Response rates to traditional methods of communication, such as emails and cold calls, are declining. In fact, millennials simply don’t use their phones to talk to people, and more and more emails are going unanswered, partly due to the sheer volume of them we receive on a daily basis.
To reach more candidates more effectively, many recruiters are starting to experiment with text messaging. Text messaging has some very desirable benefits for recruiters, including its highly touted 98% open rate. But think about the last time you received a text message from someone you didn’t know. Were you happy about it? Or did you feel that person was invading your personal digital space?
As more tools become available to leverage text messaging for recruiting, staffing industry experts are grappling with the question of whether this approach is effective or intrusive. And currently, it looks like the answer is a little bit of both.
Text messaging is effective
Several sources suggest text messaging is an effective recruiting tool.
- 31% of adults say texting is their preferred method of communication. For heavy texters (those who exchange >50 messages per day), that number increases to 55%.
- Nearly 90% of recruiters worldwide say that “text messaging helped their business by enhancing the speed of communication.”
- Our customers tell us that text messaging helps recruiters get more quickly to that crucial first answer, whether it be a yes or a no. They’ve also received positive feedback about the use of text messaging. For example, Delta Locum Tenens VP James Heil told us: “[Healthcare providers] are thankful we have a way to communicate with them other than phone calls, and they appreciate the ability to reach out in their own way.”
Text messaging can be intrusive
There is also evidence that text messaging is not always the best approach.
- 32% of job seekers view recruiters who use text messaging as unprofessional, compared with 43% who view them as professional.
- Our customers have told us that some candidates feel text messaging is intrusive, using words like invasive andviolated, especially when texting is used too early in the relationship.
How can recruiters make sure text messaging is effective and not intrusive?
The research suggests that whether text messaging is effective or intrusive depends on how it’s used. Here are five ways recruiters can leverage the power of text messaging without alienating candidates.
1. Know your audience.
The Software Advice study cited above found age differences in opinions about recruiters who use text messaging. Respondents between 18 and 24 were more likely to view the recruiters as professional, while those over 45 were more likely to view them as unprofessional. Before you start texting, think about who you’re texting to.
2. Think twice about using texting to establish initial contact.
Many experts believe that texting is most effective after a relationship has already been established. Unless you know that a candidate wants to be contacted via text message, consider making that crucial initial contact through traditional channels.
3. Ask permission to text.
The best way to guarantee your text messages will be welcome is to ask candidates’ permission to send them.
4. Text during normal business hours.
Nearly one-quarter of job seekers in the Software Advice study said that texting outside of business hours is inappropriate. More than 80% identified 8 am to 4 pm as the best time to text.
5. Use normal business communication etiquette.
Although text messages are limited to 160 characters, that doesn’t mean they can’t be professional. Don’t use abbreviations, don’t be rude, check your spelling — in general, follow all of the rules of written business communications.
We are in the early days of text messaging for business, and recruiters are just learning how to use this tool. These guidelines will help you ensure your texting efforts fall squarely on the side of being effective, rather than intrusive.