Step-by-step guide : How to attract top talents using cold outreach [+ free recruiting templates]

Updated on
November 24, 2023

Whether you’re an advanced hiring agency looking for clients’ candidates or a scaling company looking for people to help you grow - you know that headhunting top talents is no easy task.

In a job market saturated with opportunities, the most qualified candidates are often passive job seekers—they're not actively looking for new positions but might be open to exciting opportunities.

This has pushed recruiters to be more proactive. They can no longer solely rely on traditional job postings and expect top talents to come to them.

Instead, they use cold outreach - direct contact with potential candidates via cold email, LinkedIn message, call, or similar. It allows recruiters to personalize their approach and directly get in touch with people who possess the skills and experience needed to excel in a role.

But how do you engage and follow up with hundreds of people every day without sounding like a robot? How do you recruit at scale while keeping that human touch that makes you stand out?

In this article, get a step-by-step guide to finding and reaching out to your ideal candidates, ultimate hacks to automate your recruiting outreach, and top recruiting templates you can replicate today!

A step-by-step guide to finding and reaching out to your ideal job candidates

Pro tip: Before getting started with actionable steps, we encourage you to invest in a proper outreach automation tool.

Recruiters are usually looking for as many time-saving tools as possible, such as lemlist, that can help automate finding candidates, contacting them, following up, and finally, turning them into employees.

Having proper cold email software will help you speed up each step below and exceed your hiring targets while saving resources.

In this article, you can find the ultimate comparison of the top 30+ cold email software and choose the one that will boost your recruiting efficiency!

Step 1: Find potential candidates

Option 1 -Export people from LinkedIn search with lemlist Chrome extension

1. Find potential candidates with LinkedIn’s advanced filters

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for recruiters, as it gives you a large pool of potential candidates. Its advanced search capabilities allow you to find people based on their job role, seniority, location, industry, and much more.

Because LinkedIn profiles offer a comprehensive view of candidates' professional backgrounds, skills, and achievements, they are often more detailed than a traditional resume.

Besides a free LinkedIn account, you can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Recruiter plans for more advanced filtering options.

To ensure you leverage the power of its advanced filtering, here’s an ultimate LinkedIn search guide to help you get the best search results!

2. Use lemlist Chrome extension to send potential hires to lemlist

Once you've identified your ideal candidates, you'll want to collect their contacts so you can reach out to them.

Here’s how to use lemlist’s Chrome extension to add your future hires to the lemlist outreach tool:

  1. In case you don’t have a lemlist Chrome extension yet, get it from the Google Chrome Store
  2. Ensure you’re logged into your lemlist & LinkedIn account. If you still don’t have your lemlist account, you can start a 14-day free trial here
  3. Once your lemlist and LinkedIn account are linked, click the extension on your LinkedIn search results. The form with automatically filled-out (available) leads’ data will pop out.

4. After adjusting your "Import settings", choose which lemlist campaign you’d like to import your new leads to and export them in seconds!

Option 2 - Find potential candidates in lemlist’s leads database

Within the lemlist app, you can use lemlist’s native lead database to find people who will help you or your clients grow with top talents:

  1. Join the lemlist lead database waitlist to get the exclusive access
  2. In your lemlist dashboard, navigate to the Main Menu’s “Leads” section
  3. Filter your search by targeted criteria, such as technology, company size, industry, or location. This helps you target hires that are most likely a good fit for your or your or your client’s company.
  1. Get a list of highly qualified potential hires!

Step 2: Get candidates’ valid emails

To get in touch with your ideal candidates and showcase your value, you need to have their valid contact information.

There are many data enrichment tools for LinkedIn candidates, but beware! People usually have their professional emails on their profiles. You want their private contact instead, as they aren’t likely to talk about new job opportunities via work email.

One of the easiest ways to get your candidates' data is to use lemlist’s Email Finder and Verifier.

Thanks to the waterfall enrichment method, Email Finder and Verifier combines the best third-party data sources to give you 40-55% more valid emails. This is the equivalent of asking 6 different providers for up-to-date leads’ information without navigating and subscribing to multiple apps.

Once you have your new leads imported into your lemlist campaign, select them by bulk (or one by one) and choose the “Verifiy emails” option

For each lead, the app will:

  • Clean the first name and last name
  • Extract and save relevant available information from the lead's LinkedIn profile
  • Retain the best email we found from multiple providers
  • If available, save additional information such as phone number, civility, job title, and other relevant details (4).png

P.S. If you’re exporting up to 300 leads, you can enrich them directly through the lemlist Chrome extension! (10) (1).gif

… and get over 80%+ valid emails and leads' clean information, ready to boost your replies 🎉

In case you can’t find candidates’ private contact info, our recruitment teams advise you to try finding them with tools such as Lusha or Kaspr!

