Top talent acquisition professionals know that recruiting is all about building relationships. They also know that technology and tools can make that work easier or harder, depending on how they are used. Text messaging tools built for recruiters are no different. They offer enormous opportunities to improve recruiter efficiency, speed up time to hire and foster genuine connections with top talent. But, texting solutions must be implemented with a solid understanding of the underlying technologies, use cases and best practices that can help ensure success and mitigate risk.
Texting delivers higher ROI than almost any other technology or process improvement available to modern recruiting organizations… if it’s done right. Implemented the wrong way, it can create needless inefficiency and real compliance headaches. The ins and outs of successful texting for recruiters aren’t complicated, but they are important.
This guide aims to educate you about those ins and outs, so your recruiting team gets it right from the start, regardless of the specific tools or platform you choose. It offers perspective on the following key questions and lots more…
We hope that our Recruiters’ Guide to Texting will provide you a solid foundation for evaluating texting platforms and processes. Most importantly, we hope it empowers you to recruit more effectively.
While an increasing number of technical tools are available for recruiters, developing close ties with candidates requires a personal touch that no technology can replace. But technology can help begin and maintain productive conversations. In fact, it’s changing the very nature of conversations in personal and professional contexts. For years, phone and email have been the dominant business tools for collaborating, delivering information and generally keeping in touch. Now, text messaging is gaining rapid traction in the business world as a key communication channel.
Since relationships are built on dialogue, recruiters must be experts on how to effectively use different tools to maintain communications. Today, more than three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone. Most of them keep their device within arm’s reach 24 hours a day. That means recruiters have another way to reach candidates and build relationships—so long as they behave appropriately.
When recruiting, using text is trickier than it seems at first. The reason: Different generations approach messaging with different attitudes. Younger candidates text continuously, to the point that it’s integrated into almost every part of their lives. Older candidates use it somewhat less frequently and are more likely to object to receiving messages after business hours. Some may also be reluctant to share certain types of information over text. That said, there is no one “type” of user to focus on when you consider texting… virtually all ages and demographics use text extensively at this point. So, recruiters must think hard about how best to work it into their process and watch out for the communication cues that candidates offer them.
That’s what this guide is all about. We’ll show you how to use texting most effectively as you identify and recruit the talent your organization needs. We’ll look at what different types of candidates like—and don’t like—about texting, when it’s appropriate to use and how to make sure your efforts demonstrate your company’s culture and align with its brand.
If you have questions or suggestions about topics you’d like covered in the guide, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
The best recruiters understand that despite all of the technology available to help them, the foundation of recruiting is a constant. Talent acquisition is about building relationships.
So, why add yet another communications channel to candidates when email and phone calls have proven themselves to be so valuable in building and maintaining past relationships? The answer is that times keep changing, and so do the ways we communicate. As that happens, the effectiveness of tried and true tools also change as preferences shift.
The nature of conversation is constantly evolving. That means recruiters must evolve their tools and tactics at the same rate to remain effective.
As of 2019, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. Messaging is the number one reported use of smartphones, and only in America, 292 million people used text message. 91% percent of those users keep their device within reach around the clock. And, while emails only generate a 20% open rate on average, text messages are read over 95% of the time, often within three minutes of being received. The average response time for a text message is 60 times faster than that for an email.
That tells us that texting—once embraced primarily by younger generations—has gone fully mainstream, penetrating every age group and demographic.
More data points to consider:
55 minutes … Americans spend an average of 55 minutes a day texting.
89% … In 2019, 89% of people reported they like to text with businesses and service providers.
The statistics confirm that text is simply too pervasive for recruiters to ignore. As a preferred method of communication for many candidates, it has quickly become one of the most reliable and rapid means of reaching talent. That is true for all members of the workforce, but especially so for workers who don’t spend their days at a computer like construction workers, nurses, etc.
When the labor market is tight workers with specialized skills are hard to find and can pick and choose the job opportunities that they consider. So, it’s especially important to accommodate how in-demand talent thinks about the recruiting process. Speed and convenience become paramount. If it’s easy to have a conversation, then candidates will engage. If it seems like a hassle, they may won’t prioritize responding because they know that they have options if and when they want them.
