101 Spam Trigger Words You Should Avoid Using in Your Recruiting Emails

Are you tired of having your recruiting emails mistaken for a bargain offer on sketchy pharmaceutical products? You’re not alone. Every day, thousands of recruiters around the world wage a silent battle against one of the most familiar and central features of modern talent sourcing: email spam filters.  

This is hardly surprising when you consider that nearly half of the emails sent worldwide are spam. In recruiting, especially in the wake of the pandemic, the onslaught of fake job emails has made it increasingly challenging for legitimate recruiters to navigate candidates' inbox filters effectively.

Statistic: Global spam volume as percentage of total e-mail traffic from 2011 to 2022 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

While email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, and Yahoo have made strides in improving their automatic filters to reduce spam, unintended casualties often include genuine cold emails from recruiters.

What are Spam Emails Anyway?

In its broadest sense, spam refers to a diverse range of intrusive emails with the primary objective of either extracting money or gathering personal information, which in turn benefits spammers financially.

Spam emails may also include marketing emails that you may or may not have unintentionally subscribed to after an online purchase or signing up for a newsletter. Companies also purchase your information from data brokers, adding you to their mailing lists without your consent.

On the less reputable end of the spectrum, you have companies trying to sell unapproved medication, especially in the US, where there is no nationalized healthcare. 

Lastly, emails that violate terms set out in the CAN-SPAM Act:

  • Emails that are false or misleading. This includes the "from" address, the subject line, and the body of the email.
  • Emails with deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the email.
  • You must include a return address or a comparable mechanism in your commercial emails. This way, the recipient can contact you if they have questions or want to unsubscribe from your list.
  • You cannot send emails to someone who has asked you not to. This includes selling or transferring the person's email address to someone else.
  • You must identify your emails as advertisements or solicitations. You must also give the recipient a way to opt out of receiving future emails from you and include your physical address.
  • You cannot send spam emails to protected computers. This includes computers with a notice saying the operator will not provide addresses for initiating unsolicited messages.
  • You cannot use automated means to register for multiple email accounts to send spam.
  • You cannot relay or retransmit spam emails.

Finally, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits businesses from promoting themselves using false or misleading information in emails. 

Why Do Your Recruiting Emails Keep Going to Spam?

Before we look at the why, let’s consider how spam filters identify potentially harmful messages. 

Free email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, AOL, iCloud Mail, and Yahoo use built-in filters to detect spam and move it to a separate folder, such as Junk or Spam. This allows recipients to review or ignore spam messages.

Most email providers use a combination of rules-based algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify spam. Rules-based algorithms look for specific patterns in emails, such as certain keywords or phrases, or emails from known spammers. AI algorithms are trained on large datasets of spam and genuine emails, and they learn to identify spam based on subtle patterns and features.

Thanks to AI and machine learning, email providers have made significant progress in spam detection in recent years. For instance, Google now claims to block over 99.9% of spam emails.

As spam filters get smarter about deciphering email contexts, it is important to remember that trigger words still set off red flags. 

Your carefully crafted email to a potential candidate offering more information about a job opening could still end up in their spam folder.


Because you may have accidentally used a spam word that triggered their email filter.

101 Spam Trigger Words to Avoid in Your Recruiting Outreach

While there are countless spam words that may trigger email filters, it's worth noting that in the context of recruiting, you're unlikely to include terms like 'weight-loss,' 'free money,' or 'risk-free' in your outreach emails. The list we've provided below illustrates the kind of language recruiters commonly employ when crafting authentic candidate outreach.

Words designed to evoke a sense of urgency or artificial curiosity

  1. Act now
  2. Apply now
  3. Call now
  4. Click below
  5. Confidential
  6. Don’t delete
  7. Exclusive
  8. Great opportunity
  9. Hurry
  10. Immediate
  11. New opportunity
  12. No obligation
  13. Rare
  14. Urgent

Words and phrases that simply sound unprofessional in a sourcing email 

  1. Additional income 
  2. Be your own boss
  3. Compete for your business
  4. Double your 
  5. Earn $
  6. Earn extra cash
  7. Earn per week
  8. Expect to earn
  9. Extra cash 
  10. Extra income 
  11. Financial freedom 
  12. Home based
  13. Home employment
  14. Home based business
  15. Income from home 
  16. Increase sales 
  17. Join millions 
  18. Make $
  19. Make money
  20. Money making
  21. Multi-level marketing 
  22. No hidden charges
  23. No hidden costs 
  24. Online biz opportunity
  25. Opportunity
  26. Own boss 
  27. Potential earnings 
  28. Potential earnings
  29. While you sleep 

Words relating to education, credentials, or degrees

  1. No high school diploma required
  2. Online degree
  3. University diplomas
  4. Without a degree

Words that describe the financial aspects of a job

  1. $$$
  2. Beneficiary
  3. Big bucks
  4. Cash
  5. Cash bonus
  6. Cents on the dollar
  7. Cost
  8. Earn
  9. Easy terms
  10. Fast cash
  11. Free
  12. Income
  13. Million dollars
  14. Money
  15. No cost 
  16. No fees
  17. Price
  18. Profits
  19. Pure profit
  20. Save up to
  21. Serious cash
  22. US dollars

Salutations, greetings, and general words likely to be used in recruiting emails

  1. Dear [email/friend/somebody]
  2. Friend
  3. Hello
  4. Acceptance
  5. Accordingly
  6. Avoid
  7. Chance
  8. Home
  9. Leave
  10. Lifetime
  11. Lose
  12. Never
  13. Open
  14. Opt-in
  15. Performance
  16. Subscribe
  17. We hate spam
  18. Undisclosed recipient
  19. The following form
  20. This isn’t junk
  21. This isn’t spam
  22. #1
  23. Thousands
  24. Deal
  25. No experience
  26. Reserves the right
  27. Vacation
  28. You have been selected
  29. Passwords
  30. Solution
  31. Stop
  32. Success

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and using any of these words or phrases will not guarantee that your email will be flagged as spam. It is simply a list of words and phrases that may trigger spam filters. 

Remember, context is key. 


The best way to avoid spam filters is to be authentic. For example, if your subject line says "Senior Java Developer: Remote with Full Dental and Benefits," your email content should demonstrate that by providing more information about the role, such as the required qualifications and responsibilities. Other factors, like using verified email addresses and enabling authentication, can also affect deliverability.

Finally, personalize your emails! 

Make cold recruiting outreach work for you. Learn how ChatterWorks can help you source the talent you need.

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