5 Tips to Make Text Messaging an Effective Recruitment Channel

By Sara Pollock

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Generational groups like Millennials and Gen Z are becoming more and more mobile-focused. They are also taking over the candidate pools in full force. They want to feel connected to their employers, with a faster means of communication and they want to work for businesses that care about their preferences and needs. New technologies like text recruiting are making putting this ideal situation into reality by providing businesses with the opportunity to build relationships with candidates in new ways. It’s changing the recruitment game and shaping the way businesses hire.

Why Text Messaging Makes an Effective Recruitment Channel

  • In terms of advertising, smartphones are the new email, direct mailer and landline.

75% of US adults use a smartphone and global phone usage is expected to surpass the 5 billion mark by 2019. Additionally, 80% of people are now using text messaging for business in some form or fashion. In other words, smartphones are diversifying the recruitment arsenal for businesses in addition to email, direct mailers or other forms of communication (in advertising).

Mobile is the new recruiting “it” factor. It has been for some time now, but businesses and recruiters are finding new ways to repurpose the technology. One such way is by texting job postings as opposed to emailing them or posting them on dozens of job boards online. Text recruiting cuts out the various “middle-men” used in traditional recruiting methods and puts your job posting right in the palm of their hand.

  • Millennials and Gen Z are already using their smartphones for literally everything from social networking to shopping. Now they’re using smartphones to apply for jobs.

78% of candidates who own smartphones would apply for a new job through their mobile device. 73% of job seekers also prefer to receive targeted job opportunities via text. Text recruiting connects businesses with candidates on a personal level in a fraction of the time traditional recruiting methods ever could. It’s also an attractive measure for businesses to build relationships with candidates and potential employees right from the first point of contact.

  • Candidates trust companies that appear approachable and that make an effort to respond quickly.

Imagine reaching out to one of your favorite businesses to ask a question about their products or services. As time goes by and you continue to receive no response, you feel your message has been ignored. Now, your high opinion of them has diminished.

Candidates today feel the same way about businesses that don’t respond quickly — they feel disconnected and unimportant to the company. 53% of candidates trust a company more when it reaches out quickly. When a company takes too long to respond, candidates probably ask themselves why they would want to work for a company that makes them feel undervalued.

  • Text recruiting is more cost-effective than direct mailers and email.

Text messages have a 98% open rate, while emails only have a 23% open rate. For email, that’s a big margin of financial loss. At least with text recruiting you have a near 100% return on what you’re paying for. Plus, with its high open rate, sending job postings via text message means it will get more exposure than email.

5 Tips to Make Text Messaging an Effective Recruitment Channel

Recruiters love texting candidates. Over 60% of recruiters are using text messages to contact candidates, and it makes sense. Since most Millennials have their phone on or near them most of the time, recruiters want to reach them through their phones, using the same notification systems they use for contact with friends. But be wary: if you don’t text a candidate the right way, it can do more harm than good. Check out some easy guidelines you can follow to make your text-recruiting more professional, courteous and successful.

Use Speed to Your Advantage

The biggest difference between email and texting is speed. While the average response time on emails is about two minutes, it’s a deceptive number. It can take days or even weeks for that first email to come through, after which you begin a conversation where the emails come in more quickly. Meanwhile, text alerts on phones are ubiquitous, so you won’t have to wait long for a candidate to text you back. In fact, 90% of recruiters report using text messaging helped speed up their process significantly. If you want to take advantage of this speed, you’ll have to reciprocate to an extent. Be quick to reply to texts, and candidates will probably return the favor.

Don’t Spoil Your Opener

Text messages have an incredible 98% open rate. Compared to email’s measly 23% open rate, you start to see why texting is such a tempting avenue for recruiters. But just because it’s harder to filter out text spam doesn’t mean you can be more reckless about how you approach candidates. Once you have their phone number, craft an interesting text message the same way you’d catch their attention with an email. Your text will still come up with a random phone number, so be sure to introduce yourself, be human, and sell them the job as quickly as possible. Don’t use all caps if you can avoid it and leave your contact email info at the end. If your first text looks like spam, that’s what it’ll become.

Text with Caution

No matter what the response rate or speed advantages of texting may be, some candidates don’t like getting a text from their recruiter. Specifically, candidates over 45 consider text messaging a little too invasive. Although43% of candidates consider recruiters who use texts as professional, it’s not a far cry from the 32% of talent who consider them unprofessional.

Texting is a powerful form of communication, but you use it with caution, lest an older candidate get the wrong impression. Do your research: If your job is the kind that appeals to an older crowd, you might want to ease off on texting.

Keep Business Hours in Mind

One of the fastest ways to make your candidates feel like you’re invading their privacy is to text them when they’d rather not think about their job search. Specifically, 24% of candidates think it’s inappropriate to text them outside regular business hours, making it the most common reason candidates might not take to your texts. If you want to text candidates and still enforce a policy of professionalism, make sure to do it during the regular 9–5. The last thing a candidate wants is to schedule an interview at midnight.

Have a Smooth Follow-Up

Once you’ve made your initial point of contact, how you proceed is important. Because most texting happens through phones, it’s important that you follow up your initial text with a method of contact the candidate can easily get to on their phone. This means having a quick email address. But some candidates prefer to go straight to the application process, which means you need to have a mobile-optimized careers website. Unfortunately, only 20% of recruiters have a website optimized for phones, making it difficult to make the transition from first contact to application. Remember: Texting candidates is a powerful tool, but only if you can properly capitalize on it.

Recruiting Communication Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to reaching out to new talent, make sure to keep in mind the following best practices:

  • Make first contact.

Do: Be approachable and open. Speak with sincerity and straight-forward thinking. Let the candidate know what the opportunity is and how it benefits them.

Don’t: Sound like a salesman — avoid using language that makes the opportunity sound like a pitch. Instead, present the opportunity as something the candidate could grow from.

  • Engage.

Do: Pique the candidate’s interest. Showcase what skills they can learn and develop, as well as what opportunities for growth the position offers.

Don’t: List the job requirements without providing any background or depth to what responsibilities the position offers. Instead, discuss what the candidate would need to fit the position and how the position expands those needs through growth and development.

  • Reinforce the candidate’s value.

Do: Let the candidate know how important they would be, personally, to the position and the business.

Don’t: Showboat the opportunity or wave it in front of the candidate. Instead, focus on how both parties have something to offer each other.

  • Follow-Up.

Do: Thank the candidate for applying and following through the application process. Let them know it was a pleasure to get to know them and reinforce their value as a potential employee.

Don’t: Say something like “We’ll be in touch” then transition back to messaging sparsely. Instead, continue to use text messaging to build the relationship with the candidate to keep them interested in your company and open to future opportunities.

So, before you go all-in on texting candidates, make sure you’re following the rules. A bad texting campaign feels like an invasion of privacy and will give you a bad reputation as a recruiter. But if you know what you’re doing, texting a candidate is one of the fastest and most successful ways to get a candidate to apply.


About Sara Pollock:

Sara is the Director of Marketing at ClearCompany, a talent management software company with a clear mission for success. As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.

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