The days of T9 are long gone, and text messaging is here to stay — which means you need to add text message recruiting to your arsenal of recruiting tools. Let’s talk about what’s going to make you successful when it comes to this essential recruiting tool. 

First and foremost, some stats on text message recruiting: According to a study on the efficacy of text message recruiting, recruiters at a global technology firm reported an 87% candidate response rate to text messages, a three-minute average response time and an open rate five times higher than that of email. The result? More than 4200 hours of work saved. 

So there you have it — texting can actually be more effective than email. Now, on to the do’s and don’ts of text recruiting. 

Text recruiting 101 

Before engaging a candidate via text, there’s the matter of consent: You need to have the candidate’s permission to reach out via text. This is essential for companies operating in the EU that are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which provides data privacy measures for consumers. 

Once that’s established, start by drafting your message (without actually sending). Be sure to explain who you are and why you’re reaching out. The goal here is to establish a business relationship, and that requires providing specific, crystal-clear information without room for ambiguity. 

For example: “Hi, I’m William, a recruiter for Company XYZ. I’d love to discuss a [relevant job] opening with you. Would you be available for a 15-minute phone call about this position tomorrow between 1-3 p.m. EDT?” 

After finishing your draft, pause and think. Read and re-read the message to verify that autocorrect hasn’t changed the wording. Ask a coworker to make sure it’s airtight. Then, check and double check the recipient (and your content) one more time before hitting “send.” Finally, take a breath and relax until you receive a response. 

Pro tip: In today’s age of the cloud, remember that electronic messages live forever. Stay professional; don't get casual just because it's a more casual medium.

Consider content, length and tone

Think of text message recruiting as follow-ups to the conversation, and not the conversation itself. You want to keep your messages short and avoid sending anything long-winded. At the same time, remember that it can be easy for someone to misunderstand the tone of texts without a voice or face for reference. 

As a general rule, avoid the following in your text recruiting: 

  • Anything too personal.
  • Anything considered inappropriate.
  • Anything that reflects poorly on the employer. 
  • Acronyms, symbols, abbreviations, emoticons and emojis. Err on the side of formality, while maintaining brevity and focus.
  • Text slang, sarcasm, chat speak, cursing and hashtags. Use complete sentences and proper grammar. 
  • All caps. It makes you seem angry. 
  • Sensitive news. No candidate wants to see “lol” at the end of a message rejecting their application. 

Pro tip: Remember that candidates are contacts, not friends. Consider your audience when creating content.

Timing is everything 

Of course, remember that when and where you text candidates is also important. Keep the other person’s schedule in mind and stick to some semblance of normal hours. In fact, once you’ve got a candidate’s consent, ask them to provide a window of time when they’d prefer to be contacted. 

Their “normal” hours might not be 8-5, and should be considered — but stay away from sending anything before breakfast or after bedtime. And should a candidate text you during these times, don’t feel obligated to answer immediately; just follow up once you’re willing and able. 

Don’t ignore a phone call, even if you were expecting a return text, and definitely don’t disappear in the middle of a conversation. Always respond, unless you don’t want to converse with that person anymore. Even then, make sure to politely disconnect rather than disappearing without a trace (a practice known as “ghosting”).

Pro tip: Reply promptly whenever and wherever possible — within reason. Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Those 2 a.m. texts will still be there in the morning.

Make the conversion

As the conversation progresses, continue to proof your responses and give your replies a once-over before sending. You need to be patient with candidates, especially those who might already be employed and answering your messages on the sly. At the same time, you’ll need to tread the (fine) line between leaving them guessing and overcommunicating. 

Make your message actionable, without overwhelming the candidate with too much information or too many attachments (save something for later). Once you decide to switch to a phone screen or convert them to an interview, ask the candidate before simply calling. Sometimes it’s easy to answer texts, but harder to schedule a time to talk — especially when on the job. No matter what the outcome, always thank candidates and sign off gracefully. 

Pro tip: Know when to end the conversation. As far as efficiency goes, texting can be tremendously helpful to recruiters, but only when used in a way that works for everyone. Think through your messages, keep the conversation informative and actionable, and be respectful of the other person on the line — and you’ll have a text recruiting strategy that sets you up for success.

William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.