SMS Recruiting 101 - A Guide for Modern HR Professionals

October 20, 2023 | By Jesse Liszka from Paylocity
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The current candidate market can be stressful for modern recruiters trying to generate leads and build a diverse candidate pool. Once you find that perfect candidate, it’s like a race to get them on board before a savvier competitor snatches them up. That’s why talent acquisition professionals must always be on the lookout for new ways to reach out and connect meaningfully with candidates.

SMS recruiting could be the answer. Mobile phones are such a ubiquitous part of our daily lives that texting is often the fastest way to get a message to someone. So, why not use this to strengthen talent acquisition efforts?

This article will explain what SMS recruitment is and how it benefits modern HR professionals. We’ll also go over some best practices and use cases.

What is SMS Recruiting?

SMS recruiting (or text message recruiting) is a way to engage candidates at each stage of the hiring process—from sourcing all the way through to onboarding—just via text message. Modern HR professionals use SMS to communicate with job hunters about opportunities, interviews, and follow-ups.

Human resource management involves many complex processes, but you can keep communications simple. Let’s look at some examples of how HR professionals can use SMS recruiting to improve the hiring process.

SMS Recruiting Examples

Sourcing candidates

Recruiters can use mass texting campaigns to share job opportunities with multiple potential candidates at once.

Hiring event followup

Your existing recruiting strategy may include hiring events or webinars. SMS is a great way to follow up with potential applicants after making first contact.

Recruiting text example


Simplify the application experience by implementing a text-to-apply campaign. Candidates can apply and answer a few simple questions from their phones, allowing recruiters to collect application details and relevant data. You can also use these questions to pre-screen candidates.

Interview scheduling and reminders

Automatically share the hiring team’s availability through an SMS link and allow the applicant to select a date and time that suits them. You can also use SMS for interview reminders and appointment confirmation texts to make sure no one’s time is wasted.

Updates and next steps

Keep the hiring process moving by providing updates and next steps via SMS. Sending a message to let candidates know that the decision-making process is underway is a small way to keep them in the loop and nurture connections.

Feedback request

It’s important to get feedback from candidates after an interview to ensure a quality hiring process going forward and get ahead of any negative feedback that would otherwise be vented about online.

Starting the onboarding process

In the case of a successful application, kick off the onboarding process via text message. This could mean sending reminders to complete paperwork, which may be different depending on non exempt vs. exempt employees. Or, you could use SMS simply to check in with the new hire and answer any queries ahead of their start date.

Benefits of SMS Recruiting

Saves time

Think of all the time the average recruiter spends on the phone or else writing and responding to emails. Shifting some communication to text is a real timesaver because it allows you to be brief and direct and even automate some of your responses.

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Better candidate experience

Put yourself in your candidates' shoes—job hunting can be a grueling process. Chances are, they’re juggling multiple opportunities on different timelines. If your organization is reachable by SMS for any questions they may have, then you’ll stand out from other recruiters for providing an easier experience.

Meet audiences where they are

The most effective recruiting efforts make use of their audience’s preferred methods of communication. If you’re targeting millennials and Gen Z, texting can be a great way to build rapport. By communicating in a mode that your candidates are comfortable with, you can create important connections.

Reduce no-shows

Phone calls can be ignored. Emails can sit unopened for days or weeks. If you want to know whether a candidate is going to show up, an SMS reminder might be your best bet. With confirmation texts and reminders, HR professionals can make sure they are not wasting valuable time on no-shows.

Best Practices When Using SMS Recruiting

Automate where possible

Automation is a major selling point of SMS. Rather than copying and pasting the same responses over and over again, you can create standard messages for specific situations. For example, you could line up a confirmation of application receipt to be sent automatically when you receive an application.

This is not the only way automation is revolutionizing HR operations. It’s worth researching how to do payroll and streamline training with AI-powered solutions. A comprehensive HR platform will help automate many of the routine tasks, leaving you to focus on the bigger picture.

Schedule SMS messages

With SMS recruitment, you can fire off relevant messages when applicants reach certain stages of the process or when job hunters are the most receptive to new offers. This may take some trial and error, but once you know how to schedule a text, you can strategically time communications to fit in with candidates’ schedules.

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Personalize communications

While automation is your friend, you also want to avoid making your messages read as too generic. Messages should feel personal (even if they are templated). Including fields for candidates' names and other personal details helps make them feel more valued and inclined to respond.

Keep short and professional

When communicating via SMS, avoid being overly familiar—remember, you’re reaching out in a professional capacity. Focus on sharing information as concisely as possible. You want to be friendly and approachable, but don’t bombard potential future employees with a block of text.

Ensure compliance

Ensuring compliance with privacy regulations is non-negotiable. You should only ever send SMS to candidates who have opted-in to receive texts. To avoid a compliance snag, all HR professionals should be familiar with local, state, and national regulations. Always include the option to opt out, and be careful with sensitive information over SMS.

Test, measure, and optimize

Before sending to a candidate, test your SMS messages to see how they will appear on iPhone and Android. You can experiment with different CTAs, words, and spacing in the testing phase.

You should also measure the success of your SMS recruitment efforts. You could measure hires made through text messaging, candidate satisfaction, or text message response rates. Then, you have data to work with when you’re looking to optimize future campaigns.

Final Thoughts

Done right, SMS recruitment methods like text-to-apply can be a game-changer for HR professionals looking to reach and engage candidates. Keep an eye on compliance and see how your recruitment process can benefit from SMS.

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