By Sharlyn Lauby
A few years ago, I went to the SourceCon conference. During the event, one of the speakers asked the crowd how many people texted candidates and quite a few people raised their hand, more than I would have suspected at that time. Since then, I have continued to hear more and more people talk about texting candidates. If you’re not texting candidates, you might be behind the curve in today’s competitive talent market.
Human Resource Executive published an article recently titled “Recruiting Gets Smarter with Targeted Texting.” It’s a good read about how talent acquisition professionals can use texting to target candidates. But as I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think that HR and talent acquisition pros need to step back and think strategically about how they will use text messaging in the hiring process. Here are a few things to consider:
Create guidelines that everyone on the recruiting team will use. For example, what types of messages are appropriate to send via text? When are acceptable times to text? Texting should be considered a form of company communication. Texting messages can enhance the organization’s employment brand and candidate experience if they’re done the right way.
Let candidates opt-in. While many recruiters are using texting as a way to contact candidates, I still can’t help but think that texting is considered a very personal way to connect. It still needs a level of permission. Ask candidates if they would like to receive text messages before cold-texting them. It can be perceived as a sign of respect.
Identify yourself in messages. This should go without saying, but I’m amazed at the number of texts I get without knowledge of the texter’s identity. Phone numbers do not identify who the senders are. So, err on the side of caution and identify yourself and your organization. That way a candidate doesn’t ignore you or write back a “Who the heck is this?” response.
Be brief! Just because more people are open to texting doesn’t mean messages should be longer. The beauty of text messaging is its brevity. Recruiters need to learn how to send succinct messages. If the message needs to be longer, find a way to refer a candidate to a medium that’s better suited for longer messages. For example, “May I send you an email with details?”.
Use acronyms, slang, and emojis quite sparingly. Speaking of brevity, texting does lend itself to acronyms, emojis, etc., but you must remember that we’re representing a company (and the company’s brand). Think about how the slang we use in our personal lives would be interpreted by candidates. In some cases, a smiley face or an “LOL” could be perfectly acceptable.
Let candidates opt-out. If we’re going to give candidates the ability to opt-in, then they should have the ability to opt-out. Maybe they’ve decided they don’t want to apply for the opening, or that they no longer wish to be considered. Organizations must respect this and cease their communication with that candidate.
One more thing. Once the recruiting team has finalized their texting strategy, run your ideas by the legal department. I’m sure they would appreciate being looped in and they can make sure that nothing is left out.
I don’t have to tell anyone that the benefit of using texting in the recruiting process is that people read their texts. Before they read emails. Or listen to voicemails (if people actually do that anymore). If organizations want to reach candidates, text messaging is a very effective medium. But it must be done properly and in a respectful way. The company’s brand is on the line.
Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender, a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.