By Jodi Roth on the Recruitics Blog
While it’s a given that the coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, some of the most noteworthy (and newsworthy) data involves how it has affected business operations and how many of us work. One of the key business areas that have been impacted is in how companies recruit new hires. With the requirements for social distancing, avoiding unnecessary contact with others, millions of workers rapidly transitioning into telework and the like, organizations have been motivated toward stepping up their existing recruiting methods and devising novel strategies.
Over the last few months, we’ve highlighted some of these, from the increased engagement of social media to how recruitment landing pages can be best utilized to attract quality candidates. There are also other factors that are impacting recruiting on an ongoing basis, such as changing demographics, retirement, more veterans entering the workforce and shifting modes of communication due to both social forces and the influence of technology.
The Impact of Digital
As we’re all aware, smartphones and cellphones have become ubiquitous in our society. According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 85% of these owning smartphones. Add to this the fact that 73% of US millennials and Gen Z’ers interact with each other digitally more than they do in real life (breezy.hr), and it’s easy to see how this has the potential to impact the recruitment market.
Obviously, the scope of digital technology and its widespread accessibility have been a boom to both businesses and job seekers in the age of the pandemic. Recently, texting in recruitment has risen in popularity for these very reasons, and many companies are using it to their advantage to connect with candidates and offer them a positive experience throughout this process.
As with many of the new recruitment strategies being implemented, while there are many benefits, there are also sound methods and best practices that companies should follow to make sure hiring professionals are on the right track. It’s also important for companies to ensure they are optimizing all of their efforts in this area.
This article will detail statistics relating to the growth in popularity of texting for recruitment in the pandemic, best practices for utilizing texting for recruitment, mistakes companies should avoid, and advice on how to prepare a texting strategy.
Texting in Recruiting: Statistics
Data shared from our partners at Nexxt, an HR technology company specializing in finding candidates through the use of multichannel marketing, shared that in 2020, half of all job seekers texted with a recruiter during the course of their job search. This increased into 2021, no doubt due to the ongoing pandemic. Based on a study conducted by the company, some recent statistics relative to texting in recruiting reflect:
• In 2021, new candidate text opt-ins grew by over 4 million
• Compared to 2020, there has been a 121% increase in text campaigns sent in 2021
• Text send volume has increased by 176% in 2021
• Texting campaigns averaged a 6.6% click-through ratio (CTR)
• Text conversation (two-way text) campaigns averaged a 5.6% response rate
• In comparing text CTRs to email marketing CTRs, texting performed better, with 6.6%, while email marketing averaged 3.9%
• Text open rates were significantly higher than email campaigns, with a 97% open rate compared to a 14% email open rate
Job seekers even preferred text-based campaigns to LinkedIn, at 36% vs. 23%, respectively. And they weren’t the only ones: when it came to communicating with candidates, recruiters also prefer texting (53%) to LinkedIn (38%).
The industries with the top text opt-in candidate respondents were:
• Merchandising, Purchasing & Retail
• Manufacturing & Production
• Travel, Hospitality & Restaurant
• Healthcare & Medical
• Sales & Sales Management
• Transportation & Logistics
• Customer Service
• Clerical & Administrative
• Information Technology
• Real Estate & Building Maintenance
To further break this down, the top performing industries included Military & Government (9.6%), Healthcare & Medical (7.2%), and Travel, Hospitality & Restaurant (5.9%). The majority of conversation campaigns sent were for Healthcare & Medical positions, which had a 5.7% response rate.
Meeting Candidates Where They Are
And it’s not just the pandemic that’s driving these preferences. Due to the aforementioned demographic, cultural and social dynamics that play into communication, it’s become more important for recruiters to meet candidates where they are, both literally (on their phones) and as regards their preferred communication methods.
Largely, this means enhancing the user experience as much as possible, speaking their language (literally and metaphorically) and taking their lifestyles into account. For example: According to Nexxt, in 2021, 96% of job seekers searched for jobs on their phones one or more times a day, and most are on their phones all day long. This means that they are extremely unlikely to miss any message relating to a potential job!
Recruitment Texting: Benefits and What to Know
Companies have already begun to see the benefits of texting as a strategy for recruitment. Texting can help quickly connect with candidates who are already in the pipeline, and allows recruiters to engage with candidates in real time. It can be used as an opportunity for lead generation to bring new candidates into the funnel. It also works well to promote immediate needs and developments, such as promoting hiring events or special offerings like sign on bonuses. Texting is an extremely affordable candidate acquisition channel that pairs nicely as a follow up to an email or other marketing tactic.
Texting is also highly useful in nurturing passive candidates in that it keeps a company’s brand top of mind and gives candidates an easy way to connect with recruiters if they want to have a conversation. Finally, texting offers and excellent medium for directly and quickly scheduling interviews with candidates.
Before getting started however, there are a few basics that employers and recruiters should know as they consider moving forward with this medium. The first of these is the difference between two-way texting and one-way texting, each of which have different uses and advantages.
