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Outreach emails that are designed to target top candidates take a lot of time and energy for recruiters to create. (At least, they should, if you want them to be effective and make the recipients feel like true VIPs!) So, it’s frustrating to think that all that good work might end up in a spam folder — never to be retrieved, opened, read, and enthusiastically replied to by the prospective candidate.

Emails end up in spam folders or get bounced for many reasons. The recipient’s mail system and security settings have a lot to do with that process, of course. Most spam filters and mail servers use a scoring method to decide which messages should be relegated to a user’s spam folder. The higher the spam score assigned to your email, the more likely your message won’t make it to the recipient’s inbox.

There are several things you can do, however, to help keep your candidate outreach emails out of the spam folder. Here are a few strategies.

When formatting outreach emails, think plain and simple.


You want your outreach emails to dazzle potential hires, of course. But if they’re HTML-heavy and bloated with images, color formatting, and other bells and whistles, spam filters will be inclined to reject them outright. Avoid DIV tags (HTML coding), which is generally good practice for emails anyway. And make sure not to leave tables empty.

Also, be careful about generating bad markups. (This often happens when copying and pasting from Microsoft Word.) Just type plain text in the compose field. Plain text works great — really. It will be less likely to send up a red flag with spam filters and will look professional to all recipients.

Subject lines should be brief — 32 characters or fewer, including spaces, is ideal, so they fit on small device screens — and straightforward. Be careful about the words you choose to include your message, especially in the subject line. Even seemingly benign words like “Success” and “Great” and “Boss” could be flagged by a spam filter. Phrases like “Apply now” and “Call now” and “Urgent” can also put your email on the short path to a spam folder. (Note: When crafting your outreach emails, take the time to do a quick search online for current lists of spam trigger words.)