Candidates are getting harder to reach. Most Americans don’t answer calls from unknown numbers, and average email open rates are barely over 20%.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to get candidates’ attention: texting. Recruiting firms that use text messages have seen average response times of three minutes and open rates five times those of email. Pretty impressive.

Faster connections and a higher probability of response cuts time-to-hire, thereby increasing profits and boosting client satisfaction.

Here are seven best practices to get text messaging to work for your agency.

7 tips for effective recruiter text messaging

1. Get the green light from candidates first

While texting might be convenient, some applicants would rather save texting for personal chats and talk with recruiters via phone or email.

Before sending a text to a candidate:

  • Ask if texting is a viable and preferable method of communication for them.
  • Let candidates know when and why you’ll reach out over text.

In addition to giving you the green light to communicate over text, this lets applicants know to look for an SMS from a new number, so they’re less likely to ignore your texts or flag them as spam.

2. Keep messages short

How do you feel when you open a text message that goes on forever? Some people don’t even like to receive longer texts from friends or family, so they definitely won’t want to open one from a recruiter.

And unlike email, there are fewer options to format a text. A long text will likely get broken up into several shorter messages, and those messages might not send in the correct order. 

To keep candidates engaged and prevent information from getting lost in blocks of text, make your messages short and simple. 

3. Personalize your messages

Here’s a fun fact: the SMS spam rate is a measly 3% compared to email’s 53%. However, because people primarily text friends and family, spam texts are much easier to spot and report. 

Since you’ve already received permission to text candidates, you can hopefully avoid your messages coming across as spam. However, a text that reads like a bot wrote it and sent it to thousands of people is a waste of that permission.

Personalization lets candidates know they’re communicating with a person, not a robot. And it can be as simple as including the applicant’s name in the text or referencing information from their application. 

4. Use professional language

Avoid being overly personal with applicants via text. SMS allows for more casual messages than email — and their brevity can require simpler language. Just keep in mind that you’re texting a candidate for professional purposes.

You can still send texts with a friendly, personal tone. But ask yourself if you would feel comfortable sending the same message via your work email. If the answer’s yes, press “send.”

5. Only text during business hours

One way to respect professional boundaries — and candidates’ privacy — is to avoid texting applicants outside business hours. While it might be convenient to shoot off a quick text before bed, candidates may view such poorly timed messages as unprofessional.

This professionalism goes both ways. Just because a candidate has your phone number — and, hopefully, only your work number — that doesn’t mean they should be texting you at all hours.

6. Make sure your application site is mobile-optimized

Part of the appeal of texting during the recruiting process is its convenience. However, texts create more obstacles for candidates if they have to toggle between their mobile phones and computers to complete an application. 

With 61% of job applications now completed from a mobile device, ensuring your job site can handle mobile traffic is a must, especially if you’re using SMS to send links to job posts. Make sure your recruiting process is mobile-optimized from start to finish to avoid candidate frustration and application abandonment.

7. Template and automate SMS 

SMS templates help your team adhere to these best practices by modeling appropriate language and giving examples of when texting is appropriate. Templates also support brand voice consistency and a positive candidate experience.

To save even more time in the candidate communication process, you can use templates to automate your texting process. Much like email autoresponders, texting automation tools and platforms help you generate workflows based on applicant actions. For example, you can create an automated text to follow up with candidates after interviews.

Say yes to the text

When used correctly, SMS saves time, reduces time-to-hire, and improves your overall candidate experience.

But if you want to level up your recruiting game even more, consider combining the power of SMS with referrals. Referrals already have a more personal connection to a job posting, since a friend or colleague has recommended them. So they’re prime candidates for the increased personalization of SMS communication. 

Want to invest in a referral program that will help you connect with candidates? Schedule a demo of Staffing Referrals to learn more about our automated referral management program with texting capabilities.