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“thank u, text”: How Recruiters are Attracting the Next Generation of Talent Using Text Messages

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From Twitter and LinkedIn to FaceTime and Instagram, we live in a more connected world than ever. The average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, using around 30 of them each month and launching nine per day. Over six billion text messages are sent each day in the United States — and that’s to say nothing of the Tweets, Instagram DMs, and WhatsApp messages flying back and forth every day.

Millennials (who now make up the largest segment of the U.S. workforce) and their younger siblings in Generation Z expect to interact with friends, family, and yes, companies, where they spend most of their time anyway: on their mobile devices. When it comes to finding a job today, the next generation of talent isn’t willing to spend time on antiquated job boards or emailing back-and-forth with recruiters — they want instant gratification, a seamless experience, and a human touchpoint on the other end. In short: they want to text.

In fact, according to Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation report, two-thirds (64%) of workers who receive a text after applying for a job preferred this type of communication over email or phone call. So if your recruiting team isn’t taking advantage of these platforms to connect instantly with job seekers, then you’re already behind. Here’s what you need to know about text recruiting to attract future employees.

1. Put a framework in place.

So you know you should be wrapping text into your recruiting strategy — but don’t know how to go about it? First things first: you need a system in place. As much as we may wish it were, text recruiting is not just sending out some messages and calling it a day. It’s crucial to have a strategy and guidelines in place as you embark on this process.

Start by investing in a platform — unfortunately, we can’t just use our own phones, because anonymity and data storage are important. From there, tap into the technology. Many text recruiting platforms today leverage chatbots and automation to interact with candidates, schedule interviews, and continue engaging applicants through the entire pipeline, all via text message. And make sure your texting platform is integrated with your ATS, so your conversations can be part of an applicant’s potential profile — and you as a recruiter can find all correspondence in one place.

2. Use a multi-channel approach.

While text recruiting is an emerging opportunity for the recruiting community, it’s not the only way to engage with younger candidates. That’s why folding texting into a multi-channel approach is your best bet to ensure a strategic approach to recruiting. So think through what makes sense for you and your organization — some recruiters might use texting as an alternative to certain emails, but my strategy is to see it as a good way of communicating information quickly that’s short, simple, and concise. Perhaps that means making sure a candidate got your offer letter or rescheduling a call. Some folks are even including short text codes on company billboards or advertisements to allow candidates to show interest and start a conversation. Regardless of what new methods excite you, see what works for you organization — and remember, it might be different for different industries or roles.

However you’re leveraging text recruiting, one thing is for sure — if you’re texting someone and it turns into a full conversation, you should always pick up the phone and give them a call. We only get so many touchpoints with candidates, and even Generation Z workers would rather chat quickly and get back to Instagram.

3. Follow the rules of texting etiquette.

This leads to my final point. No matter if you’re conversing with a digital native or a more mature job seeker, the rules of texting etiquette still apply. Like you would with any other form of candidate communication, be considerate, use an appropriate tone, and keep texts to business hours — unless it’s urgent, you’ll want to respect the boundaries of the candidate.

Another no-no? Double texting. Texting response rates are typically quite high in text recruiting, meaning if a candidate hasn’t responded, odds are they’ve read it and are considering their response. Provide space for a candidate to respond in their own time, no matter how gratifying a back-and-forth exchange might be. And keep the emojis to a minimum. Ultimately, there are many strategies and methods of communicating with candidates, but at the end of the day, companies and recruiters should have their own voice — one that reflects the culture of who they are. You shouldn’t be something you’re not, because a smart candidate can sniff it out.

Text recruiting provides an exciting new opportunity to engage with candidates — and we should all be considering how to incorporate this medium into our overall recruiting strategies. As newer, more digitally native job seekers continue to join the workforce, it’s critical that we as recruiters continue to evolve our methods and try new things. But texting comes with some nuances on its own, so do your due diligence by researching, setting guidelines, and getting creative. After all, a well-timed LOL goes a long way.


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