When communicating with candidates and clients, the idea of recruiters including text messaging as a form of communication has previously been considered unconventional or outside of the realms of best practices. However, as the generations shift, it’s vital that employers adapt to the most preferred form of contact with potential employees to ensure they are hiring the talent they need to evolve their business over time.

If we look at the data, Millennials and Gen-Z will make up about 60-percent of the labour force in North America by 2025. When you consider that these groups will make up the vast majority of new hires moving forward, it’s worth thinking about how your company will communicate directly with prospects you’re looking to employ. 

Although it’s not just about catering to a new generation, using SMS texts and other messaging platforms can increase your positive brand experience, attract passive candidates, and help you recruit for open positions faster than ever before. 

Choosing Channels That Work

Good communication is communication that gets seen. Where email disrupted hand-delivered-mail correspondence for submitting a resume, other text-based services are now beginning to supplant email as a better way to connect. 

Looking at data collected by Talent Lyft, the statistics depict an obvious trend regarding response rates among candidates. Their research found that while texting has a 98-percent open rate, email only has about 25-percent and this trend persists. On average, it takes 90 minutes for someone to reply to an email and only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. Overall, text message response rates are approximately 45-percent, while email comes in at only 6-percent. When it comes to mobile, text messages are opened 98-percent on a smartphone, versus 44-percent for email. Ultimately, text message communication is read, responded and replied to much faster than email communication.

At the moment, email is at no risk of vanishing from the recruitment process. However, there are several benefits for employers willing to experiment with other messaging platforms. 

Creating a Candidate Experience

More than ever, consumers are looking at the entirety of a corporate brand when making purchasing decisions. Your company’s employer branding in the public perception can bolster or create a drag on the organization in the marketplace in a way that was historically unheard of ten years ago. Many companies are now placing considerable emphasis on structuring recruitment processes to ensure a seamless experience for all candidates, regardless of whether they are offered a position. One of the most effective ways to do this is by standard and straightforward communication.

A great way to guarantee all candidates have a favourable opinion of the recruitment process is to keep them up to date with regular communications. SMS text messaging works brilliantly in this regard. Not to mention it can make the entire process smoother and easier on the hiring team.

Let’s discover how this might work in a typical recruitment process.

Collect the Right Information

When you take resume submissions online, be sure to ask for a mobile number and indicate that updates will be communicated via text message. An autoresponder can be set up to reply immediately to all applicants to let them know their submission has been received and when they can expect to learn more. Candidates selected for an initial screening can then be informed over text and directed to book a phone or video interview through an included hyperlink. 

Those candidates who are not selected can also be notified through an automated message and asked to opt-in if they would like to receive future updates on available positions at the company. If you’re using an applicant tracking system, this part of the process will involve no invested time from your recruitment staff. Not to mention, with this simple process, you have ensured candidates feel connected, been transparent about the process, and created a pipeline for potential future applicants. 

After the Primary Screening

Once the process has advanced beyond the initial review, you will want to switch from using an automated service to direct communication. However, here too, text messaging allows you to respond quickly and keep candidates engaged. For those who are unsuccessful, a quick text thanking them for their submission shortly after a decision has been made allows them to move on with their job search. In addition to doing so, providing the candidate with a link to schedule an optional feedback session can further build up your employer brand and maintain tremendous goodwill for future positions.

Holding onto Your Top Choice Candidates

Regarding the candidates who will be moving forward to the next round, a quick text message advising them of their status keeps them engaged in the process and helps them feel instantly connected to your organization. It’s also worth mentioning that one of the biggest reasons candidates drop out of a recruitment process or accept a competitive offer is uncertainty from their first-choice employer. 

Attracting Passive Candidates

When examining the global workforce, we can divide it into two categories, those actively seeking a new position and the passive talent who aren’t looking at all. Research conducted by LinkedIn estimates these two groups are 30-percent active and 70-percent passive. That means that many of the professionals who would be your first choice are probably not seeing your posting on job boards, nor are they looking at your website employment page. To connect with these candidates, you need to have direct access to send them opportunities. 

This is where keeping a candidate database becomes a considerable asset if you’ve built it over years of accepting applications and conducting interviews. While being able to email your database is a great start, having direct access to send them an employment opportunity over text message has the incredible ability to grasp their attention. However, be mindful that sending unsolicited text messages can backfire and tarnish your corporate employer brand.

For this reason, it’s vital that you ask people to opt-in when you’re collecting their information and give them easy ways to unsubscribe from the list if they are no longer interested. Do this right, and you will have a distribution list of potential candidates that can be activated at a moment’s notice. But more than that, you have a list of allies who, even if they’re not interested, will pass your opportunity on to passive candidates that never would have found your job posting on their own. 

Texting Etiquette  

Many recruitment professionals hesitate to shift to using text messages through the hiring process because they are unfamiliar with turning a casual communication method into a professional tool. Here are a few essentials for making sure your text messages are sent and received appropriately.

Brevity Does Not Mean Casual

When you communicate over text-message with candidates, the advantage is that you can disseminate short messages that have an incredible read rate. However, just because these messages need to get right to the point does not mean they should lack a professional tone. Your text messages need to adhere to the company’s tone of voice and reassure the candidates that they are still dealing with a well-managed company.

Respect Their Time

With the ability to send messages directly to an applicant’s smartphone, it’s essential that you realize that this form of communication has more immediacy than sending an email. While it may be tempting to send out autoresponder messages whenever it’s convenient, it’s imperative that you respect working hours. All text message communications should be sent during business hours between nine and five. By keeping your correspondence within this time frame, you allow the prospect the opportunity to keep their personal life and workday separate, and it will communicate that your company respects their time. 

Ask Permission

When it comes to email, people are used to receiving many unsolicited messages and have become adept at filtering through what’s important to them. This also helps explain the meagre open rates. Text messages, on the other hand, are a much more personal form of communication. To ensure you don’t upset candidates during the hiring process, you want to very clearly ask for permission before sending text communications. As the number will likely appear without a name associated with it on the applicant’s smartphone screen, your first line needs to identify who the message is from. 

At LRO Staffing, we have helped our clients and candidates navigate the new frontiers of recruitment technology for many years. If you’re looking to build a hiring strategy that includes taking advantage of new communication opportunities, we are here to help. 

Kush Baudi

Author Kush Baudi

Kush is a Senior Account Executive in LRO Staffing's IT Contract Division. He is currently making an impact by matching top IT talent with exciting tech opportunities while also helping Canadian Organizations identify and hire qualified IT professionals.

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