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Aug 1, 2014

Many HR departments are at a crossroads with their recruiting effort, wondering how to improve staffing and wondering which technologies they should implement into their process.

Using texting as a means of candidate communication is an option being explored by a growing number of firms. But for every supporter there is a critic — and for good reason.

Sure, texting can improve the candidate experience and speed up the process when handled properly. However, many firms do not have the infrastructure or resources to implement a centralized texting platform, integrated solution, or structured texting campaigns.

In many cases, without a thoughtful strategy, texting for talent can become a major detriment to an organization’s recruitment brand.

The positives of texting for talent

Let’s take a look at the bright side of texting for talent:

  • Candidates in the 18-44 age group wholly embrace texting. Some 79 percent of those surveyed have their phones with them 22 hours a day. Younger adults believe it is appropriate to use cell phones in a great variety of situations. Texting is, in fact, their preferred form of communication.
  • With texting, the annoying game of phone tag is eliminated. Conversations are kept concise. Furthermore, recruiters and hiring managers don’t have to worry about their messages ending up in spam filters.
  • According to Techipedia, 98 percent of text messages are opened and 90 percent are replied to in three minutes. When texting interview schedules, reminders, updates, or directions, HR folks can rest assured that this vital info will be received and read.
  • Texting provides a digital trail that can be referred to at a later time, as opposed to a phone conversation, which is fleeting.
  • Texting can maximize manpower for some HR functions. For example, screening questions can be automated in batches, to pre-qualify interested candidates.
  • Low-wage workers are often hard to reach because their financial situation may preclude them from owning a personal computer. Furthermore, they may be part of the nearly 30 percent of U.S. households that do not have a landline. These candidates have more access to mobile phones and are active SMS users.
  • Texting is embraced by the industry. Today, more than 60 percent of recruiters use texting as part of their recruiting process.

But, there are some downsides, too

Now, the dark side of texting for talent:

  • Many HR professionals and hiring managers are using their personal devices to text candidates. But only 60 percent of global organizations have the infrastructure to accommodate a BYOD (bring your own device) workplace. This means texting for talent is increasing many firms’ exposure to unnecessary security risks.
  • Without recruitment-specific apps, HR may be texting one candidate at a time without collecting analytical feedback. This skews both productivity and human capital metrics.
  • The use of texting for talent is of concern because HR and hiring managers may feel that they are “working around the clock” since their phones are virtually always at hand. This may open firms up to overtime pay liabilities.
  • According to research, older adults prefer calls and emails over texting as their primary method of communication. They also do not believe texting is the best form of communication for many situations. By implementing texting in the recruitment process, are we inadvertently giving an edge to the younger generation?
  • Texting removes the human element, which is vital in every business interaction. Without visual or auditory cues, facial expressions, body language, or voice, it is difficult to develop a good rapport and establish a long-term business relationship.
  • Texting is opened to misinterpretation. Because of the ultra concise nature of a text, it is difficult to convey subtleties and civility.
  • Texting may set up candidates for failure. According to the Wall Street Journal, once they receive texts, many candidates believe it’s OK to begin a correspondence via text. In fact, many are sending thank-you text messages at the conclusion of their interviews. HR professionals are also seeing a rise in texts with unprofessional abbreviations, acronyms and emoticons.
  • The immediacy of texting allows for more last-minute interview cancellations and location/time changes. This inconsiderate behavior is extremely frustrating to job seekers.

If your firm is considering the implementation of texting in the recruitment process, be certain that the priority is to improve the candidates’ experience, not to make the employers’ job easier.

In the rush to upgrade talent and gain a competitive advantage, many firms are overlooking the “cons” mentioned above. A smart, structured texting solution is key to enhancing your recruitment brand.

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