Why texting should be part of your hiring process

Texting is no longer just for informal communication. It can be your secret weapon for recruiting and hiring top candidates fast.

Digital natives or not, most professionals use texting as a frequent form of communication in both their personal and business lives. Why wouldn’t they? Texting is quick and convenient. But even as recently as five years ago, if you asked an HR manager about if they use texting during the recruitment and hiring process, they’d probably reply, “Nope.” That appears to be changing.

So much of our everyday communication has evolved to texting that now even employers are using texts to communicate with job candidates. According to a new Robert Half Technology survey, 67 percent of tech leaders said their company uses texts to coordinate interviews with prospective candidates.

In today’s hot job market, time is of the essence and texting with candidates allows for quick and easy communication — hence why speed was cited as the biggest benefit by both workers and managers.

But not all employers and professionals view texting as the way to go. The charts below show some of the top pitfalls and advantages of texting in the job search.

The survey asked, “What do you think is/would be the biggest benefit of texting?”

The survey asked, “What do you think is/would be the biggest problems caused by texting?”

* This response was not an option for managers

If you’re still skeptical about using text during the hiring process, consider the following:

  • Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97 percent of Americans using it at least once a day. (Pew Internet)
  • Text messages have a 98 percent open rate, while email has only a 20 percent open rate. (Mobile Marketing Watch)
  • Ninety percent of all text messages are read in under three minutes. (Connect Mogul)
  • It takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to email, but only 90 seconds to respond to a text message. (CTIA)

The desire for speed, convenience, and avoiding the trouble of making a phone call has led to the popularity of texting, notes Kimberly Bean, branch manager of Robert Half Technology in Madison. “In the world of recruiting, time is truly of the essence. A tight hiring market in Madison means workers have more job offers on the table from competing companies. The reality is that, in addition to a solid compensation and benefits package and a strong organizational culture, job seekers are impressed by an efficient hiring process that shows them their potential employer respects and values their time.”

A slow hiring process is also more detrimental than you might think, says Bean. Another study from Robert Half Technology revealed 22 percent of employers listed a slow hiring process as their biggest barrier to bringing IT talent into their organization. That’s why it’s so important to have the resources to move quickly — and why incorporating text messaging has become so commonplace. 

Texting is even now a feature built into most hiring software, mirroring the functionality of email, but with the advantage of being much more efficient at reaching and engaging job seekers.

Some companies are more progressive with their approach to texting. Earlier this year, New Zealand-based IT security firm Emsisoft CEO Christian Mairoll told thebalancecareers.com, “We’ve been a fully-remote company for 15 years and, during that time, have always interviewed via text. No face-to-face meetings or even voice calls. Text-only. And we find this to be enormously beneficial. As almost all our communication is via Slack, written communication skills are far more important than verbal skills.”

Others take a more balanced approach, using texting to confirm interview times with candidates, keep them informed about their status in the hiring process, and to provide links to important documents.

What’s important for companies that use text in their hiring process is to be clear and concise in all messaging. “Managers (45 percent) and employees (40 percent) agree that miscommunication is the biggest disadvantage of texting during the hiring process,” says Bean. “Things can get lost in translation, so to speak. It can be easy to misunderstand meaning or tone and miss details when reading and responding to short, quick messages.

“Using texting shorthand and emojis can also cause confusion and make the sender seem unprofessional,” Bean adds. “Errors have the potential to arise when you’re trying to save time and communicate quickly. When it’s something as important as a new hire or new job on the line, both employers and candidates should take care to fully understand messages they receive and send clear, succinct responses.”

For managers who want to use texting during the hiring process, Bean offer the following tips:

  • Ask permission. While most job seekers would be happy to receive communication in any form from prospective employers, verify they’re open to text messages. Some professionals may prefer to correspond over email, phone calls, or in person.
  • Save it for simple correspondence. Texting is efficient for scheduling interviews or following up. But when you have important business to discuss, such as job offers and salary negotiations, stick with in-person or phone meetings.
  • Reach out during business hours. Avoid texting at night or on weekends to demonstrate you respect work-life boundaries.

Bean also has a few words of advice for job seekers who may need to respond to an employer’s text:

  • Follow their lead. Even if you have a hiring manager’s cell phone number, always let them send a text message first, and always confirm you’re texting the right person.
  • Avoid shortcuts. Forgo abbreviations, acronyms, emojis, and gifs when texting with employers. You’ll come across as a more polished and professional candidate.
  • Don’t text for big updates. If you have important questions, changes in your job search, or are accepting or declining an offer, make sure to use a more formal communication method, like an email, phone call, or in-person meeting.

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