How to Use Text Messaging To Improve Candidate Outreach


Text messaging is part recruiting and talent funnel and part communication tool used to engage a large and segmented audience quickly and more effectively than emails or phone calls. For a next-generation talent pool, it’s important to understand that phones aren’t used to make phone calls anymore. This generation grew up with messaging, texting, email, and other forms of instant communication. Because they’re just as instantaneous as a phone call, but offer the ability to think over your words, texting can be more comfortable and precise communication forms for Millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z, the latter being the first truly “always digital” generation.

A Pew study found that 33% of American adults prefer texts to all other forms of communication—regardless of who is sending that text or what the message is about. Additionally, texts are more likely to be read. According a study by Singlepoint, texts have a 99% open rate.

And a recent survey from Chicago-based talent acquisition software company Yello found that 86% of Millennials "feel positively about text messages being used during the interview process." And research from Google has shown that Generation Z prefers texting to all other forms of communication, including messaging apps and meeting in-person. This is your talent pool for hospitality positions, and you can supercharge your hiring by communicating with them on the platform they prefer.

You can use texting technology to confirm job interviews, inform candidates about next steps, to pre-screen candidates with programmed text questions, and to direct potential hires to your company career site via a mobile apply process. No more wasted time leaving voicemail messages, playing phone tag, or sitting in your office sending and responding to emails. Texting with multiple people at once is more efficient and allows recruiters to juggle 20-30 conversations on a text dashboard at the same time.

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Setting Up Text Messaging for Candidate Outreach

I set up a texting communication platform at the staffing company I worked with and it was a great way to engage candidates in every stage of the hiring process. Email has become a “passive” form of communication, especially considering that text messaging provides an opportunity to engage a candidate since 99% of text messages are read within 60 seconds. This is a great way to keep the conversation and engagement levels going with your candidates. This really puts a personal stamp on your candidate engagement levels and depending on the platform you use, there are a number of ways to automate the levels of outreach and conversation.

“Cold” candidates. You can use text messaging to text directly to candidates you don’t have a relationship with. It’s quick and easy to determine their interest in a role and most importantly determine if they are an active candidate who is interested in learning more. This is where further qualifying in the form of a phone call can help expedite your efforts. In many cases the response is immediate, improving your time to fill and lower recruiting costs per candidate.

Follow up. Candidates, regardless of whether their role, experience level or candidate quality, need to know where they stand in the recruiting process. Recruiting is a mix of a long and short game. Going back to employment branding and the candidate experience, the text message can be a great way to give a candidate a quick status update or follow up on where they are in the hiring process without having to answer their phone calls or send an email that probably won’t be seen.

Interview confirmation. While candidates have the best intentions, most don’t go to such lengths to include physical addresses including office numbers at their fingertips. Not every person is like me and makes sure to include notes in calendar and meeting requests. Use text messaging to make it easy for candidates. Confirm their interview 24 hours before the scheduled time via text. Include the address of the interview location including suite or office number so they can easily put it into their Google or Apple maps.

Opening a closed door. Unfortunately, most applicant tracking systems aren’t built like a candidate relationship manager, or CRM tool, allowing recruiters to source talent in their own databases and leave notes for the recruiter themselves or others, like one would do in a traditional customer relationship manager technology like SalesForce. Text messaging services within a CRM can make it easier for recruiters to stay engaged with candidates or re-establish contact with a candidate who interviewed or applied for roles previously but wasn’t offered the job. Whether you use a CRM or not, text messaging is a quick way to engage a candidate who you’ve had a previous relationship with; one that allows you to customize the message for a personal touch.

Post-hire. Using text messaging to drive candidates through the hiring process, including onboarding, employment testing or assessments, is a great way to gently remind them to complete a task so that we, as recruiting leaders, can push through the hiring process. Companies like AT&T use text messaging to do just that. They use it as a way to follow up on conversations with many of these text messages being automated especially in those hard to fill roles like STEM or physicians where high-quality candidates are in demand with the competition.

Finally, unlike a traditional phone conversation, a transcript of a text conversation provides insight into what questions a candidate takes longer to respond to and at if at any point a candidate seems to have lost interest. This allows you to modify your text outreach strategy in real-time to optimize based on candidate experience.

You are only limited to your imagination when it comes to the use and adoption of texting messaging by your recruitment and staffing agency. I recommend testing the waters first with a small pilot program over the course of 60-90 days. Work with this small group to understand support or training needed for your staffing recruiters, obstacles they encounter, and find ways to celebrate and evangelize their successes as part of your efforts to capitalize on this most effective and engaging method of messaging technology.

Topics: Staffing Essentials

Updated July 22, 2020