Most of us text family and friends every day, and this now-ubiquitous form of communication is finding its way into the hiring process.
In a survey by Robert Half Technology, 67% of leaders said their company texts job candidates throughout the hiring process, and 48% of workers said they’ve received a text message from a potential employer.
Texting can be the easiest way to quickly set up interviews and send minor updates. “We often text candidates we have established relationships with,” says Elizabeth Ledbetter, vice president and metro market manager for The Creative Group in St. Louis, Mo. “It’s a great way to drive urgency, as well as keep candidates informed about job opportunities in real time.”
However, texting has its dangers in the recruiting world, as it’s prone to miscommunications. Autocorrect mistakes, anyone? It’s also very easy to misunderstand someone’s meaning or tone or miss important details when you’re reading and responding via text. Email generally allows you to take more time to compose a response, and you may better convey your meaning with a more detailed email than a text. And talking on the phone allows you to hear their voice and pick up subtle meanings that might be missed in a text.
Also, because texting is a more casual form of communication, you can easily seem unprofessional when you use shorthand or emojis, for example, or make an embarrassing error because you’re moving so fast.
So, if you’re a hiring manager should you text a candidate? And if you’re a candidate, should you text a hiring manager? Sure, but here are some guidelines to help you clearly communicate via text during the hiring process.
Texting tips for hiring managers
It’s easy to see why texting is appealing to hiring managers looking to speed up the interview process. Texting allows you to get updates from a candidate much more quickly than when using email.
While texting has many advantages, hiring managers should be thoughtful about how they use it. Always ask candidates if it’s okay to text them during the hiring process. While most job seekers would be happy to receive communication in any form from prospective employers, verify they’re open to text messages. Some people prefer to use texting only for personal communication.
In addition, remember what texting is best for: short, simple communication. Use it to schedule interviews or follow up after an interview. Avoid texting if you want to discuss job offers or salary negotiations — address more important items in person or on the phone.
Also make sure you text only during business hours. If you text a candidate late at night or on weekends, they may wonder about work-life boundaries at your company.
Texting tips for job candidates
It’s generally better to let the hiring manager text you first, even if you have their cell phone number. Stick to email or phone calls to communicate with a hiring manager who hasn’t texted you.
When texting a hiring manager, don’t hit Send until you make sure you’re texting the right person — and be 100% positive you’re not accidentally texting a prospective employer with a message meant for a friend. Also avoid using abbreviations, acronyms, emojis and gifs, as that can seem unprofessional. Write complete sentences and triple-check your spelling and grammar. With autocorrect, it’s easy to unintentionally introduce a typo or the wrong word altogether.
Use a more formal means of communication, such as email or a phone call, if you have important questions, changes in your job search or are accepting or declining an offer. Avoid negotiating salary via text, as well.
Texting can be a quick and convenient means of communicating for hiring managers and candidates. Just make sure you’re strategic in how you use it and it will help, instead of hinder, the hiring process.