Texting Grows as a Recruiting Tool, But Tracking Lags

Texting

Over the last year or so a number of companies have entered the HR technology market with platforms designed to neatly integrate text messaging into recruiting. Among other things, they argue texting is an important talent-acquisition channel because texts are almost universally read and are the preferred communication medium for many younger workers.

New research from Robert Half Technology indicates they might be right. According to a survey by the company, 67 percent of IT decision makers say their organization uses texting to coordinate interviews with prospective hires. Meanwhile, nearly half—48 percent—of U.S. workers said they’ve received a text message from a potential employer.

67% of IT decision makers say their organization uses texting to coordinate interviews with prospective hires. @RobertHalfTech #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

“There’s no question that texting offers the best way for recruiters to increase their response rates and speed up the hiring cycle,” said Euan Hayward, founder and CEO of Emissary.ai, a New York business that provides text messaging tools for recruiters. However, he adds, organizations do need to think through their texting strategy carefully to make sure it’s implemented the right way.”

According to IT managers and workers, the ability to communicate quickly is texting’s big advantage. At the same time, they saw possible downsides, such as the possibility of miscommunication.

Seventeen percent of technology professionals believe texting is too personal and invasive to be used as a recruiting tool, RHT said. The same amount considered it unprofessional, compared to 29 percent of IT managers. Interestingly, 14 percent of tech pros said texting poses no problem, and is even welcome, during the recruiting dance.

Echoing the pitch of many vendors, Ryan Sutton, a district president of RHT, said that texting “may mean the difference in getting to your top candidate first and fast, especially at a time when they could be receiving multiple offers.”

Sutton acknowledged, however, that texting has its limitations. “Watch your etiquette,” he said. That means asking permission before you engage, use texting for simple topics like scheduling interviews and only send messages during business hours. (Hayward’s Emissary has published a recruiter’s guide to texting here.)

Waiting for Integrated Tracking

While most recruiters are intrigued by texting’s possibilities, many seem content to let others blaze the trail. Among other things, they’re not convinced messaging offers the same back-end capabilities that email does. “We usually contact or have discussions via email because that’s how it’s tracked in our ATS,” said one. That said, his company uses texts in unexpected situations, such as when an interview’s time must change or the hiring manager has to cancel.

Integration with ATS products—or the lack of it—seems to be the issue that makes recruiters most hesitant about using text. For employers who emphasize tracking and using data to manage and improve their talent-acquisition process, such integrations are a requirement. Currently, said one, text is “only a separate tool that gets added on. But if there’s a CRM piece or an ATS that integrates into the communication piece so we can track it, then I’d absolutely use it.”

Vendors are taking note of such hesitation. Several of them highlight the metrics and tracking tools offered by their text products, though it’s less clear how many have developed full integrations with ATS products. Other products, like TextUs and TextRequest, can be layered on top of an ATS or CRM.

Disclosure: Mark Feffer has worked as a freelance writer for Emissary.ai.

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