Back to blogs

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Text Messaging Candidates

Posted by
Dave Anderson
May 6, 2023

When done correctly, engaging candidates via text messaging increases response rates, accelerates hiring, and boosts candidate satisfaction. But we need to emphasize the “when done correctly” part of that sentence.

Given that text messaging is still a new form of candidate communication, some recruiters haven’t quite mastered the ins and outs of connecting with candidates on their phones. And others are resistant to adopt it because they don’t want to make a texting misstep that aggravates a potential hire.

But in the near future, texting will go from a nice-to-have candidate communication channel to a necessary part of every organization’s recruiting strategy. In this blog post, we’ll highlight ten mistakes to avoid when text messaging candidates, and provide tips for successfully engaging candidates through text.

Mistake 1: Text candidates who haven’t opted into receiving messages

Text messaging is a personal method of communication that we typically engage in with friends, family members, and other people in our social network. Even if you’re genuinely sharing a job opportunity with a qualified candidate, your text can come across as invasive and spammy if they don’t know who you are or what your organization does. 

One of the best ways to ensure that your messages are well-received is to only contact candidates who have opted in to receiving text communications from you. This can be achieved by including a simple check box on your job applications, asking candidates if they want to receive text message updates from your organization.

Additionally, if you collect phone numbers from candidates at job fairs or hiring events, it's important to inform them that you may share relevant job opportunities via text. Most candidates will happily welcome text messages from you, as long as they’re expecting them.

Mistake 2: Send long text messages to candidates

When contacting a candidate for the first time, you may have a lot of information to share about the role you’re hiring for. However, a text message should always be short and to the point, and never look like a block of words on the candidate’s phone screen. 

Consider only sharing the main details of the role to start — such as the job title and location — and asking the candidate if they want to learn more. By keeping your initial text message short and sweet, you can gauge the candidate's interest and initiate a conversation. If they say they want to learn more about the role, you can then follow up with additional details and ask them questions that move the hiring process forward.

Mistake 3: Use emojis or special characters in your candidate text messages

While emojis and special characters (e.g., !, #, $) are fun to use in text messages with personal contacts, it’s best to avoid including them in candidate text messages for a couple of different reasons.

First and foremost, mobile carriers have spam filters in place for text messages that come from unknown numbers. Including emojis and certain special characters can trigger those filters and prevent your message from reaching the candidate. 

Secondly, emojis and special characters may not be accessible to candidates who have visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, or are non-native English speakers. It's critical that your candidate communications across all channels are inclusive and easily understandable to every person you engage.

Mistake 4: Send generic text messages to candidates

Sending a generic text message to a candidate comes across as impersonal and unengaging — and again can be perceived as spam. If you want to capture a candidate’s attention, you need to make the message feel as if it was written specifically for them by including details like their name and the location of the role. 

The good news is that it’s easy to reach multiple candidates at once with personalized messages. Using a Talent Engagement Platform like Sense, you can mass text a group of qualified candidates to share a new role you’re hiring for. Our platform integrates with your ATS/CRM and populates the message with relevant details to ensure every text is tailored to every candidate. 

By personalizing the messages you use in mass texting campaigns, you’re showing sincere interest in each candidate, which increases your response rates and fills your hiring funnel with great talent. 

Mistake 5: Send poorly written or off-brand text messages to candidates

When a text message has grammar or spelling errors, lacks proper punctuation, or is poorly structured, it looks unprofessional and sloppy. And even if a message is error-free, it still needs to have a brand voice and tone that is consistent across all your recruitment marketing efforts. 

That’s where messaging templates come in handy. Instead of asking recruiters to craft a new message every time they engage a candidate (and risk it missing the mark), you can upload templates to your Talent Engagement Platform to use in common communications with candidates. Templates can include placeholders that are automatically populated with relevant details so text messages are sent with the right information and language.


Mistake 6: Text candidates at inappropriate times

Unlike email, which people often check at their own convenience, text messaging is an instant form of communication that demands our immediate attention. That means that texting a candidate at an inappropriate time almost always comes across as inconsiderate.

You should be aware of what timezone candidates are in and avoid texting them on weekends, evenings, or early mornings. However, there is one exception to this rule: If a candidate engages you after hours, you should have an AI Chatbot that instantly responds and provides them with the information they’re looking for. That way you keep the hiring process on track and prevent the candidate from losing interest in your role.

Mistake 7: Send text messages candidates can’t respond to

In some cases, you’ll want a candidate to take action outsides of the text message conversation, like clicking a link to apply for a job. While it’s okay to use links sparingly in texts, you should avoid sending messages from a no-reply number that the candidate can’t respond to. 

After all, people are accustomed to conversing back and forth via text. The candidate might have questions about the role before they’re ready to apply, and they should be able to ask those questions on the channel you engaged them on.

Instead of sending a link to a job application, it’s better to use an AI Chatbot to continually engage the candidate within the text message conversation. If the candidate responds with questions, the chatbot will answer them. And if they’re interested in applying, the chatbot will collect their details and instantly schedule an interview.  

Mistake 8: Make candidates wait days (or even hours) for a response

Given that we all have our phones within arm's length most of the day, the expectation is that we respond to texts as quickly as possible. And as a recruiter, you’re likely leveraging text messaging to get faster responses from candidates. But candidates expect the same promptness from you. 

Once again, an AI Chatbot can help you provide candidates with the information they’re looking for — as quickly as possible. Even when you’re busy or offline, the chatbot will instantly respond to the candidate, helping reduce drop-off and keep the hiring process moving forward. 

Mistake 9: Discussing sensitive information with candidates via text

Compared to phone and email, text messaging is a casual candidate communication channel. Recruiters should keep in mind that many candidates won’t feel comfortable sharing their personal information or discussing sensitive job details via text.

For example, if you need to ask a candidate for their social security number or want to discuss compensation, that conversation is often best had in person or over the phone. Texting is a great channel for getting a candidate’s attention but you should transition to a person-to-person conversation in the final stages of the hiring process.

Mistake 10: Continue to text message candidates who have asked you to stop

The reality is some candidates you text won’t be interested in your role and will ask you to stop contacting them. When that happens, you should immediately comply with their request and remove them from your contact list.

Even more, you should offer candidates the option to opt out of text communication the first time you contact them (e.g., “Reply ‘stop’ to unsubscribe”). After all, one of the reasons you’re texting candidates is to improve their hiring experience. Continuing to bombard them with messages they don’t want has the opposite effect and almost guarantees they won’t reach out in the future when they are interested in a new role.

Make text messaging the primary way you engage candidates

The most innovative recruiting teams are using text messaging powered by a Talent Engagement Platform to connect with candidates at critical times in their hiring journey. If you want to learn more best practices for mastering candidate text messaging, check out our recent webinar.

Read more