How to Use Text Messaging In Holiday & Seasonal Hiring (Part 1)

Earlier this month I visited one of my favorite stores and was so excited to see that this retailer was using text messaging as part of their seasonal hiring strategy. It’s funny that text messaging and SMS aren’t as widely used as other, more traditional social media channels since it’s been around longer and is just as widely used. When I saw the recruiting sign hanging in the store, I thought to myself, this company is doing it right. Their potential candidate pool is made up of those who are comfortable with technology and want to be able to connect with a potential employer instantly, making it a perfect tool.

How Recruiting Via SMS Works

If using this mobile technology in recruiting is new to you, it’s ok. The fact is, it’s just not very widely accepted at this point. You probably get the concept, but here’s a little insight into what exactly it looks like in recruiting: Candidates are invited to connect with the company via text message or SMS. This could be the initial contact point, such as the sign I saw prompting me to text them, or could be something a candidate opts into during the application process or the company’s career page.  From this point, the employer has the ability to ask qualifying questions, such as zip code, which I was asked after I texted the number provided at the store mentioned above. They can also share application status updates, interview information, announcements, sources for further information, or direct to an app that a candidate can download. The possibilities are endless. Utilizing text messaging for your hiring process is only the beginning, as businesses can use VoIP systems to connect all communication into one inbox. This makes it easier for hiring managers to contact qualified applicants.

How to Make Hiring by Text Messaging Work for You

The very nature of seasonal hiring is what I like to call fast and loose. You certainly do your due diligence but it happens very quickly, so you need a technology that can keep up with that pace. This is where text messaging and SMS can change your world. (At least your world from October to December!)

You’ve set up your automated text message or SMS system and advertised that candidates can apply by texting a simple word to a short number. The important part now is that you take advantage of the short time frame when you are on the candidate’s mind by asking the right questions, providing the right incentive and knocking down any barriers to them applying. Use these tips to help make a good impression:

Keep It Short and Sweet

Don’t ask three questions when one will suffice. How about zip code? And even better follow up with the asking them to select one of four job titles to target them specifically.

Be a Little Braggy

Does your company offer an employee discount, an incentive for working the whole holiday season, a higher-than-average wage or a fun environment? Tell them about it!

Don’t Make It Complicated

Make it as easy as possible to apply. If they can apply through text, don’t direct them to an online application. If they can read about the job through a text, don’t ask them to visit your website for a job description. I would love someone to allow for a candidate to apply via text message. We’re not there yet so I’ll settle to direct them to a website or store kiosk where they can apply and interview immediately. 

These are important aspects of striking while the iron is hot and grabbing a candidate’s attention, but the benefit of using text messaging or SMS in your seasonal recruiting goes far beyond the initial touch points. Watch for part 2 and part 3. Learn how to add text messaging to your recruitment strategy in 2015.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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