Move over email – SMS is the new face of recruitment. For the past 20 years, email has been utilized to become a powerhouse in the recruiting world. But the rise in phone ownership in the past 7 years, from 35% of Americans reporting owning a cell phone in 2011 up to 95% in 2016 according to the Pew Research Center, has resulted in cell phones becoming deeply engrained in many people’s daily lives. From texting to checking email to social media, smart phones in particular have become an extension of people.

So we get it, a lot of people have phones. What exactly is it about SMS that makes it so effective for recruiting? Well to start, texts have a 90% open rate, as compared to a 20% email open rate. That 70% increase sets you up to present your opportunity to many more people, exposure that serves to raise brand awareness and get more responses. Additionally, 90% of texts are read within the first 3 minutes, making SMS a faster way to get your message out to your candidates. (Some companies are going beyond texting – for example, McDonald’s is now using Snapchat for recruiting too!)

Texting also offers the ability to connect with those “hard to reach” people who may not check their email regularly, but are still good matches for your open role. Sixty two percent of people check their email less than 10 times per day, whereas the average person checks their phone 150 times per day. Knowing that a phone is 15x more likely to be checked than email means a better chance for your message to be received by the people you’re targeting.

Texting also offers a quick way to set up and communicate details about interviews. How many times has an interview time changed, a candidate had a last-minute question, or there was a simple miscommunication that cascaded into more problems because you weren’t able to get in touch? Texting helps solve that problem, giving you and your candidate a simple way to communicate in case questions or concerns arise.

Clearly, text messages are read more often and connect with more people than a conventional email. But how do you get started sending these SMS campaigns? It can seem like a daunting task, but isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Happie’s candidate outreach platform has a simple interface that makes reaching out to candidates easy for you. SMS sequences, automated nurture campaigns, and an easy-to-use platform makes your introduction to SMS recruiting simple. Sign up for a demo here if interested!

Here are the main components to remember when creating a SMS outreach plan:

1) Finding accurate phone numbers.
The first step in any SMS campaign (and the most perplexing at first glance) is simply finding the correct numbers to reach people. However, you likely have many resources at your fingertips you didn’t even know about! For example, most CV’s have updated phone numbers to reach these candidates, as well as some LinkedIn profiles. Beamery also has some helpful tips; “If you’re looking for contact numbers for additional candidates, tools like ZoomInfoLusha or Spokeo often have the answer. A subscription to one of these tools can be worth its weight in gold if you’re trying to build a lead list.”

2) Creating content.
Crafting content that fits in the 160 character texting limit, and conveys your open role well is the next step in creating your campaign. The details of your role are fairly straightforward, but you need to be sure to create copy that is appropriate for your audience. For example, if you’re looking for a social media and marketing associate, it could be safe to assume that they’re more well versed in emoji vocab. You can test out a few smiley faces here and there to see how your candidates react. If you’re looking for a construction supervisor, short, sweet, and sans smiley faces is likely the way to go.

Remember that your messages are still representing your brand, so you don’t want to come off as unprofessional. Use your best judgement when communicating with your candidates, since you know your brand best!

3) Keep it short and sweet.
Candidates don’t want to receive an essay or even an email length text to their phone, they want you to get to the point. SMS allows you to concisely get your message across in a casual, yet professional manner. Texts typically have a 160 character limit, meaning you really have to optimize those characters to get the responses you’re looking for. If you’re thinking “Geez where do I even start with knowing how to create messages this short?” – you’re not alone! Here is a handy list of templates from TextUs to help get you started.

When considering your space limits, you also need to keep in mind how much information the candidate will need to respond with. Candidates likely won’t want to type out their entire work history in a text message, so use these messages to gauge initial interest and set up a phone or web chat to gain more information later.

For example;

“Hi Megan, thank you for your response! I am intrigued by your experiences, you’ve done a lot of cool things! What was it like interning at NASA?”

No! While we’re all interested in hearing about what it is like working at NASA, texts like this that ask for a longer response will either annoy the candidate or give you an incomplete picture of what they’re trying to convey. Move the conversation along to a call, web chat, etc that allows you to get the full picture.

“Hi Megan- thanks for your interest! You look like a great candidate for this role. I’d love to hop on a call to chat more. Do you have any free time tomorrow?”
Yes! This message works well because it is short and sets up a time to connect later where you can ask more in-depth questions.

4) Keep timing in mind.

By now, you’re probably feeling ready to go and excited to start your own texting campaign! Another important rule of any messaging that goes to a candidate’s personal device (personal phone in this case) is being sensitive to the timing of the messages. When surveyed, 82% of candidates preferred to be contacted between 8am and 4pm, essentially within business hours. Waking a candidate up or disturbing their sleep to send them a job prospect does not start the conversation on a positive note.

Another way to quickly sour a conversation with a potential hire is by taking too long to respond. SMS is a quick way to get in touch with candidates, and that speed applies to responses, not simply the first message. Respond promptly to your candidates as they respond to your messages, and don’t let messages sit in your inbox for too long. Keeping these response times fast and setting up a next step quickly helps to ensure you don’t bother your candidates.

Lastly, take care not to spam your candidates. Keep your texts to 2-3 messages if no response, and be sure to give them a clear way to stop receiving messagesshould they want to be removed from your outreach.

5) Appropriate Responses.

So you have your candidates, copy, proper timing etiquette, and you launched your first SMS campaign – congratulations! And now the responses are coming back in… so now what? How do you manage all of the replies?

Take a deep breath and handle these responses as you would any other campaign! Keep your responses prompt and short, and work to move your candidates through the pipeline into next conversations.

One big mistake to avoid is rejecting people via text. That is unprofessional and gives off the image that your company does not care about their potential hires. Negative interactions like this can spread quickly across the internet. Remember that you are representing your company’s brand as you have these exchanges, so remain professional and refrain from giving important news over text!

6) TCPA Guidelines

When reaching out to potential candidates over text, you need to be sure you’re in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines. You can download and read the guidelines here.


And there you have it, SMS recruiting campaigns are that easy to create! With higher open rates, quick read rate, and fast communication times, text messages are rapidly becoming the future of recruiting. Use these tips and tricks to set up your SMS campaigns will help you hit the ground running and get those responses quickly.


Happy texting!


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