SmartRecruiters Blog

Write Emails People Want to Read, 5 Tips from Recruiting Brainfood’s Hung Lee

Sure you know the basic etiquette, but at the end of the day are you writing something someone actually wants to read?

“Attention is the business currency of our age.” Says Hung Lee, recruiting influencer and Co-Founder of “So how do we get that attention and keep it?”

For Hung, the answer is email. As the creator of recruiting brainfood, the talent acquisition newsletter eagerly awaited by over 9,000 people weekly, he knows the power of a successful campaign, unfortunately so does everyone else. According to a recent study from salesforce for every dollar spent, companies can expect $38 in ROI. So needless to say the competition for attention in the inbox is steep, which has to lead to a communication overload…

We all have an unconscious relationship with our email inbox, one that goes beyond our rational mind, deep into the reptilian center of our most basic instinct: stress!  Every message is an interruption, an ask, or a demand on our time, and for many, even opening the email app on our phones initiates an involuntary groan.

Any professional today is constantly at battle with their overloaded inbox. There are books of strategy, software solutions, sorting features, and virtual assistants all to help workers manage the incessant flow of information. Though the idea that it’s the recipient’s job to tackle the communication overload, seems a bit backward, maybe it’s time for those implementing outbound campaigns to check themselves before they wreck email for us all.

That’s what Hung Lee wanted to do in October of 2016 with the first recruiting brainfood. He decided that rather than making a ‘demand’ on the recipient he was going to ‘give’, and maybe – just maybe – with this approach, he could access the slow thinking part of the mind, that makes rational decisions, instead of the stress-induced reactive mind, that lashes out at every perceived threat.

He realized one day, that he was another voice in the inbox cacophony, and wanted to go from asking to give, here’s what we learned from this marketing maven during his session “What I learned from sending 250,000 Emails” at Social Recruiting Days 2018.

Make it about mission!

“What is my value-add to the person I am contacting?” Should be the first question you ask yourself before sending an email. Make it clear, so the recipient can understand, right away, that you are there to help, not to take.

Consistency equals credibility.

Consistency is key to building audience trust, especially when it comes to both cadence and style. Stick to your schedule and your format so that people become familiar with your messaging, and learn to look forward to it!


In the immortal words of the spice girls “taking is too easy, that’s the way it is.” Taking/asking/demanding/pushing are quick ways to destroy your social credibility. The favors will come back around if you focus on giving value and building trust.

Have an opinion.

An audience will want some commentary and context about why you are sending them certain articles or information. It may feel uncomfortable to share your take, but authentic thoughts are what gives your campaign personality, and helps your audience connect to your content on a deeper level. It shows you read what you are sending and you have a clear idea of why it’s important for them.

Separate scared and profane.

When it comes time for business, think about using a different channel. Your email is where you’ve created familiarity so now you can connect on LinkedIn or Slack without muddying your email mission.

Bonus point: Be human!  Some of the best engagement comes from when you make a mistake and say “whoops, my bad!”

These are just five of ten awesome points from this audience-builder extraordinaire so be sure to catch him live if you can!

Kaya Payseno