5 Templates For a Successful Text Recruiting Program

text messaging, recruiting, text recruiting

When it comes to text messaging, I’ve never been more all in. It’s the new candidate engagement tool and it drives results you really won’t believe. Remember 2009 when LinkedIn Recruiter was shiny and new like a fresh minted quarter? Do you remember how you were blown away by the responses from candidates and the quality of job seekers you found? Texting is the new LinkedIn Recruiter, only better, because there is no middle man. We talk directly to the candidate.

In the United States, texting remains the premier form of communciation in terms of offering a 99% read rate. Email, push notifications and even LinkedIn InMails can’t guarantee these type of numbers or percentages. Text messaging can be a game changer for your talent acquisition efforts. It is up to us, as recruiters, however, to choose our candidate engagement and messaging choices wisely. Hopefully, we’ve learned our lessons from LinkedIn. Engagement is at what some believe is at an all time low.

Recently, LinkedIn’s recruiting team shared their InMail response rates have been lagging at 30%. This same blog article on the Talent Solutions Blog discusses how the new LinkedIn Recruiter platform which recently relaunched has increased their InMail response rates from 30-85%. LinkedIn’s InMail response rate is impressive, but they are LinkedIn so the expectation is that they should be the best at their own technology.

Whether it’s LinkedIn InMails or other forms of recruiter to candidate communication, we can and do absolutely over-message and over-engage candidates. Candidate engagement not a numbers game. This is where I believe recruiting is truly different than sales. It’s a game of quality touches and engagements with qualified job seekers. You don’t just smile and dial or InMail and end. If we don’t become more selective with the number of messages we send to job seekers, text messaging will no longer be effective in engagement (similar to InMails) and will also lead to angry online reviews and other word of mouth that damages that employment brand you’ve been working so hard to create and maintain.

Types of Text Messaging Recruiting

If you are using text messaging purely for the purposes of candidate engagement and communciation, there are a number of ways to reach out to the candidate directly. This direct engagement and communication strategy is different than using a shortcode to build a mailing or customer list via text. This text messaging strategy can absolutely be successful. However, it’s not what this blog is about. I’m not asking you to ask your candidates to text ‘JOBS’ to 12345. Recruiters will be sending specific, targeted and customized text messages to candidates and job seekers.  Yes, you can use free text messaging technology like Google Voice and Viber. However, these don’t offer the reporting functions that can really help establish the ROI investment and results data that are in stark contrast to other current technologies you might be leveraging. A number of companies like TextUs and TextRecruit exist that offer paid services for managing, monitoring, analytics and reporting of your text recruiting done by your talent acquisition teams.

#1 – The Cold Reachout

You can use text messaging to text directly to candidates you don’t have a relationship with. It’s quick and easy to determine their interest in a role and most importantly determine if they are an active candidate who is interested in learning more. This is where further qualifying in the form of a phone call can help expedite your efforts. In many cases the response is immediate, improving your time to fill and lower recruiting costs per candidate.


#2 – The Follow Up

Candidates, regardless of whether their role, experience level or candidate quality, need to to know where they stand in the recruiting process. Recruiting is a mix of a long and short game. Going back to employment branding and the candidate experience, the text message can be a great way to give a candidate a quick status update or follow up on where they are in the hiring process without having to answer their phone calls or send an email that probably won’t be seen.


#3 – Interview Confirmation

While candidates have the best intentions, most don’t go to such lengths to include physical addresses including office numbers at their fingertips. Not every person is like me and makes sure to include notes in calendar and meeting requests. Use text messaging to make it easy for candidates. Confirm their interview 24 hours before the scheduled time via text. Include the address of the interview location including suite or office number so they can easily put it into their Google or Apple maps.


#4 – Re-establishing Contact

Unfortunately, most applicant tracking systems aren’t built like a candidate relationship manager, or CRM tool, allowing recruiters to source talent in their own databases and leave notes for the recruiter themselves or others, like one would do in a traditional customer relationship manager technology like SalesForce. Text messaging services within a CRM can make it easier for recruiters to stay engaged with candidates or re-establish contact with a candidate who interviewed or applied for roles previously but wasn’t offered the job. Whether you use a CRM or not, text messaging is a quick way to engage a candidate who you’ve had a previous relationship with; one that let’s you customize the message for that truly special touch.


#5 – Other Communication

Using text messaging to push candidates through the hiring process, including on boarding, employment testing or assessments, is a great way to gently remind them to complete a task so that we, as recruiting leaders, can push through the hiring process. Companies like AT&T use text messaging as a way to do just that. Texting isn’t their only source of communication. They use texting as a way to follow up on conversations with many of these text messages being automated especially in those hard to fill roles like STEM or physicians where high quality candidates are in demand with the competition.


However you are using text messaging in engaging your candidates, it’s important to provide message templates and resources for your recruiting team to set them up for success. These 5 templates can get you started. Talk to them about the importance of personalization and customization and what response rate success looks like. Share your successes and failures. We’re all learning how to engage on this medium.

Most importantly, set your expectations on how you expect your recruiters to reach out to candidates. Text messaging is immediate, effective and is hard to ignore. Together we can help change the opinion and stereotypes of recruiters in how they interact with our candidates.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Avatar999drugs.com says

    Thanks for reviewing the types of text messaging. It is now a very popular marketing tool and it is important to know the ways of its proper use to get maximum effect.

  2. AvatarJean-Christophe Chouinard says

    I like your templates but mostly the idea of building a job bank through SMS in this new era of recruiting that advantages the job seeker. However, I would think recruiters have to think about who they are hiring. This strategy can hurt a brand if their target employees are conservative or not open to new technologies. They could find it invasive to be texted whereas a call has not the same “spammy” connotation to it.

    Also, the templates are good and useful. I would add this warning. Shorteners such as “ur”, “w/”, and “mgr” are not the way to go for any prospects. Make sure to speak the right way for the right person.

    Anyway, keep up the good work

    • Jessica Miller-MerrellJessica Miller-Merrell says

      Thanks Jean-Christopher, Surprisingly I have had several clients from very conservative industries like life sciences that have had the most success with text messaging. I do agree with you about the abbreviations. The conservation company opted to change their messaging to not include the abbreviated messages, while another client in temporary staffing was fine with it. It really depends on the individual recruiter and/or company when thinking about messaging and branding.

      Thank you for your comment.