To text or not to text (that is the recruiting question)

Posted on Oct 29, 2019 :: Partner
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Posted by Judy Kneiszel

Many people use texting to communicate every day, yet reviews are mixed when it comes to the question of whether texting should be incorporated into the recruiting process. Here are some of the pros and cons:

Benefits of texting potential hires

It’s hip. Younger adults embrace texting as an appropriate, often preferred, method of communication in almost all circumstances. Texting shows these candidates that an employer shares their mindset.

It’s quick. People tend to respond to texts immediately. Texting can be the least bothersome way of getting a quick answer to a question.

It eliminates phone tag. This is valuable if the person being texted keeps different work hours than the recruiter. For example, someone trying to hire a chef away from a competing restaurant will probably get a groggy answer to an 8 a.m. telephone call. Calling at 8 p.m., however, may interrupt his sautéing. A text sent when it’s convenient for the recruiter is likely to result in a response when it’s convenient for the chef, and nobody gets burned.

It won’t get buried. Send that same chef an email at 4 p.m. on Monday, and it might be buried under 100 emails from suppliers before he finds it the next day — if he finds it at all.

It’s referenceable. Texting leaves a trail, so the job candidate can refer back to vital information such as the interview time and location.

It’s immediate and direct. Texting is a convenient way to stay in touch, so appointment times or locations for interviews can be changed easily.

Drawbacks of texting in the recruitment process

It could be unwelcome. Unsolicited text messages can seem invasive. Ask job candidates their preferred communication method on the application and only text candidates who have indicated that text messages are welcome.

It may be discriminatory. Older adults may prefer phone calls and emails and view texting as inappropriate for professional communication. By using texting exclusively, you risk alienating potentially good candidates or being accused of illegal age bias.

It could make you appear overworked. Texting a candidate for a traditional 9 to 5 job long after 5 p.m. could send a bad message. The text recipient’s first impression of the company may be that executives don’t respect employees’ free time and want them to be on call 24/7.

It could create wage issues. HR professionals who use texting in recruiting may feel like they must respond to texts immediately, even after hours, which could create overtime pay issues.

It’s not personable. Texting eliminates the human element in recruiting. Text messages are also open to misinterpretation due to their concise nature.

The verdict

Combined with email and phone calls, texting, when done correctly, can be a valuable communication tool for recruiting. If you’re going to use texting in the recruiting and hiring process, however, be thoughtful about it. Make sure you’re not excluding those who prefer other methods of communication and keep a record of the texts like you would any other communication. Specialized software with tracking capabilities and customizable templates can make texting consistent from candidate to candidate, and recruiter to recruiter.

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Judy Kneiszel is an associate editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. She conducts research and creates content on a variety of HR-related topics and contributes to a number of J. J. Keller products including the Employee Relations Management Today newsletter and the Essentials of Employee Relations manual.