Today, most people use technology so extensively in their personal and working lives that they’ve developed high expectations about the speed and convenience of virtually all of their experiences, from buying products to paying bills and communicating with friends. Those expectations remain high when they’re considering a new job, especially in a tight job market. Texting can help meet those expectations by reducing friction in the communications stream and making the experience more personal.
Used properly, texting moves the recruiting and hiring process along faster and more easily than other methods.
Why is that true?
Texts tend to get right to the point, which makes them easier to read and respond to.
Candidates can respond to texts on their own time… while they’re in the elevator, waiting in line for lunch or stuck on a conference call.
Text messages are viewed as personal communications, so job seekers know they are reaching a real person.
At this point, virtually everyone across the professional spectrum has a mobile phone on them 24/7, even if they aren’t at a desk all day. And, many hourly workers don’t own or have access to a computer and rely on their mobile devices exclusively. To reach them before the competition, recruiters must adopt a mobile first orientation.
Even though mobile phones and texting are pervasive, it’s important to realize that communication preferences vary from individual to individual. It’s also critical to recognize that the things that makes texting such a powerful recruiting tool – that it is direct and highly personal – are the same things that make observing best practices so important.
Text messages are governed by different laws and standards than email. Employers will want to consider how the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) may apply to different types of recruitment texting activity. Recruiting leaders should consult their legal counsel and get comfortable with the ins and outs when formulating a text recruiting strategy and related policies. Creating sensible policies isn’t hard, but it is critical from a risk management and compliance standpoint.
In addition, you can use the process of getting consent to highlight text messaging as a benefit to applicants and prospects. After all, faster, easier communication is good for recruiters and job seekers alike!
Does your organization use texting to recruit? If your answer is no… are you sure? There’s a good chance that some recruiters within any given organization are using personal devices to communicate with candidates by text. That could be good for results, but bad for compliance because there is no centralized record of communications. Using personal devices, or even dedicated company devices, also makes it difficult to exercise effective oversight to ensure that company guidelines are followed.
Text messaging activity is increasingly likely to be included in compliance audits, so make sure your bases are covered. Follow all of the same protocols—business and legal—that you would in written, email or telephone conversations.
Texting should be professional and consistent with your employment brand, just like any other type of communication. So, it’s helpful to provide high level guidelines to your recruiting team to ensure that everyone is on the same page about internal practices.
If you answer all three questions up front, there’s no room for confusion. As the conversation progresses and you develop a rapport, messages will naturally become more conversational and free flowing, but will rest on a solid foundation. Setting context and expectations up front maximizes engagement.
Adding text messaging to your recruiting process is will make your recruiting efforts faster and easier for years to come. That should make it easy to justify the modest time and energy required to put best practices firmly in place at the outset.
There are as many ways to integrate texting into your recruiting process as there are topics to communicate about. Most recruiting organizations that we talk to share a common set of pain points and use cases with others. But, most also have needs or goals that are unique to their industry or organization. It’s worth thinking hard about both questions as you evaluate text recruiting solutions. How do other recruiters leverage texting? And, how can texting address some of our unique challenges?
Many recruiting organizations already have a large database of interesting prospects in their ATS. Text messaging is an extremely effective way to reach out to those contacts at scale to rapidly generate interest in new positions. Done right, candidates will feel like you’re prioritizing them for consideration, boosting engagement.
Texting candidates to confirm that their job application has been received and is under review can be a great way to keep them engaged in the process. It makes the recruiting process feel more personal and less like a black hole.
Interview coordination is ideally suited to texting. Many candidates will already need to consult the calendar on their mobile phone, so responding from the same device is the natural choice. Some organizations text links to scheduling apps like Calendly to streamline things further.
High volume recruiters simply cannot respond to most applicants individually. Using text, they can qualify applicants faster using response templates and automated screening questions. Advanced recruitment texting platforms can be programmed to send back follow up questions, job application links or other content based on candidate responses.
Sometimes, coordinating with the candidate is only half the battle. Some recruiting teams use texting to send interview reminders to hiring managers and colleagues, so nothing slips through the cracks. Fewer missed interviews means shorter time to hire.