Step 3: Reach out to your ideal candidates

Once you’ve found your target candidates and their contact info, it’s time to craft an engaging outreach campaign that will make them want to work with you.

To get started, here’s an ultimate list of rules to follow when writing your outreach sequence!

The ultimate checklist to writing engaging recruitment campaigns

[ ]  Tailor Your Message

Rule number 1 when reaching out to top talents is to avoid generic templates. Use the candidate's name, mention specific skills or projects they've worked on, and explain why those are relevant to your role.

[ ]  Use a Strong Subject Line

Be creative but clear with your subject lines. They should pique interest while giving an indication of the email's content.

[ ]  Open with Hyper-Personalized Compliment

Acknowledge the candidate's achievements or career progress sincerely. Make it clear you are impressed with their specific work, not just their CV.

This will show them you did proper research and therefore make the rest of your cold email seem more relevant.

[ ]  Focus on Building Rapport

Mention any mutual connections or shared interests you have with the candidate. If you attended the same university, belong to the same professional groups, or have colleagues in common, say so early on.

Your first email should help you find common ground and build relationships with your potential hires,  not to hire immediately.

[ ]  Showcase Company Culture

Highlight unique aspects of your company culture that make it a great place to work. Share stories or testimonials from current employees, especially if they've had a positive experience that could resonate with the candidate.

[ ]  Be Transparent

Provide clear details about the role, including responsibilities, expectations, and potential impact. Transparency can set you apart from others who may be vague in their initial outreach.

[ ]  Personalize the Benefits

Customize the benefits you talk about based on what you know about the candidate. For instance, if they often work on open-source projects, highlight how your company supports or contributes to open source.

[ ]  Visual Appeal

Use bullet points, bold text for important details, and a clean format to make your email skimmable and visually appealing. Make your paragraphs short and mobile-friendly.

[ ]  Add an Image or a Video

Consider adding a short, personalized video or an engaging graphic that can help your email stand out and give a face to the name.

[ ]  Provide a Clear Call to Action (CTA)

Make it clear what you want the candidate to do next. Whether it's to reply to your email, schedule a call, or fill out a form, the CTA should be straightforward.

Keep only one CTA to remove any friction of candidates not knowing which next step to take.

[ ]  Leverage Social Proof

If your company has won awards or has been recognized as a top employer, mention it. Social proof can be very persuasive.

[ ]  Emphasise Candidates’ Pain Points

Try to understand common issues or pain points candidates face in their current roles and address how your opportunity can fix these.

By employing these strategies, you'll craft an outreach message that's not only informative but also engaging and respectful. This will help you increase your chances of getting a positive response from top talent.

Now, let's see how these tips look in action!

Step-by-step guide to creating a successful recruitment sequence (real-life example)

While basic recruitment campaigns rely on a single outreach method, we want to use the multichannel approach that uses a combination of channels such as email, LinkedIn, phone calls, etc.

Because you're connecting on the channels your candidates prefer and based on their availability, going multichannel increases the chances of them engaging with you!

Some candidates might be more active or prefer to reply on LinkedIn than email and another way around.

Here are some of the automated steps you can add to your lemlist recruitment campaign to increase your reply chances:

Step 1: LinkedIn profile visit

→ This step will help you stay on your leads’ minds and sound more familiar the next time you reach out to them. It will put a picture to your name and remind them to reply to your initial email.

wait for 3 days

Step 2: Email

Subject line: 10 tips for moving from BDR to AE

Hello {{firstName}}, as agreed here are 10 tips to help you move towards an account executive position.

I work with quite a few SaaS companies in Paris that are looking for Account Executives with BDR experience.

Would you be interested in taking the plunge this year and managing the sale from A to Z?


→ the subject line isn't focused on the recruiter's end goal but rather gives value to the candidate
→ the purpose of this email isn't to hire right off the bat but to confirm the candidates' interest to even engage with this type of change
→ there is an interest-based question that is easy to reply to without asking for too much effort from the candidate

wait for 4 days

Step 3: Email

Subject line: same as the previous email

{{firstName}}, I am currently helping {{company.sender}} recruit its first 10 Account Executives.

I saw that you had already used {{outil1}} & {{outil2}} and that's good because they want AEs that touch on this type of tool.

The project is ambitious: to build the most modern sales team in the SaaS industry.

