Recruiting Candidates Using Their Company Or Work Email Addresses?

I've been recruiting for over 30 years now, and while back in the olden days (pre-internet or Linkedin era) it was considered taboo to have a specific company recruiter proactively contact another companies employees to recruit them to leave. I've heard of cease and desist letters shared between companies battling for talent, but not as much lately.

I personally made a lot of money when I was a headhunter and often had companies call me and literally give me the name of a specific candidate at a specific company and asked me "can you recruit this candidate to our company because we don't want to contact them directly..."

While the times and markets have changed dramatically, I still see tremendous hesitation for corporate recruiters to recruit people at their work location, and only wanting to reach out to people on their personal email address or mobile phone numbers thinking that somehow avoids issues associated with direct recruiting or the perception that candidates will view it as disrespectful that someone reached them on their work email or work phone in the middle of the day.

But the same recruiters have no problem sending a non-solicited text messages to 100 people they've never met at 8PM in the evening interrupting their down time just because they don't want anyone to be upset that they didn't contact them on their work email or phone during the day, when most people value their mobile phones and family time more than their work email/phone time.

While I understand some aspects of this - in my opinion this is largely a myth and also shows a tremendous lack of creativity and approach that would easily mitigate methods contacting candidates no matter what the channel - including possibly contacting them via social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

The reality is, if you email or call someone on their personal email or mobile phone during the day, they are still going to read that on work time and likely on the same laptop or phone that they are getting their work email/calls, so what's the difference?

I also estimate that 30% to 40% of candidates have their company email address associated with their Linkedin profiles, which means if you are trying to message or send InMail messages to contacts most of those are being sent to their work email also, but I suppose if contacts signed up using that work email then they are cool with it.

Also, finding someones work email or phone can be easily done with nearly 80% of contacts, where finding an active daily used email (not a forgotten one from 3 years ago), along with their active mobile phone number can only be done for around 10% of contacts, or you can pay for expensive sourcing solutions that cost between $5K and $10K per year to get up to 40% or 50% of those people, but it's still not everyone.

Also, people are much more likely to look at/respond to work email which is where they live most of their day and they must pay attention to their work email hourly/daily so your chance of getting engagement is much higher assuming you have an engaging and compelling method/strategy of course.

Ironically, even candidates actively searching for jobs do it when they at work and during work hours. I know this as my last company hosted over 200 major career sites with over 20 million visitors per month, so we knew exactly what day + time people visited career sites, and the peak time was 1PM on Wednesday afternoons!

My hunch is that most recruiters that only want personal email addresses are saying that because they are wanting to dump as many people into a campaign/list and push send to spam people (like Derek Zeller wrote about in his blog) versus really doing relevant recruiting that's personalized to each candidate and actually wanting to have an honest email dialogue with qualified candidates. This is the difference between being "campaign minded" and "connection minded" which is where the recruiting market needs to evolve.


Use a respectful but intriguing way to start contact. Instead of sending an email with the subject line "Hey, want a new job?" try to use the subject line "Confidential: Personal Matter" which would catch anyone's eye + intrigue them to open the email. Next, be respectful, apologize and invite. Instead of blurting out "Ha, I got you to open your email - now tell me, you interested in my job?" - let's be respectful, and apologetic using something like this...

"Hi [Name], I apologize for emailing you at your work email address, but it was the only way I could find to contact you. I was hoping to speak with you regarding a personal matter, but would like to have us discuss via your personal email instead - and I assumed you would also. Could you reply from your personal email..."

This would avoid any discussion of new jobs, or any other monitored conversation that any company might flag if they were tracking anyone's email activity (which nearly no companies do unless they are a financial or defense type of company).

Another option: I'm not recruiting you, but asking you to help me An old trick in recruiting to avoid direct recruiting of any person (which can make them defensive or forcing them to commit to answering if they'd be interested in a job) is to instead ask them if they know anyone just like them. Here's an example of what that email might look like:

Subject: Hi [name] - Can you help me? Body: Hey [name] - I'm a recruiter doing a search for someone nearly identical to your profile, and I was going to ask if you knew anyone similar to yourself that would be interested in this amazing opportunity? By the way, if you'd prefer that I reach out to you with similar requests via your personal email in the future, just reply with that and I'll make sure to send them there.

