.
  5. Target. Target. Target. Don’t send vegetarians offers for steak; don’t send Java programmers Windows NT jobs. Pick your target carefully.
  6. Although online text is free, keep it short and sweet. I advise limiting messages to 70 to 75 characters per line (exceeding this limit increases the risk of poor formatting once the email reaches the recipient’s inbox), and no more than 200 words for a message sent to a rented email list. Ads in email newsletters are typically best kept to five to six lines and a linking URL.
  7. Stay fresh. Remember they will see your message in their inbox, so take advantage of the exposure and deliver the message over time. The return from many email newsletters tends to taper after three or more transmissions of the same message. Refresh the promotion regularly.
  8. Watch and learn. Email tracking is pretty straightforward. Ask the site to issue regular traffic reports. Typically these take the form of click-through rates (CTRs), the number of people who clicked on the message. Expect click-throughs to vary from 0.1 percent to two percent.
  9. Play the numbers. Boost your return on investment. As delivery is virtually guaranteed and click-through rates are largely predictable, it is possible to calculate the return ahead of time.
  10. Compel action. Savvy marketers embed a URL in the message and link recipients directly to relevant opportunities – don’t ruin the program by linking candidates to a general homepage and expect them to figure out where to click next!
  11. Rev up the marketing cycle. Email is sent and received in the same day. Don’t wait 10 days to assess the impact?effective email marketers expect returns in a 24-to-48-hour period.

Keep these rules in mind and email newsletter marketing will be a snap.

Mark Williams ( is the Chief Operating Officer of, the exclusive online recruitment services channel of the network of sites that includes,,, Network World's site,, Javaworld, Linuxworld and Sunworld.


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