Recruiting by Text is a Thing. Here’s What You Need to Know

by Evil HR Lady on January 10, 2020

If you call me and get my voicemail, it tells you the fastest way to reach me is to hang up and text.

I’m not alone in my hatred of phone calls–messaging is the number one usage of smartphones. People love messaging apps of all sorts and hate phone calls. So, it makes sense that texting should start to take over recruiting.

It’s not the solution to hiring Millennials and Gen Z (as if there is any one-size-fit-all solution to any generation), but it does have a certain appeal to those who grew up with a phone in their hands and yet never talk on one.

Well, you say, we don’t need to text– that’s what email is for. And that is also true–but email isn’t the preferred communication method of today. Some businesses have even gotten rid of email in favor of other tools. For a good reason–text responses come 60 times faster than email responses.

But, texting can also be informal, and the language you may use with your friends is probably not the language you want to use in business communications with someone you’re trying to impress. (Remember, recruiters need to impress candidates just as much as candidates need to impress recruiters.) So, here are some guidelines for using texting for recruiting.

Write like a grownup

By grownup, I don’t mean someone who is 18. I mean, like your high school English teacher. Or your mother, if she were a high school English teacher. Sentences start with a capital letter and end with a period, a question mark, or (very rarely) an exclamation point. When referring to oneself, it is a capital I. Words do not have letters in them. Every word gets a vowel. Am I making myself clear?

Texting may be convenient, but it shouldn’t be sloppy. You want clear communication, and you’re often speaking to people from different backgrounds. Use standard English, even if it comes via text.

Allow people time to respond

Just because texting is fast doesn’t mean you should expect an instant answer. People are busy, or they may want to think about their answers. A read message doesn’t mean a response needs to come in the next 30 seconds. Unless you made an appointment for texting time, allow 24 hours to respond–especially if it’s an in-depth question.

Give people options

While my teenagers can use their thumbs faster than I can type (or so it seems), a lot of people are better with a keyboard. Use a texting function that can also be used on a computer if you’re going to do more than schedule meetings via text. If someone says they prefer email or “can we just jump on a call,” consider doing that. Remember, recruiting is a two-way street, and sometimes the old fashioned ways are better and more efficient.

This is not the place for an in-depth interview

I’m a writer and would love to do a whole job interview in written form. I can think and edit before I hit send. (But I’ll still miss the autocorrect–my phone believes I want to say “gave” instead of “have” every time.) Not everyone is like me. (Thankfully!) 

Texting can be a part of your recruiting process, but it shouldn’t be your entire process. It’s just like the phone screen, the background check, or the formal interview–a piece of the process. It can be a handy piece but don’t rely on it entirely.

This post is sponsored by Emissary, an app that helps with text-based recruiting.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex January 10, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Words do not have letters in them? Do you mean numbers?

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jdgalt January 10, 2020 at 5:26 pm

Since it appears relevant here:
Thank you for putting the whole message, and not just a one paragraph teaser, in the RSS feed.

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MariaRose January 10, 2020 at 9:41 pm

Excellent article about using texting as a means of communication during a recruitment process. I liked the “hints” about using a form of writing required to composite an essay, in other words, no slang, emojis, or abbreviation shorthand used in causal texting, only formal writing. At least texting doesn’t have a limited number of characters like Twitter has, but the response shouldn’t be a short one-word response, it should be in a few sentences (do those generations know what is a sentence and correct punctuations?) I know English Composition has drastically changed over the years to accommodate the use of technology in writing.
At least, using texting as a means of communication may get more interaction but are they prepared for the delay factor, which they may think is ghosting by the employer/recruiter?

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Semi-Evil Tech Manager January 12, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Unintended consequences are afoot…

Yes, texts get answered quicker because they are (generally) not high volume. Texts are still “out of band” communication in that they don’t get lost in the sea of 1,000 emails. However, let’s say texting becomes the de facto method. How does all that traffic get organized? Next thing you know, messaging applications resemble Outlook (or any other email client).

Regardless of the *transport* method, these are all digital communication mediums and will require similar ways of treating the volume.

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Florida January 12, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Another guideline you want to consider is the CAN-SPAM Act. It is illegal (in America) for a business to text if they do not have prior written permission from the recipient.

I mention this because I work in an industry (real estate) where people use public record lists to recruit. Many real estate companies will text potential real estate agents – people they have no relationship with. This is illegal.

Here’s more info https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0350-text-message-spam

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