Written by Chris Russell
14th November, 2019
7 Rules for Texting your Candidates
Timing is everything. While this is true for many things in life, it is especially so when searching for talent. Timing can be the difference between getting the attention of talented prospects and bringing them into your hiring pool or getting ignored by the best candidates.
For many in talent acquisition, text message recruiting is the key to perfect timing. Unlike email and voice messaging, texting allows instant and simultaneous communication.
The conversation is more personalized and makes the candidate feel more important. Both passive and active job seekers increasingly prefer using a mobile device to pursue job opportunities, so texting can put you in the middle of the action for both. It is also an essential part of confirming appointments, organizing details, and sending timely follow-ups.
How to text candidates is really just a matter of common sense. But that doesn’t mean it’s simple. The very best of us can get caught up in the flurry of it all and make mistakes, especially during high volume periods.
But much like breathing, a good recruiter must sometimes be conscious of it in order to go back to doing it naturally. Here are a few rules to help you along the way.
A common ideology in many organizations is “better to ask forgiveness than permission.” But that often doesn’t work when texting with candidates because there might not be any forgiveness if you don’t ask permission first.
Once you’ve made a verbal connection with a prospect, it’s best to ask permission to text. If the candidate agrees, you can then inquire if the candidate has any preferences for time and frequency of texts.
Unless the candidate has reason to expect to hear from you, unsolicited texts should be avoided. If the candidate has previously stated a preference for receiving texts from your company, you can help your cause by introducing yourself by name and title before getting permission to go forward with this particular engagement. If your company has a legal department it would be prudent to run your text recruiting ideas through them first.
Keep it short
Text messaging is by nature a short, crisp medium. Make your words count and get straight to the point. Avoid long paragraphs, small talk, line breaks, empty phrases, and unnecessary punctuation.
Also never leave a candidate wondering whether they should expect additional follow-up or information from you. Instead, make it clear to the candidate when a texting session is concluded. Set their expectations.
Text recruiting is also informal by nature, but that doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. How you communicate with candidates often sets the tone for their entire experience.
Avoid the temptation to use internet jargon, little known acronyms in an attempt to appear casual. Emojis, smileys, or bitmoji’s are ok but only if used sparingly at the right moment, like a ‘thumbs up’ for saying yes. And never reply to a text with, “K” (or “k”). Regular abbreviations are fine where appropriate, as long as the communication remains professional in manner and diction.
Texting is perfect for confirming candidate availability and appointment times, providing directions, and following up. It is also convenient for delivering pressing messages or getting in touch with a candidate who doesn’t reply to emails or voice messages. All of these tasks can be done faster by text than email and help optimize your recruiters time management.
Stay away from asking questions that require anything more than a yes/no or simple multiple-choice answer. If it’s difficult to do by email, it’s way too difficult for texting. Keep your text recruiting sessions within normal business hours in the candidate’s time zone, though early evening is also a good time to catch them after work.
When texting candidates, remember that they’ve invited you into their personal communication space and always treat it as a privilege. Avoid texting anything too heavy or deep, such as something that contains strong emotion or weighty content.
A decision not to move forward with a candidate should be communicated via email or, even better, a phone call. It is in very bad taste to notify a candidate of this decision through a text message, and you and your organization are better than that. A proper rejection is worth more than a text so be sure to do it right, otherwise they may head to Glassdoor and leave a negative review.
One main reason job seekers like text messaging is the ability to conduct business quickly, so your best to deliver on that with candidates. When you feel overwhelmed, remember that efficient hiring, effective communication, and managing expectations are the fundamentals of your job.
If you aren’t able to respond immediately, don’t mention your back-to-back meetings or complain to a candidate about how busy you are. Instead, acknowledge receiving the candidate’s text while conveying that you will respond fully by a certain time.
The fact that you’ve been allowed into a candidate’s personal communication space means that you’ve done a lot of things right. Be confident in yourself and in what your organization can offer the candidate. Avoid boring HR operations talk and instead just be yourself. That’s what got you invited into that space in the first place.
After all, recruiting is still a human process, people still hire people. Text recruiting just makes it more efficient.