They went from $0 to $2 million ARR in 4 years without salespeople --> they want to target bigger accounts and need profiles like you for that.

Their software allows for multi-channel and automated prospecting by email + LinkedIn.

And the best part is that you will use lemlist on a daily basis for your prospecting 😉.

Some practical information:

Location: {{office.location}}
Salary: {{package}}

Do you think we discuss it in person?

See you soon,

→ this email shows the sender did good research as it refers to candidates' tools
→ it pitches the hiring company by showcasing only the benefits interesting to candidates' specific role
→ it's easily scannable as it clearly lists the location and salary package

Step 4: Advanced condition - Opened email within 5 days

Here, you can add lemlist’s advanced conditions.

Advanced conditions in your outreach sequence are steps that will automatically change the flow of your campaign based on specific criteria you provide.

By adding triggers such as “opened email within 5 days”, you can automate the next step based on whether the criteria were met or not.

→ If YES

Step 5: LinkedIn message

{{firstName}}, I have just seen this study which presents all of the SaaS salary scales for Sales positions (AE, BDR, CSM, etc.).

Most of my Account Executive offers are consistent with this grid, so if you're interested in talking about a few projects, let me know.

ps: I sent you a very nice one by email

→ sending a message on LinkedIn reminds your candidates of your message and helps you stay on the top of their mind
→ there is again a new value for a candidate in the form of a valuable study
→ the PS element encourages the candidate to check out his email without being too pushy

wait for 1 day

Step 6: Email

Here is a video from Guillaume (CEO of lemlist) to give you an opinion on the state of mind of the company (+ see an overview of the software):

{{personalized video thumbnail with a link}}

Shall we discuss it out loud {{firstName}}?

ps: I will send you the job description before our call

Here's an example of video thumbnail you can create:

→ the video catches candidates' attention more easily than the written text from the majority of other emails from their inboxes
→ because there's not a lot of context around the video, it makes the message intriguing and pushes views
→ sending a video gives that extra personal touch as it's easier for candidates to put a face to a text and build rapport

Step 7: Advanced condition: clicked on a link in the email within 2 days

→ If NO

Step 8: Breakup email

If it's not the right {{firstName}} time to consider an Account Executive position, when would it be worth discussing it?

See you soon,

ps: if you know good sales profiles, I'm interested (and we pay for the co-optation)

→ even though it might be clear that this candidate won't be interested in the sender's offer, it shoots a shot by asking for anyone else who might be interested

→ If YES

Step 8: Call

→ Calling your candidates can help you build rapport directly.

P.S. Get tips from this cold-calling guide to create personal connections with your prospects and overcome objections via cold calls

wait for 3 days

Step 9: Same breakup email

→ If NO

Step 5: Same email with a personalized video

Step 6: Advanced condition - Clicked on link in email within 2 days

→ If NO

Step 7: Same breakup email

→ If YES

Step 7: Advanced condition - Has phone number

→ If YES
Step 8: Call

→ If NO
Step 8: Same breakup email

P.S. Use LinkedIn profiles from multiple colleagues who have positioned themselves as industry experts (relevant to your lead) to visit your candidates' profiles or send messages.

This increases the chance of your candidates seeing your brand. If your leads accept any of your multiple LinkedIn requests, they will start seeing your posts, which increases personal and company credibility and the likelihood of replying to your cold outreach sequence.

You can use lemlist's Inbox rotation to combine all lemlist sending accounts in one campaign for random candidate assignments. There is no need to duplicate campaigns manually or split the leads.

Step 4 (optional): Automate campaign building with AI

With the help of AI, you can create fully custom recruiting sequences in seconds!

Here's how to use lemlist's AI to revolutionize your recruiting workflow:

[ ]  Open up the lemlist app (if you don’t already have an account, you can sign up to lemlist for free.)

[ ]  Create a new campaign (or choose a campaign you’ve already created)

[ ]  Choose to create your sequence with the help of AI

[ ]  Fill in your:

  • target audience
  • value proposition
  • trigger
  • language
  • tone of voice

Here’s what that looks like 👇 2023-07-25 at 10.29.36 (1)-min.webp

[ ]  Click “generate your campaign”

[ ]  Watch your sequence auto-populate with every step of your cold outreach campaign, including content and personalized variables

5 recruiting templates (+ copywriting tips) to reach out to top talents

Template #1: First message to potential candidate

Subject line: {{company}} looking to meet {{firstName}}  📰

Hi {{firstName}},

Your work on {{project}} looks really impressive and, as such, it drew our attention.

