Tim Sackett

3 min read

Do Candidates Love to Get Text Recruiting Messages?

In the past ten years, there hasn’t been a bigger advocate, publicly, for text messaging candidates than myself. When recruitment text messaging software first hit the market I was all-in from day one.

At this point, the data speaks for itself. As compared to other forms of messaging (email, LinkedIn Inmail, snail mail, smoke signals, etc.) text messaging gets at least 5-10x more open and replies than any other form of messaging. So, the answer to the title question has to be, yes, right?!

Not so fast, my friends!

At the beginning of 2021, I was struggling with a lot of the data around candidate experience (CX). While we’ve been focusing on CX for the better part of a decade, we haven’t really seen the numbers consistently in a productive way, and recently we’ve even seen candidate experience numbers drop. My thought was, maybe we are focused on the wrong thing. Maybe it’s not about their “experience” but simply about the “communication,” we deliver.

We reached out to every single candidate we interviewed in 2020, thousands, and got over 1500 responses from these candidates. One of the basic, foundational questions we asked was “What form of communication do you prefer to receive from a recruiter about a potential job, as the first outreach?” Again, I assumed we would get very high response for “Text Message”, but in fact, over 85% actually said “Email”!

Wait, what?!

Yep, turns out, candidates actually don’t want you to text message them as a first response. Why? That was our immediate question when we saw the data, so we actually did some interviews to find out the “why”. Turns out, especially amongst GenZ and Millennials, text messaging is a very personal form of communication. “Hey! I don’t want you jumping into my DM’s if I don’t know you!”

Basically, candidates were telling us until I know who you are and I’ve given you an indicator that I want to play along, you texting me seems like an invasion of my privacy! But, this just made me more perplexed because we all know what the data says about response rates.

So, candidates tell me they don’t want me to send them a text message about a job, but even my own data shows that as a first outreach my own candidates overwhelmingly respond to text messaging to every other form of communication. What gives?!

What we say and what we do, are often two different things!

Yes, candidates claim to prefer email as the first form of contact, but they respond ten times more to text messaging than email as the first form of contact! Now, what are we supposed to do!?

First, you keep doing what works! For mass outreach, my own team still sends text messages, but we also will A/B test emails at the same time. As you can expect, in 2021, text messaging still wins out by a large margin! But, we did find out that when we are reaching out one-on-one. So, recruiter to one candidate, for the first time, something even better works.

For the first outreach to a candidate, when it’s one-on-one, a personalized email and personalized subject line get a higher response rate than a blind text message. It’s all about personalization. Starts with a great personalized subject line. I’m a Michigan State fan, so someone could use “Go Green!” and I’m most likely taking a look at that email. But, you can’t just stop the subject. You must personalize the entire message, and that is very time-consuming, but also, very effective.

When can I jump into a candidate’s DMs?!

Here’s the thing, once you have first contact, candidates actually prefer you text message them by a wide margin over every other form of messaging. And that desired form of communication doesn’t stop all the way up to the offer stage! It’s all about them feeling comfortable and giving you permission.

I’ve been saying for a couple of years that if you do not use text messaging in recruiting you should be fired! I still stand by that, but I now have to make a small clarification around when and where is the best time to use text messaging. While it’s still the most responded to regardless of time, how you what to establish that relationship with hard-to-find talent, in the beginning, is key to text messaging success.

Tim Sackett, is the CEO of HRUTech.com and author of the best-selling recruitment book, The Talent Fix. You can also read Tim at timsackett.com and fistfuloftalent.com. And listen to him on the HR Famous Podcast.

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