Technology. It's certainly changing how we live our lives and do business. And it's impacting how we hire as well. As technology evolves it offers us new ways of communicating with others which has interesting applications for recruitment. We know today's hiring is getting tougher and tougher, especially with more candidates than ever being choosy about their next career move. Getting the right candidates applying to your open roles is half the battle. But in a hiring landscape that moves quickly, how can you keep your candidates in the pipeline when they have the option to drop out and move on to another company if the candidate experience is not impressing them?
Many hiring managers and recruiters are turning to tech to help keep their talent pipelines informed and one method that been on the rise is texting. Some employers are choosing to text candidates instead of using emails, which can be easily ignored. This is intended to keep candidates in the loop and maintain candidate engagement, particularly if it's going to be a long, multi-round hiring process. But there is some debate as to whether or not texting should have a place in recruiting as it may seem too informal. Then there is the problem of text messages not reaching candidates due to technical errors and human mistakes. So if you're going to go down this path the question becomes, how and when should hiring managers use text messages to communicate with candidates?
Benefits of using text messaging with candidates
If it’s used correctly, texting may be a convenient method of communication throughout the hiring and interview process. A Robert Half survey found that two-thirds of IT managers use texting to coordinate and communicate with candidates. From the candidate perspective, they enjoy hearing from a hiring manager frequently, instead of being left in the dark. Almost half of the employees surveyed said that they had communicated via text and 20 percent found it to be convenient.
Other reasons that texting can be beneficial in the recruitment process is discretion. If a candidate is employed and seeking a new opportunity, they can easily receive text messages instead of more suspicious phone calls. Texting can speed up the process because hiring managers can drop in a link to their calendar for scheduling interview times, a digital application, and other information that the candidate needs. This also allows for an immediate response instead of having to wait till the end of the workday for a candidate to have a chance to reply.
And depending on the format of texting your using, some apps like Whatsapp have a "read" feature that lets both recruiters and candidates know their messages has been received. This greatly improves the candidate experience as job seekers have a direct line to their recruiter and can ask and answer questions without wondering if they're shooting an email off into the black hole of hiring, never to be seen again.
Risks of using text messages for recruitment
One of the biggest concerns that both employers and candidates have in regards to texting is that there is too much room for error. A text message may include the wrong information, may be sent to the wrong candidate, or the candidate may never receive it. Tone and humor are particularly hard to convey over text and misunderstanding can also lead to candidates dropping out of the pipeline. Worse yet, it could turn off a great candidate who has different views about texting during hiring. The Robert Half survey revealed almost one-third of hiring managers see texting as unprofessional. Texting has its limits when it comes to communication and should only be used lightly to augment other forms of business communications. It may only be appropriate for jobs that are hard to fill too - because grabbing the attention of scarce candidates is vital to getting them onboard before the competition does. Given how new on the scene texting while hiring is, it's hard to offer a definite answer on the "to text or not to text" problem. Will texting candidates get more common in the years to come? Absolutely. Does that mean it's the right answer now for every role? No. In each case, you'll still need to use your best judgment and understand what you are giving up if your candidate views texting as unprofessional.
Creating a texting strategy for your organization
It’s always a good idea to create some hard-and-fast rules around the use of any communication with candidates. Designing a text messaging strategy that works for your business is key to using this method of communication properly when hiring. Here are some tips to help:
1) Act within the law and avoid some of the more common mistakes of using SMS text messaging. For example, many companies forget to get permission from candidates before sending out text messages. Then make sure you give candidates a way to opt out of text messages if they do not want to receive them. This demonstrates respect and is the legal way of handling texts.
2) Consider the communication style of each candidate. One study by OpenMarket shows that 75 percent of Millennials believe receiving texts from businesses on things like payments, deliveries, surveys, and appointment reminders is helpful. In some cases, they are even more comfortable texting vs. talking.
3) Understand proper text etiquette. Michael Sunderland, managing director and CEO at Full Stack Talent told Fast Company,”Use texts appropriately and develop good texting manners in the recruiting process to be most effective.” There is no excuse for bad manners.
4) When setting up the Applicant Tracking System, create a personalized text message that lets the candidate know you’ve received their application and look forward to meeting them. Set it up to include their first name, not just the word “applicant”.
5) Invite the applicant to schedule their phone screening with a link included in the message. Verify this message by email with the candidate. For future interviews, use the phone because it will require answering more questions and providing additional information.
6) Know how and with whom your strategy applies to. It’s probably not a good idea to try to recruit your next CFO or other professional position using text messaging. Instead, fall back on more traditional methods and use business communication skills that they would expect. Otherwise, your company may appear to be too casual to high-level candidates.
Texting when hiring is not a trend that's going to go away but it's also not a trend you have to make use of for every position. Like all new hiring tools, you'll have to do some exploration and makes some rules about usage if you're going to jump on the texting bandwagon. But keep in mind that at the end of the day, all of this really boils down to the hiring basics we all know already. Be polite with candidates, respectful of their time, and communicate with them in the manner that they prefer. Your candidates will thank you for it.