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Text messaging is becoming an incredibly useful tool for recruiting. What at first glance might seem as a very informal method of communication can actually pay dividends at all stages of the recruitment process. That’s because these days we’re all connected to our phones. In fact, the average person checks their phone more than 150 times a day, and 91 percent of people say that they always have their phone within arm’s reach.

Mobile is by far the most popular form of communication and, when used effectively, it can elicit excellent responses from potential hires, streamline the recruitment process, and help you build and maintain relationships with soft candidates.

If you’re thinking about using texting as part of your recruiting efforts, here’s what you need to know:

How recruiters use text messaging

There are quite a few ways you can use texting in recruitment. And while it certainly doesn’t work for every person (so be judicious about who you contact this way and why), some of the most common scenarios where texting makes sense are:

  • Cold outreach. Sending a text to potential hires you haven’t actually interacted with to gauge their interest in a role.
  • Following up. Keeping candidates up-to-date with the recruitment process by sending them a quick text to let them know what’s happening.
  • Reconnecting with previous candidates. Letting them know about new opportunities they may be interested in and keeping communication lines open.
  • Giving reminders. Reminding people of the time and date of an interview or sending them useful information such as maps or parking instructions.

It’s a personalized approach to recruiting

Texting is one of the most popular forms of communication, especially among younger workers. So it makes sense to communicate with them in a way that’s so integral to their daily lives. But while texting may be the method of choice for personal communication, job seekers are still split on their impressions of recruiters who text. A recent software advice survey found that approximately 70% of respondents didn’t feel that texting was an “unprofessional” means of communication (regardless of age).

However, you don’t want to be too casual about texting. You need to send well-crafted texts that convey useful information and demonstrate genuine interest. A one-size-fits-all, bland text that reads like it’s an automated response just won’t cut it. Texting also shows you’re thinking outside the box and a tech-minded employer that takes the time to engage in thoughtful contact.

It’s faster and more effective than email

Text messages have a whopping 98 percent open rate, and 90 percent of people read their text messages within three minutes of receiving them. Plus, texting is quicker, more immediate, and it elicits a faster response. By contrast, a conversation over email can take days, provided you can even get someone to read your unsolicited email message.

When you use text messages in recruiting, you’re effectively streamlining the process. In fact, it should come as no surprise that 90 percent of recruiters who have implemented texting in their recruitment found that using texting speeds up the process a great deal. And that’s important; respondents have been known to turn down job opportunities if they take too long to come to fruition.

It can work better than actual cold calling

Many people who are currently employed are either considering changing jobs, or would make a move for the right position. However, when you call them during the day while they are at work, they might not be able to talk to you, and even if they can, they might not take calls from unknown numbers. Texting is an unobtrusive way of getting through to candidates during the day and one that’s becoming increasingly effective.

Using new trends to your advantage

It might not work for every candidate, but it’s highly likely you can use text messages to your advantage with potential hires at some point in the recruitment cycle. The key is to be thoughtful about what you’re sending and why. If you haven’t harnessed texting as a recruiting tactic, it may be time to start.

Does your organization use text messaging to reach out to candidates? If so, what kind of feedback have you gotten about it?  How important is it that your next applicant tracking system has this functionality?

  • Taylor Diers

    I am dying to see text message integration in JazzHR. I use Google Voice on my computer but of course, it’s not integrated. Additionally, a lot of my candidates come from job boards that don’t integrate with JazzHR, making tracking down all my communications a nightmare. Please, please, please find a way to integrate SMS with automation into JazzHR!!! It would be a life saver! Thanks so much!

    • Alicia Wilde

      Hey Taylor, you’re in luck! JazzHR is launching Candidate Texting this summer! If you have any additional questions feel free to reach out to marketing-team@jazzhr.com 🙂

  • Christoph Neut

    Indeed a very good use case for messaging. We performed a POC with the Flemish Unemployment Office with very positive results amongst young jobseekers. At #sparkcentral we are very keen to explore this further and turn messaging recruiting into a best practice for all enterprises in the war for talent.