Employers with lots of seasonal jobs often re-hire many of the same workers year after year. But, it can be difficult to stay in touch during the off season and figure out how many past employees plan on returning and how many new employees will need to be hired. Text messaging makes it dramatically easier to check in.
SMS ‘short codes’ are five to six digit numbers that are often paired with keywords for use in text recruiting (ex. ‘Text JOBS to 12345’). Employers utilize them on signage at on-campus events to maximize ROI. They allow students to register interest in learning more about opportunities, even if they’re not able to speak with a company representative directly.
Retail, hospitality and other employers with large physical footprints can also utilize text short codes to capitalize on walk-in applicants. Signage placed on doors, at the register or elsewhere connects job seekers directly to the online job application forms and minimizes distractions for managers in the field.
The list above captures some common texting use cases for recruiters, but is not exhaustive. Brainstorming with your team and talking with peers is likely to yield other valuable ideas for utilizing texting within your organization’s recruiting process.
Candidates want personal contact. Texting is effective when used to provide that at the right time and for the right purposes. Or, when it’s used to speed up and simplify parts of the process that don’t require a personal touch.
One of the most important drivers of your employer brand is the employee experience. A company with a strong employer brand is typically one in which employees feel a strong affinity for the organization and its products and services. It has a workforce that is proud to be affiliated with their employer.
The sentiments that drive strong employer branding spread through word of mouth and the company’s recruitment marketing. The interactions that you have with candidates are the first concrete experiences that most job seekers will have with your employment brand. So, every interaction must reflect that fact, including how recruiters approach text messaging.
“According to LinkedIn, 75% of candidates consider an employer’s brand before they apply for a job there, so staying consistent clearly has the potential to impact your success.”
Texting has many unique qualities that can be leveraged to advance your employment branding goals. For starters, there’s a good chance that recruiters competing for the same talent aren’t using it, despite the fact that texting is the preferred method of communication for many job seekers. So, you’ll get faster responses and you’ll also stand out from the competition when you use texting to recruit. Technology is such a big part of modern life that embracing it makes your organization look forward thinking and employee friendly, strong qualities from an employment branding perspective.
Texting candidates also makes it easy to share photos, videos and links to employment branding content. Company culture can be hard to communicate in words, but a well-produced video can provide a real sense of what it’s like to work somewhere in just 30 seconds. Many large employers have already created great employment branding content… the challenge is deploying it at the right time. Texting creates lots of good opportunities for that. Sharing good employment branding content that’s easy to consume invigorates your pitch and drives the process forward in an engaging way.
Candidates want to connect with a person, not a process. And, the personal nature of texts lends itself to relationship building. But, you can reinforce that element of your text communications by integrating branding themes into the communication guidelines for your team. For example, encourage them to use terms like “you” and “your” (as in your career and your development) in their messages rather than “our” (our business or our approach). It’s subtle, but it advances the idea that employee development is central to your company culture.
As with every other element of your texting strategy, adapting it to your employment branding goals is a mix of coopting successful strategies that others are using and working in new ideas that tie back to the specific goals of your organization.
Etiquette is an inherently fuzzy concept rooted in shifting cultural norms, personal preferences, and demographics that often boils down to whether something ‘feels’ right given the circumstances. Further complicating matters, texting etiquette is changing rapidly as adoption has moved from nacency to total saturation of virtually all demographics in just a few years. Despite the challenges in establishing hard and fast rules, etiquette is worthy of some consideration in the context of your company’s texting outreach.
Texting is highly personal, as we have noted several times already. That’s a big part of what makes it effective. So, we think it makes sense to reduce texting etiquette to a single, high-level principle, which is:
That means that you need to know your audience and respond to the cues that they give you. You may want to change up your approach depending on who you are dealing with and how they respond. A recruiter’s job is to keep the conversation moving, and conversations move more easily when candidates are comfortable. So, be professional and polite and follow the candidate’s lead as best you can in terms of their text communication preferences.
There are no guarantees in life, but if you think through the items above and keep the Golden Rule of Texting Etiquette in mind, you are likely to stay on solid ground with your texting outreach.