This both avoids the "I'm recruiting you..." issue that might cause any "work" issues where candidate or company would take issue, and more importantly would intruige the candidate to say "I'm interested..." which now put them in the drivers seat of deciding to be interested in the opportunity.

Did you catch the last part? Doing a quick ask for their personal email address will result in them giving you that 50% or more of the time, which will also help you to acquire that asset for most contacts.

There's a bunch of other ways/ideas that you can use to initiate contact via work email, again, just an ounce of creativity will not only open up this channel for you but will ultimately help you avoid having to depend on personal email addresses which expire at a rate of 30% per year, and will get harder and harder to use as consumer data privacy rules come online.

Also, many recruiters have reported that they have great success emailing people at work with no issues whatsoever as candidates (especially in hard to fill job titles) are used to getting inbound work recruiting emails nearly daily.


So let me get this straight, you are saying that you'd rather not make contact with candidates where you can find 80% of their email addresses, where they are 5x more likely to open/read/respond to your email, even though we've shown you how you could do that with none of the negative consequences?

OK, I's some other ideas:

  • Buy an expensive sourcing database If you want to stick to your "email guns" and only use current personal email addresses, then you'll likely have to buy an expensive contact sourcing database solution like Hiretual, Seekout, ContactOut, or Entelo which have good updated contact information, but reports we've gotten are that they are only seeing 50% or so of the contacts with accurate email addresses. Remember, thousands of other recruiters have also bought access to these systems, so even for the people you find with personal email addresses, you're likely going to be the 10,20,30th person that's emailing them from the same list.

  • Use personal email generators and validators These can help you quickly create, validate and confirm the email address of contacts, which works 30% to 50% of the time, but it does require a bit more time to go through this process, and will likely not work well for people with common names (Tom Smith, etc.) as the next-level problem isn't that an email isn't valid (, it's that it's likely not the Tom Smith that you want to email. We have one of the best at ZapInfo, but there are many others you can find by simply googling for them.

  • Use Connect Requests Vs InMail on Linkedin You could stick with doing outreach using either Linkedin Connect requests - which get much higher acceptance rates than InMail - however you will only get those rates if you personalize the connection requests. This takes time and effort, and will require a platform like ZapInfo to help you accelerate this process to get the best results. Best of all, once anyone accepts your connection request on Linkedin YOU GET THEIR PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS!

  • Message people on Facebook (Yes, you can friend candidates on Facebook) Oh brother, this just opened another can of worms as most recruiters don't want to use their personal Facebook to recruit people - and want to keep these all business, but it's 2020 people and especially hard to find people will only work with recruiters and people that they can genuinely connect with. Ironically, you can search/find people more people on Facebook than you can on Linkedin using the right Google searches, and then initiate messaging and friending people without have to buy any expensive subscription at all. Just have to be willing to be real, connected and relevant to candidates. By the way - if you decide to start messaging people on any social network, you would do well to use similar methods to the work email method above. In other words, don't start with a message asking them if they are in the market for a new job. Start with "I'd love to connect WITH YOU and discuss what parts of your job you love and what your future plans might be so I can keep my eyes out for anything that would match for you.."

  • Use free information lookup services online There are many free online search engines like TruePeopleSearch, USPhoneBook, FastPeopleSearch, or ThatsThem that will help you find nearly every contacts personal address, historical email addresses, phone numbers, etc. so it's not hard to find this information, what's difficult is that they often have too much information on contacts. In many cases they will get the home address correct for every person, but they also may have 3-10 old personal email addresses (all the way back to people's first AOL address) and you just don't know which are still valid - so having a validator and doing some test sends will be needed.

We hope that these ideas will help you get much greater results going into 2020 and please share any elements that worked well for you in our Facebook User Group where hundreds of recruiters are asking questions and sharing ideas.