  • Michael

    Text messaging is VERY effective and here’s a quick how to on using Text to go after new candidates… https://www.careerleveling.com/2-dings/

  • This has been a very insightful post and discussion, so thanks to everyone for their comments and feedback. At JazzHR, our Product Team is actively looking at the best ways to introduce texting capabilities into our recruiting tools. If you’re interested in being part of our planning process for this set of features, just drop us a note at product.feedback@jazzhr.com and mention our texting blog post. We’d love to talk with you!

  • Beth Yovino

    I have found texting very effective in my recruiting efforts. As one of the “over 45” crowd, I was trained to cold call candidates at work, they expected these calls. Heck, if someone on my team got a recruiting call, I gave them a gold star for being so awesome that people outside the company see their value! Now it’s a different story. In this age of “recorded for quality control,” candidates are much less receptive, if not downright incensed. Even LinkedIn is becoming more of a challenge, as more employees route their LinkedIn communications through their work email. Texting remains that last bastion of privacy for a potential job seeker.

    • Beth Yovino

      PS. I use Loxo.co as my ATS. They provide SMS integration.

      • WebberJ

        Heard about Loxo as well, didn’t they have that good SMS integration.

  • Samuel Morgenstein

    You lost all credibility..and my attention…with this statement: “Plus, only 32 percent of candidates consider it unprofessional to text, and most of those who do are 45 or older and won’t be in the job market all that much longer.”

    • WebberJ

      That statement sounds not accurate to me either. I was a buddy’s garage helping installing the new rack and tonneau cover when his eldest brother is about to leave for the job interview. He mentioned he got the final interview invitation he received through SMS.

  • Aubrey Bastian

    I would echo Mark’s comment on automation. Our ATS does not make it easy (or cheap) to integrate SMS messaging into our communication process within our system. Without the recruiter’s using their own personal phones, I’ve been challenged with how to implement text into our process and to make it efficient. We have tried emailing messages to the text domains, but the challenge becomes obtaining the candidate’s phone provider to assure you are texting to the right domain. I’d love any other thoughts/comments on how to implement this. This IS the mainstream way we communicate with friends & family and I think business needs to catch up and is certainly the way of the future for Recruiters that we need to figure out how to adopt.

    • Josh Rector

      Use Google voice.

  • I love to see how new initiatives in our industry can improve the candidate experience. I especially love your point about how it can replace cold calling, especially since it’s not as intrusive or risky for the candidate. I have not experienced texting during my job hunt, but I can appreciate how it can speed up the process.

    One question I have is, would you want to automate it? Say for example, you can use your ATS to contact each candidate in the pipeline through a text to update them on their status. Is that too impersonal? Personally, I can see a lot of potential in that, especially for smaller follow-up messages or instructions. I’d love to hear your thoughts and thanks for sharing!

    • Amanda Groves

      Hi Mark, I think you are definitely onto something! We see a future where applicant tracking systems can automate sms notifications based on the candidate hiring stage. Though this is not an imminent feature for JazzHR, it’s definitely something to look for as the HR tech industry continues to blossom. Thanks for your comment and we hope to see you back on the notes blog soon. – Amanda

    • Amanda Groves

      Hi Mark, I think you are definitely onto something! We see a future where applicant tracking systems can automate SMS notifications based on the candidate hiring stage. This automation could potentially help nurture candidates, while accelerating time-to-hire and increasing overall engagement. Though SMS messaging is not an imminent feature for JazzHR, it’s definitely something to look for as the HR tech industry continues to evolve. Thanks for your comment and we hope to see you back on the notes blog soon. – Amanda

      • Annette Carroll

        I’m using a new text recruit product called Canvas and I absolutely love it! It is going to integrate with the ATS I use, SmartRecruiter at the end of this month and I couldn’t be happier. It logs all of our interaction, has AI built in, and will even mask a candidates gender if you want it to. Check it out http://www.gocanvas.io

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