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Recruiter's Guide to Texting

Section Six

Texting Etiquette

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:

The Golden Rule

Respect that texting is personal

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.

Things to Consider

  • Texting is often viewed in different ways by different types of candidates.
  • Think about whether to text only during the workday, say from 8 a.m. local time (the candidate’s local time) to 6 or 7 p.m. Some recruiters don’t observe those boundaries, but consider that an East Coast recruiter texting at 9 a.m. may wake up their West Coast candidate at 6 a.m. Also, remember that timing cuts both ways. By texting a candidate during off-hours, you may prompt them to do the same with the expectation of a response. If candidates do reach out on weekends or evenings and you don’t want to engage, you can steer their communications back to the business day. For example, if you receive a text on Saturday, you might respond that you’ll follow up first thing Monday.
  • Some parts of the recruiting conversation require a more personal touch than others. Although many consider messaging “personal” and “immediate,” you may want to deliver important news (ex. “you didn’t get the job”) or discuss sensitive issues like salary using other means.
  • You will probably recycle messages from one candidate to another. But, be careful… calling a person by the wrong name can derail a relationship with one cut and paste.
  • Texting is not for long, formal messages. So…
    • Keep it friendly. Refer to the candidate by name.
    • Keep it simple. Messages should be short and direct.
    • Respond quickly. Immediacy is one of the key’s to texting’s popularity.

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.