Hiring is hard work. Sending dozens of emails and spending hours on the phone is exhausting, not to mention less effective with every passing day. People get robocalls more than ever before, so they’re more hesitant than ever to answer the phone. Fortunately, text messaging is a great middle ground for employers that are looking for an effective way to reach applicants, while still being personal. The Hiring Engine has sent thousands of messages to job seekers across the US with the goal of helping employers find their next best hire, and in the process, has developed a set of best practices to help you use texting to be more productive.
Best Uses for Text
Just like the way some meetings could have just been an email, there are plenty of screening calls and interview questions that are better suited for texting. From our experience, texts are perfect for when you want an answer to quick questions about a job or details on required licenses, but can't take the place of an interview or really getting to know someone. As such, there are four areas of the hiring process where texting works great.
For any hiring manager, texts should be the first line of attack when you need additional information you can’t find in their resume, or when you are initially reaching out.
Screening calls are helpful when you are trying to set a baseline for what you expect from an applicant, and texting is a great way to get the same answers in less time. Direct questions work best, as they garner a faster response, and provide the most value. The best messages focus on requirements for the position, or on the candidate’s level of interest in the position. For example, text is the perfect medium to find out if a job seeker has a clean driving record, has the required licenses for the job, or if their compensation expectations matches the job’s pay.
Since texts have an incredibly high chance of being read, and tend to garner a response much faster than an email or a voicemail, they are perfect for when you are ready to schedule an interview. To make them even more effective, consider using a scheduling tool such as Calendly to speed the process along. With Calendly, you can specify what times you are free for an interview, and then text them a link so they can confirm the best time to talk.
A key part of the interview process that many employers forget to focus on is reminders to applicants before their interview. No-call no-shows are frustrating, and a simple text reminder to an applicant the day before their interview can drastically reduce the chances that someone doesn’t show up without providing a reason why. If you don’t want to be responsible for remembering to send out reminders, there are software services like The Hiring Engine that can automatically schedule messages to go out.
Content Best Practices
Texts are also a lot more personal than an email, and not everyone will want to communicate this way. You will want to give someone the chance to opt in or out of text, so you get buy in from them. If you’re using software to text for you, like The Hiring Engine, it’ll likely do this. If you’re doing it manually, you may want to tell someone that you’re happy to email if they’d prefer. As with most things, treat people as you’d want to be treated.
Not all texts are created equal; the content of your message and the way you reach out can have a huge impact on whether or not you will hear back from an applicant. Overall, there are four main ways you can improve the quality of your texts.
Keep it short
First and foremost, keep your messages short. Once you send a message that’s longer that 3-4 sentences, the purpose of the text gets lost, and you lose the interest of your candidate. In almost every situation, one introductory sentence followed by a clear ask is all you need to convey your message properly.
Use Common Language
Though acronyms have become a part of most people's conversational style over text, a level of professionalism should be maintained. Most people understand text abbreviations, but they can make your message lose its credibility. You’re taking hiring seriously, and your messages should demonstrate that. This doesn’t mean the message has to be completely serious though, demonstrating your company’s culture and attitude is vital too!
People are often applying to multiple jobs, and can easily lose track of which application went where. Your texts should always give them enough context to understand why you need extra information, or what you expect from them. For example, if you are reaching out to an applicant for the first time, explain why you are reaching out, and gently remind them of the position you are considering them for.
Have a Clear Ask
Similar to the need to keep your messages short, you should only ask for one thing from an applicant per text. If you give them a laundry list of demands you need them to complete, it’s more likely that none of it will get done. If you need to know about their driving record, simply ask them about it, there’s always time to follow up later.
Connect to the Applicant with Personalized Messages
Overall, your goal should be focused on making sure the candidate feels valued. You’re probably excited about an applicant if you’re willing to start a conversation with them, and you should let them know! The best thing you can do is connect with them on a personal level, use their name, and introduce yourself.
Tailoring the note to a specific person and the content of their resume shows them that you took the time to really read their application. If you need additional info, such as their past work history, this is a great way to connect with them on an individual level.
There’s a Person on the Other Side of the Screen
The type of message you send and its content is important, but you shouldn’t forget that people have lives outside of work and the job hunt. Send your outreach messages during normal working hours - you’ll still get a reply, and the applicant won’t feel like you are encroaching on their time with friends and family.
Pay attention to the frequency of messages that you both send and receive from an applicant. No response is an answer in and of itself. More often than not, the responsiveness of an applicant demonstrates their interest in a job. If you aren’t getting anywhere with an applicant, it may be time to move on to the next resume. The Hiring Engine takes this into account, and screens and ranks candidates based off of metrics like responsiveness, so you know that anyone you reach out to will get back to you in a matter of minutes.
Make sure you are being responsive as well. Unlike email, people expect a quick response over text. Both of you want to hear back from each other, so quick responses on your part helps build mutual respect.
What To Do Next
Sending texts is a great step forward for most companies' hiring processes, and if you haven’t tried using it yet, you may be pleasantly surprised with your results. Even sending manual texts can produce great returns, and if you decide to scale its use, there are sms texting software programs that can automate most of the work. One of our goals with The Hiring Engine was to create a bridge between texting-based outreach and the rest of the hiring process. Our software provides automation, a deep level of personalization, and content designed to get you results. If you want to know more about how we do so, click here.
We hope you can implement the best practices we’ve used into your own hiring process, and would love to hear about how texting has worked for you! Send your success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have your company be featured in a future article.