One-way texting is the one-time sending of a text where candidates don’t have the opportunity to text back, as in a conversation. Companies use this sort of text all the time for different reasons; often the text will also contain a line advising the recipient not to attempt to reply to the message. With one-way texts to candidates, recruiters need to use limited character count wisely in order to sell them on what to do.
One-way texts work well if a company isn’t operationally ready to work any leads that respond in a timely manner (e.g., there’s relatively little information on the respondent). When using one-way texts, recruiters should have a place to send the candidates, such as a landing page with a short form. It’s also prudent to place tracking on the URL in the text, so that it’s possible to measure how many recipients responded.
Some common mistakes that companies often make when employing one-way texting have included:
• Spammy copy with no personalization
• No Call-to-Action (CTA)
• No tracking urls on the CTA to measure results
Operationally, two-way texts are more like the back-and-forth conversations people have with family or friends. Here, recruiters have the opportunity to have an actual conversation with a candidate. It’s a quicker way to connect with candidates to learn more and expedite them through the hiring process. Two-way texting offers more flexibility than one-way texting, and therefore more potential benefits.
In the current hiring landscape, the utility of two-way texting lies in the necessity for making a quick connection with candidates virtually. With the large numbers of job seekers on mobile devices, two-way works well for candidates who may not be at a computer all day, or candidates who don’t have the time or inclination to fill out a job application without being sold on doing so first.
According to Nexxt, 5 main benefits of using two-way texting for recruitment include:
• It streamlines communication with candidates.
• It modernizes the process and connects with candidates in real time where they are—on their phones.
• It accelerates connection with candidates for high priority hiring needs.
• It’s a great way to both increase the candidate pipeline and also nurture candidates currently in the CRM.
• It can shorten time-to-hire if used correctly and cut costs since it’s a more affordable marketing channel.
Two-way works well when a company has someone who can respond to the texts. It’s a great way to engage new candidates more quickly and even expedite the hiring process if recruiters can get them on the phone faster. It tends to work best with candidates who are actively looking or applying for jobs, since they are the ones who are going to be more likely to respond.
Some downsides to texting in general—or cautionary notes—include:
• The available candidates in a given query may be smaller than other channels such as email, since many people opt out of receiving texts.
• Recruiters will need to be extremely mindful of using limited character count for the text copy wisely, so that it doesn’t appear spammy.
• If using a 3rd party company for a list of candidates, hiring managers will not have as much insight initially into their quality.
• Often, recruiters may lack a resume when candidates respond, so it’s important to be prepared to be able to have initial conversations with candidates without that information.
Text Messaging Campaigns: Best Practices
Job seekers sign up to receive texts at various junctures during their job searches, even if they’re not entirely aware of it. Active job seekers typically fill out many applications and subscribe to various job boards where there are disclaimers and opt-ins through which they provide implicit permission to receive email and text communications.
Thus, in the interest of actually engaging with job seekers instead of driving them away, it’s in interest to stick to best practices when crafting a texting recruitment strategy. Below, we’ve listed some of these, as well as processes that need to be in place before reaching out to candidates:
• Recruiters—or the vendor being used—must have permission to send the text.
• Know your audience and make the campaign broad or narrow, depending on the role.
• Create a “copy for texts” checklist, so no important points are missed.
• Get to the point, avoid fluff, and communicate information that will drive the user to click the link in the message.
• Make sure the message being sent is relevant and makes sense to who recruiters are trying to reach (For example, some candidates with entry level roles may have a lower commute tolerance, so recruiters may want to do a 5 mile radius around a location versus a 20 mile radius for those).
• If sending a two-way text, make sure that the company is operationally ready to respond to the texts, and in a timely fashion. To this end, it’s a good idea to have someone on staff block the majority of their day to watch for responses, and then block an hour or two the next few days to catch up on any responses that may come in.
• If a two-way text campaign is a lead generation campaign, have a process in place to ensure that the leads who respond are getting imported into the CRM.
• Adding personalization to the text—such as a first name, may make it feel more authentic and less spammy.
• Campaigns with sign on or relocation bonuses, or competitive compensation dollar amounts tend to see stronger performance.
So, if a company that’s interested in texting for recruitment, we’ve included a good framework for planning above. The next big step will be for recruiters to pick a vendor they trust, who has permission to send text messages and also who also has good quality leads. The next major steps are as follows:
• Identify the goal of the campaign / what success will look like.
• Identify the query and budget available.
• Identify the copy for text message and what the CTA will be.
• Identify and train the sourcer, recruiter, or whomever will be working the leads on the platform.
• Ensure there’s a process in place to import the leads into the CRM and tag them for source tracking.
Texting for recruitment has grown in popularity as of late, and many companies are using it to their advantage to meet candidates where they are and offer an excellent candidate experience. Since it’s a fairly novel paradigm, there are sure to be developments and ongoing improvements in the process that will serve both businesses and job seekers.