The Evolving Role of Texting in the Hiring Process
Ask any established recruiter – they will tell you that developing and maintaining a positive and professional relationship with their candidates is one of the main factors that contributes to their mutual success. Clear, concise and timely communication is key to developing that relationship. This includes not only what is being said and how, but also the vehicles you are using to share your message. Different methods are favorable under different circumstances, and there is no one right answer. So, is texting between job seekers and recruiters acceptable? For me, the answer is yes - within reason. Here’s why:
Texting offers a discrete way to reach and correspond with my candidates. With calling or leaving a voicemail, the candidate needs to be in a private, quiet space to converse with me or listen to my message. This may require stepping away, and if the candidate’s current employer is not aware they are seeking employment, this can add a layer of stress to our communication and the process.
Unlike having to listen to a voicemail message and then call back, texting is nearly immediate. In the contract staffing business, things move fast. Real-time communication can mean the difference between grabbing a last-minute opportunity, or losing it to another job seeker. Clients will ask if a candidate can do a phone screen or even an in-person interview same-day. For me, those requests are best communicated and most successfully scheduled with my candidates over text. Speed also benefits our clients. If I have a great candidate I don’t want to lose to another opportunity, I can text and get her into the process quickly – before someone else scoops her up!
It’s Less Formal (this has pros and cons)
Texting is clearly more informal than an email or phone call. When composing an email, you must address it, create a subject line, craft the body copy and include a salutation and signature. That all takes time! Texting is more free thought and closer to a live conversation. This allows both candidates and recruiters to get to know each other. This is great when it’s between a recruiter and candidate. I do, however, caution candidates or hiring managers who are interacting with each other to remember to be on their best behavior – texting can sometimes be too informal, and show a less than professional side.
Before texting with candidates, it’s important to create a communication plan and ensure they are comfortable with it. After all, texting is a more personal form of communication, and it may feel intrusive for a candidate to receive a “surprise” text from their recruiter. At the start of the relationship, I simply ask, “Are you comfortable with communicating over text?” I also explain the specific things I will text them about:
•Changes in our process with a current job we are working on together
•Logistics on scheduling, confirmations, resume submittals, etc.
•To confirm a time to speak over the phone
I’ve found most of my candidates are comfortable with texting, and even prefer it over other forms of communication.
Don’t Text This
There are topics that I won’t discuss over text, mainly out of respect to the candidate and the fact that these topics are often served better through the phone as they can be complex and will likely generate questions.
•Benefits and time off
•Other job search activity the candidate has going on
•Anything sensitive or controversial
•Being turned down for a role
For these topics, it’s best to stick to the phone to ensure both the recruiter and candidate are aligned.
It’s an Evolution
When I first started recruiting in 2012, I did not text my candidates. The first time was out of necessity. My candidate had an interview starting and I hadn’t heard back from him. I was able to confirm the interview quickly over text, ensuring the candidate was ready to go. As time went on, texting started to get incorporated into my daily practice. At WinterWyman, I have noticed that texting is more prevalent among recruiters and candidates than it is between account managers and clients.
No Thank You
I’m often asked by candidates if they can send a thank you note to the hiring manager after the interview. Whenever a thank you note is sent, I prefer an email or even a hand-written note over texting, which feels too informal at the interview stage of the process. Most often we move too quickly for hand-written notes, so email tends to be the best way to communicate this message.
Overall, texting can offer job seekers a more positive candidate experience. They don’t have to step out to talk to us, they can get real-time updates and fast answers, their recruiters are accessible and candidates are kept very much in the know about their job search process. Texting encourages a more substantial, familiar and positive relationship between recruiters and candidates. I’m confident texting will continue to be a growing method of communication. Many Applicant Tracking Systems and third party “plugins” are incorporating texting into their candidate communication. It’s not going away!