“That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?” This is what President Hayes said to Alexander Graham Bell when he first saw the telephone in 1876. Now, fast forward over a century, and answer this question: what was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? If you’re like most cell phone users, there’s a good chance you started your day by checking your device to catch up on the things you missed out on from the night before. It’s no secret that our phones have become our lifeline. As their capabilities continue to increase, so do the attachments we have to them.The original purpose of the telephone – to communicate person-to-person – still rings true today. That’s a little phone humor for good measure! This is evident in our personal and professional lives, and when executed tactfully, mobile phones can help facilitate what we know as the work-life balance or blend.
When it comes to business communications, most employees and employers can identify phone use policies. For example, when it is appropriate to text versus call or what content is fair game for texting. Where it becomes a little murky is with candidates in the recruiting process. The do’s and don’ts of texting applicants are not one-size-fits-all, as industry needs and organizational challenges vary, but here are a couple of points for consideration.
Know Your Audience
In our 2019 Job Seeker Survey Report Part 2: Perceptions of Recruiting, we shared that 43% of candidates prefer to communicate with recruiters via phone call, 42% are partial to email and, just 10% would choose to be contacted by text message. It’s reasonable to think that number could rise as the workforce becomes inundated by the tech-savvy Gen Z. How can you tell where your candidates fall on the communication preference list? Ask. The preference is likely individual-based, rather than merely generational. Once you’ve obtained permission from an individual, texting can be an efficient way to convey clear and direct details about job interview time slots and more.
Keep in mind, even those who prefer text messages over emails and phone calls don’t want to be bombarded with multiple texts or long messages from recruiters. Keep text messages brief, with questions that are simple to answer and calls to action that are reasonable to complete in a timely manner.
Make a Glowing First Impression
It’s important to remember that the recruiting process is the first glimpse into your organization. In some ways, you are serving as a brand ambassador through your communications with candidates. While their ultimate purpose is to relay information, the ways we communicate with candidates should reflect your company culture and values. Texting is a very real part of business today, and by incorporating it into the candidate experience, applicants can see that. When done the right way, your text communication can set a precedent for general work communication expectations. For example, if one of your cultural values is that employees should “leave work at work,” you won’t want to be texting candidates outside of normal work hours. In general, avoiding texts too early in the morning or well into the evening is a common courtesy that can go a long way.
How you respond to the candidates’ text messages can also reinforce that their time is valuable, and they deserve your respect. If you’re sending a text message, do your best to be prepared to respond promptly. This shows a candidate that they are a priority in that moment and their voice matters.
Texting shouldn’t be the sole means of communicating with a candidate. The candidate experience is a relationship-building exercise, and the value of a phone call still goes a long way in showing someone they matter, in addition to humanizing the process. Although many people sneer at their phones when they spontaneously ring with a call, it’s truly not an antiquated mode of communication, and when it comes to building a successful team, nothing can replace that personal human interaction.