10 best practices for texting candidates

Texting allows employers to put their message in the pockets of candidates in a highly visible way, and job seekers can respond quickly without experiencing the pressure that comes with responding to an email or returning a phone call (an important concern for millennial and Gen Z workers).

Given this, your organization may want to implement a texting program as part of your hiring process. It's an easy and effective way to start conversations with candidates and motivate them to respond, reducing your time to hire and facilitating your efforts in a tough race for talent — that is, if you do it correctly. To help you launch your company's texting program, consider the following 10 best practices for recruiters texting candidates.

Use a dedicated service

Your recruiters and other members of the HR team shouldn't be using their personal phones to communicate with candidates. That can result in a siloing of important information, introduce potential security concerns, and perhaps even convey the wrong impression about the company. Instead, use dedicated text messaging software designed for HR departments. This speeds up communication (after all, it's easier to type on a computer keyboard than a smartphone) and facilitates teamwide access to candidate information since the data is centralized in the application.

Obtain permission

You should make sure you have candidates' permission to text them because some people aren't keen on communicating via text. For pre-interview candidates, you can obtain permission by including a note about texting in the job posting or application portal. For those who've made it to an interview, ask them whether you can continue texting them with updates about the hiring process.

Be considerate of available hours

Candidates don't typically spend all their waking hours waiting for an employer to drop them a message. They have personal and professional lives to lead, and recruiters should be considerate of that. If a candidate specifies when they're available to speak or trade messages, restrict correspondence to those hours. If they don't, make an educated guess about their available hours. Perhaps send a message in the morning when they're probably getting ready for the day or later in the afternoon when there may be a slump in their workday. 

Identify appropriate opportunities

Text messaging isn't an appropriate format for all recruitment correspondence. Its best use is for drumming up a candidate's interest in a job, but it's usually not the medium of choice for making a job offer, rejecting a candidate, or negotiating a salary. Similarly, you may want to switch to a different medium if a text message could create misunderstanding, as with lengthy, multi-clause ideas concerning job duties or company culture. For these more personal or complex situations, switch to email, phone, or an in-person meeting.

Cultivate the right tone

The tone of your recruitment texts should reflect your organization's culture and brand. A company that promotes a casual work culture aimed at a young audience might incorporate colloquial speech into its messages, whereas a more traditional work environment would do better with a more straightforward persona. Of course, in either case, the messages should be friendly and professional. They shouldn't include anything that could offend a candidate or promote a lesser view of the company (e.g., inappropriate or perplexing emojis and abbreviations). 

Your candidate texting program should be strategic. Don't go overboard. Just as you wouldn't bombard candidates with emails and phone calls, you don't want to overwhelm them with too many text messages.

Start with an introduction

The unfortunate reality of modern telecommunications is that practically anyone can get ahold of a person's number, and unless the recipient is certain the sender is reaching out in good faith, odds are they'll ignore the message. Hence the importance of beginning a text conversation with an introduction — the recruiter's name, their position, and the company they represent. It immediately contextualizes the message and helps capture the candidate's attention.

Personalize the message

The recruiter should address the candidate by name and include other details that verify the message has been sent with a vested interest in their participation. If the candidate applied to a specific position or was discovered via a social media search, that information should be part of the message. 

Be succinct

Text messaging is a medium that rewards brevity. With that in mind, your recruiters should keep their messages brief and to the point. Spammy content is generally unwelcome in any correspondence but probably more so when the receiving format is a small screen on a device largely used for rapid content consumption.

Limit your messaging volume

Imagine what it's like for the candidate when they receive a flurry of text messages from a recruiter. Their screen repeatedly lights up in the middle of their day, cutting into their obligations at work or home. It's a scenario that isn't likely to inspire goodwill toward the recruiter and, by extension, the organization they represent. 

Your candidate texting program should be strategic. Don't go overboard. Just as you wouldn't bombard candidates with emails and phone calls, you don't want to overwhelm them with too many text messages. Drop one or two messages and allow the candidate time to respond.

Include a call to action

The candidate is more likely to reply if the recruiter's message includes a clear call to action or a prompt for a response. An imperative such as "call us if you're interested" or a simple question about the candidate's professional interests can be enough to extend the conversation and yield the desired outcome. 

The CareerBuilder suite makes it easy to text candidates. Just start a new message in the message center and, down in the corner, select "Send an SMS." That's all it takes to establish a relationship with a candidate through text and maintain the conversation to the point of hiring.

More tips about finding talent for your organization:

Because data and automation are important elements in today's hiring process, it's crucial that you leverage them to optimize your hiring process.

Put sufficient thought into your hiring process, too. You must know what your organization needs and how to attract the appropriate talent if you're to build the right workforce.

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