To Text Candidates or Not to Text Candidates?

Al technology keeps progressing and with its progression comes more HRIS and ATS platforms. But one platform that is interesting, and is showing up often in the news, is Canvas.  Canvas has added text-based interviewing to its platform. Now, I’m not going to run out and switch my ATS to Canvas, but this had me thinking about whether or not I should start texting candidates. After all, if you utilize a work cell phone, you too can text candidates. It might not streamline into your ATS systems, so saving and storing the information might be less convenient; however, it’s doable. But is texting candidates emojis going to give me a leg up when recruiting? What could be the downside? Here are some of the concerns about texting. How professional is it and how responsive would it be?

I started researching responsiveness to text messages. After all, if candidates aren’t going to be responsive, why does it even matter if recruiters should begin texting candidates at all? If it isn’t going to be fruitful, why add more to our plate? I currently am not texting nor does my ATS allow for this function to pull my analytics. Therefore, I went out to the World Wide Web and found a few interesting facts. A recent study done by OpenMarket surveyed 500 US millennials about texting vs. voice calls. Of those surveyed, 63% stated they prefer receiving texts because they’re less disruptive than a voice call. Also, 53% prefer receiving texts because they prefer to communicate via text vs. phone. And lastly, 19% prefer receiving texts because they never check their voicemail. Maybe this is why I don’t get return phone calls.

While the data from OpenMarket didn’t surprise me with millennials, it did surprise me to find out that it’s not just millennials who prefer texting. A Gallup Poll found that text messages were the most common form of communication for Americans under the age of 50. When I spoke with friends and colleagues, many said it’s easier to give immediate replies or have a conversation while working.

It would seem from the data that candidates like and even prefer this form of communication, but how professional can it be? What kind of first impression will I be making to the candidates? Well, when it comes to professionalism, I’ve concluded that it depends on your company’s culture and the job requisitions you are hiring. So it’s hard to give a blanket answer. If a company fosters a culture with a more laid-back approach to communication, such as, “r u available 4 an interview @ 3,” then go for it. Maybe the culture is building a relationship first and then being more informal with communication. A good starting point I’ve found to implement texting is to follow up with the candidate after an interview with the hiring manager. At this point, I’ve asked the candidate their preferred method of communication. This is easy to implement because you have already built a relationship with the candidate. After talking with the hiring manager and knowing that they loved the candidate, I would usually be emailing the candidate to find out how it went on his/her end. So far, switching out an email for a text message has allowed for a quicker response from the candidate.

Texting might not be for everyone and every company, but it does seem that this form of communication is essential to your future employees.

How do you start a ‘Cold-Text’ Conversation?

If you have decided to give texting candidates a try but don’t know how to start the ‘cold-text’ conversation with the candidate, here are a few tips.

First and foremost is letting the candidate know who you are. For example,” Hi John Smith, this is Kayleen with KSS Enterprises.” Sending a WYD, and forgetting to mention who you are and what company you work for can come off a little creepy unless they are into that.

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Second, texting the candidate a message that will grab their attention is just as important as letting them know who you are. One of the easiest ways to do this is by asking them a question. For example, “Do you wish you could bring your cat to work?” If your company doesn’t allow bringing your cat or dog to work, then trying something along the line of, “Are you interested in being part of our fun sales team?”, will work as well. If the candidate is responding and becoming engaged, take this as your opportunity to get to know them in a fun, professional manner. If you are approaching them with a job opportunity vs. them applying, they will hopefully want more information about the company. Sending a picture or a video of the team they would be joining is a fun way to set the company apart and show the company culture.

Next,  Make sure to lead the conversation. You don’t want a candidate to feel awkward about where they stand in the interview process. If you send the original text of introducing yourself but never text anything after that point, they may wonder what is going on. With that being said, make sure you are still taking the time to give well thought-out responses vs. just texting a message instantly.

If the conversation is leading into more details or getting too logistical, such as talking money, it is essential to ask the prospective candidate what type of communication they prefer. Perhaps at this point in the conversation, they would want a phone call vs. going back and forth in a text message. Maybe they are asking for detailed information about the job, so emailing them a job description would be better. Using your judgment and paying attention to the needs of the candidate will produce positive results in the interviewing process.

The only way to start the texting conversation is by starting it. So go for it. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, then you can always go back to email messaging.

Kayleen Shafer is a Recruiter at KSS Enterprises along with 5 sister companies. She covers any requisition such as Custodian to Director in the full cycle recruiting process. KSS just won the 2018 Employer of the Year Award from Western Michigan University for the recruiting partnership built with the Business College.

As a young professional, Kayleen is a newcomer to the sourcing & recruiting trade. She spent 5 years in the banking industry before finding her true passion for H.R. & sourcing. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Grand Valley State University. Kayleen believes in 100% transparency and building relationship within all facets of recruiting. She is a member of ATAP, KHRMA, a local Recruiter Round Table group, & a board member of Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation.   

In her free time, Kayleen loves to go kayaking with her husband Karl and aquatic Goldendoodle, Luna. Please email kshafer@kssenterprises.com or connect with her on LinkedIn, linkedin.com/in/Kayleen-shafer-b97728112.  

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