Blog Post

Recruiters, It's Time to Start Texting Candidates

Elyse Mayer

Director of Content at SmashFly

A version of this article was originally published on the SmashFly blog.

I am the person whose mobile Gmail app always has a number bubble on it. This weekend, it stood at 12,576.

finally decided it was time to go through them (enough is enough, even I have standards people!). And going through them mainly meant deleting—without regard—nearly everything unread older than one month. I figured if I needed to read it, I had probably read it.

I hadn't felt that light in a while.

The moral of the story: People get A LOT of email. The average office worker gets around 121 business emails per day—and that doesn't even include the email they receive in their personal accounts (hello, automated retail emails!).

And while email is still, of course, the preferred method of communication for recruiters looking to connect with potential job candidates its getting as easy to ignore and delete as T.V. ads. So, how do you stand out? How do you fuel talent's willingness and quickness to engage and respond in a sea of email?

Adding text messaging into the mix could be the answer to more effectively—and successfully—connecting with talent in real time.

Why Text?

In today's competitive job market, speed matters. So does immediacy, personalization and influence. And just like artificial intelligence (AI), video interviewing and chatbot recruiting assistants are becoming more commonplace to help quickly screen candidates and quicken the hiring process, so too is texting.

I know you might be asking, "What about a good old-fashioned phone call? Isn't that the quickest and most personable way to connect with candidates?" Honestly? Probably not anymore.

Today's job market favors talent, and most of the candidates in your pipeline likely already have jobs. On top of that, the generation taking over the job market—millennials—has a general aversion to talking on the phone.

And the survey says ... other people agree. According to this survey, 76 percent of respondents say texts are "more convenient" and on their own schedule, while 63 percent say texts are "less disruptive than a voice call." Plus, since 90 percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes of being sent, texting also allows recruiters to get answers—and engagement—faster. Text messaging in recruiting can drive higher response rates, improve time-to-hire and create a more agile candidate experience—yet it's still unchartered territory for many talent acquisition functions.

So when—and how—should recruiters be using text messaging to communicate and engage talent?

1) Hourly, Entry-Level Positions

Perhaps the most obvious application for texting in the recruiting process is for hourly or entry-level candidates. After all, 37 percent of hourly job seekers say being hired quickly is the most important factor in deciding where to work. Since recruiting speed and responsiveness is what sets your employer brand apart from other potential employers, texting can give you a huge competitive advantage here.

Are you opening a new store? Send a text to all previously interested candidates and ask for a quick Yes/No if they are still looking for work. Holding a hiring fair in a new region? A text can help you quickly invite—and effectively remind—potential candidates to attend.

2) Corporate Salaried Roles

When filling corporate salaried roles, it's likely that your candidates already have a job, meaning timing is critical. Text messaging can help you keep great candidates in your pipeline engaged until the right opening presents itself. Texting also enables you to quickly share job reqs—perhaps before they are even made public—with VIP candidates.

To stay top of mind with these candidates, you can also share short workplace culture videos or details on the unique benefits of working for your company. Texting in this way can add a personal touch to the recruiting process, helping you "court" top candidates.

3) Healthcare Jobs

The healthcare industry is all in on texting. Automated prescription refill reminders sent via text are the norm today, and both my dentist and doctor send me appointment reminders via text. Just as texting has changed the way doctors communicate with their patients, recruiters must rethink the way they communicate with healthcare job candidates.

Nurses and doctors are always on the go and almost never sitting in front of a computer where they can easily check their personal email. And since many hospital networks also block access to certain sites—38 percent block LinkedIn, for example—texting is an invaluable way to rapidly reach candidates in the healthcare space.

Time to Text?

More text messages are sent on a daily basis than calls and emails combined. Today, 43 percent of smartphone owners have used their devices to look up information about a job, and 18 percent to apply for a job. Candidates are already using their device in the recruiting process, so it's time recruiters meet them where they are.

I'll be the first to admit—in theory, texting candidates sounds over the top. Even personally, the thought of businesses or retailers texting me out of the blue infuriated me. But while in theory it sounds invasive, in practice, it's just downright simple for people to engage this way. Even more critical: people seek jobs. They are coveted. And the right one can change your life. No one likes to start the job search from scratch—so imagine a world where jobs came to you from a company you expressed interest in at some point, in a personalized way, in a method that's immediate and requires little work or interaction upfront.

Photo: Creative Commons

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