How to Use SMS for Holiday Hiring and Staffing – Part 2

Check out part one of our holiday text messaging series by clicking here. Learn more about using technology in your HR and recruiting efforts by buying my new ebook, The HR Technology Field Guide

If you caught part one of this series, you know how excited I was to see that one of my favorite retailers made the decision to use text messaging and SMS in their seasonal recruiting strategy. I talked about how it’s an under-utilized aspect of social recruiting that can make your life a lot easier when recruiting seasonal workers and even touched on tips for making a solid first impression. What I didn’t share there was how valuable it is for engaging candidates both throughout the hiring process and long-term, and even in developing a pipeline of candidates.

Pictured above, you see my candidate pipeline and recruiting funnel. SMS can absolutely help you engage and qualify candidates. After encouraging candidates to text the short code and join your career text community, you can further qualify them and direct them to the best community, resource or specific job opening. But beyond asking candidates for information like their zip code, types of positions they are interested in and or graduation date, there are a lot of other options for using text messaging in recruiting and hiring.

Interview Reminders & Other Time-sucking tasks via Text

We know how important it is to maintain communication with a candidate during the hiring process, but I’d bet that sometimes you feel like throwing your hands up and saying, “Who has the time?!” One of the advantages of using text and SMS is that you can set up automated messages to let candidates know you received their application, where you are in the selection process, if they qualify for an interview and even to set up an interview. If you’re concerned about this method being too impersonal, the good news is that today’s workforce is generally very comfortable with this technology as an accepted form of communication. Additionally, you can customize your messages so they don’t feel so stiff.

Texting as a Form of Candidate Experience

We’ve all been in the position where we apply for a job and are disappointed and confused when we never hear back from the company. Use this technology to make sure that none of your candidates have to be in that situation. This can be the difference between never speaking with the candidate again and being able to reach out to them next season, and even the difference between someone who now has a tainted view of your company and someone who continues to be engaged, shop there and maybe even re-apply next year. When letting someone know they didn’t get the job, be tactful, give them a reason if possible (such as availability), encourage them to reach out to you next year (if you want them to) and if you’d like, go a step further and let them know you’ll reach out next holiday season.

Funnel These Candidates to Your Talent Network or Recruiting Pipeline

I’m always amazed at how companies put an incredible amount of time and effort into their seasonal recruiting, only to turn around next year and start back at square one. When you use text messaging and SMS, you then have an entire database of candidates (both those you hired this season and those you didn’t) who you can reach personally with just the push of a button. You don’t have to be top of mind all year because you can reach them personally when you’re ready to hire next season. Additionally, most retail environments consistently have positions open, so utilize the pipeline you developed for those positions as well.

Think beyond what most retailers do every October, November or whatever your busy season happens to be, which is reactive recruiting, and use text messaging and SMS. By proactively using the opportunity to engage an audience of prospects for multiple holiday seasons, you’ll engage candidates for years as they gain more experience and education and their work availabilities or times change.

Check out part one of our holiday text messaging series by clicking here. Learn more about using technology in your HR and recruiting efforts by buying my new ebook, The HR Technology Field Guide

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.

Reader Interactions


  1. jigna B. says

    Hey Jessica, Great Article… I personally feel that texting is one of the best approaches for the candidates as this never fails… it definitely depends upon various factors like, timing, message, purpose, audience etc. But it always delivers results. You can also manage these stuff with using an applicant tracking system that can even manage your texting history 🙂


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