As a matter of fact, we're currently working on a similar project at our company where the challenge is to rank our French content high and generate organic leads in the long run.

We feel that you're the perfect person to join our team and become the #1 creator of SEO-oriented content.

If you're interested, I could send over the position details.

Let me know,


What makes this recruiting template successful?

  • the personalized subject line makes the candidate feel important, which pushes them to open the email
  • a compliment about their work shows they know the candidate’s background, which makes the position sound even more relevant
  • the email clearly shows the importance of their role and how they can contribute, so only top-tier candidates reply

Template #2: Schedule an interview with dream hire

Subject line: We want you at {{company}}

Hey {{firstName}},

Your LinkedIn profile shows an impressive track record in creating loveable and seamless experiences in the app world. All the reasons why we would want someone like you to join our team.

{{company}} is looking to hire a UX Designer, and we've set our eyes on you.

If interested, you can see all the details about the role here.

We'd definitely like to get to know you, no strings attached.

Let me know if you're up for it?

Take care,


What makes this recruiting template successful?

  • the intro line clearly states what they are looking for, so only highly qualified candidates continue reading the email and reply
  • the whole email is about the candidate and not the company, which makes it sound less pushy
  • the no-pressure invitation makes candidates more likely to reply as there are “no strings attached”

Template #3: Hire VPs or Heads of

Subject line: {{firstName}} at {{company}}?

Hi {{firstName}},

I’ve been following your LinkedIn posts and your journey as a Product Manager at {{currentCompany}}. Great job on how you and your team managed to rebrand the product and increase the revenue by 34% in just two quarters!

I am currently helping {{company}} find their new Product Manager for a product that will revolutionize how people do sales.

Based on your experience at {{currentCompany}} and how you like to do things differently, as you mentioned on LinkedIn the other day, you might be a great fit.

I can give you an exact plan on how you could level up your career at {{company}}.

Let me know if you want to hear more about it.


What makes this recruiting template successful?

  • the subject line shows the desired outcome, which makes candidates more likely to open and read the rest of the email
  • the pitch is about the candidate more than about the job offer, which proves they understand them and that the job is a fit
  • before CTA, they mentioned resource as an extra value that can convince the candidate to meet them

Template #4: Hire remote employees

Subject line:Fully remote role at {{company}}

Hey {{firstName}},

How are things going at {{companyName}}?

TLDR - we are looking for a forward-thinking mind to join us fully remotely as an Experienced Accountant. This person would be part of our growing AEC (Architecture, Engineer, Construction) team.

I’d love to have a chat about your work within the AEC industries and how you can level up your career.

We have a strong focus on empowering our people to spend their careers playing to their greatest strengths while providing them flexibility and growth. As we worked hard, we relaxed hard - our last team building was a 9-day trip to Turkey. ☀️

Also, check out our Glassdoor Reviews - 4.2 stars!

Is this something you would be interested in having a quick chat about?

All the best,

What makes this recruiting template successful?

  • a very friendly and fun tone that shows off to the candidate the atmosphere they can experience in the company
  • they mentioned the exact value for the candidate and added a humor element that makes them stand out from competitors
  • relevant social proof adds credibility and helps build trust with the candidate

Template #5: Promote a marketplace

Subject line: Developers needed!

Hello {{firstName}},

While searching for Developers in your area, I found your profile on LinkedIn, and I have to say that I was really impressed by {{achievement}}!

I would love to invite you to join our marketplace of IT professionals at {{company}} and to boost your freelancing career. It works like Upwork or Fiverr, but there is no charge for closed deals!

We can proudly say that there is a huge demand for Developers at {{company}} right now.

Why should you join?

Quick sign-up for our free, anonymous service

Receive job offers tailored just for you

Once you join, just sit back and let suitable assignments find you!

If you want to find out more about how it works, check out this link.


What makes this recruiting template successful?

  • it shows they researched the candidate by complimenting their experience with an example
  • in the pitch, they mentioned what differentiates them from the competition and focused on their unique selling point
  • right before the CTA, there’s a clear list of benefits that pushes the candidate to take immediate action

Need more inspo? You can check out our ultimate cold outreach hub with over 120 proven templates that get replies!


To sum up, cold outreach is an essential recruiting method to capture the attention of top-tier talents in 2023.

When combined with cutting-edge platforms and enrichment tools like LinkedIn, lemlist, Lusha, or Kaspr, it empowers recruiters to connect with the next transformative hire.

With the competitive job market, those who excel in cold outreach following the steps from this article will secure a unique edge and attract top talents!

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