In a recent survey of recruitment specialists*, a strong theme emerged. It’s extremely difficult for recruiters to contact candidates at all points throughout the recruitment journey. But could an SMS service provide the answer?
The biggest communication challenge in recruitment
The job market is extremely tight and competitive. Identification of suitable applicants is easier with all the tools now available to recruiters, but high-quality candidates are constantly approached by recruiters both internal or from agencies.
When you find a good candidate, you must move fast to make an offer before they are tempted elsewhere. Your customer wants a vacant position filled as quickly as possible – so there is great pressure to act quickly.
This is where the most common challenge for human resources teams – capturing the candidate’s engagement and getting them to respond – is felt most. You can’t secure a candidate or confirm an offer if you can’t reach the applicant.
When questioned about the most challenging aspect of communication, the survey response was clear. Comments included: “Response back from candidates is delayed”, “If they don’t answer their phones it can take a while to get a response”, “Emails getting caught in spam filters”, “Response rate and response time”, “Getting them [candidates] to respond”, and “Crafting a message that gets their attention”. Clearly, it’s a big problem!
Recruiters in the survey reported using a range of methods in attempting to contact candidates: email, SMS, phone calls, social media, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat. The research compared the rate of candidates’ responses within the first 10 minutes of receiving the recruiter’s message via each channel.
Phone and emails not delivering the best response rate
The main methods of communication reported by participants were email or phone calls. However, neither channel delivered the best response rate.
While the response rate to phone calls was 49 percent, feedback indicate that there is an increasing reluctance by candidates to answer phone calls, with respondents citing “People not answering their phone”, “Getting candidates to pick up the phone”, “Voicemail boxes being full” and “Candidates not answering phone calls” as the greatest challenge.
Email, the second most common communication method used by recruiters, was even less successful with response rates languishing at 14 percent, even lower than the industry rate of 21 percent.
Social media channels came in at 13 percent, while messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat – had moderately successful rates of 34 percent, 21 percent and 13 percent respectively.
SMS proving the most successful channel
SMS received the best response rate with 65 percent of messages responded to within 10 minutes. This also reflects response rates reported across other industries, with SMS producing much greater open and response rates than other channels. Used well, SMS can drive open rate of 90 percent opened in 90 seconds, with an overall open rate of 98 percent.
This preference for texting is reflected across the board, with smartphone users sending and receiving five times as many texts compared with the number of phone calls each day. Younger generations in particular have embraced SMS. Research indicates that millennials “hate talking on the phone”, even avoiding calls from friends and family! Millennials are no longer leaving – or even listening to – voicemails, while large companies like Coca-Cola have abandoned voicemail as a communication mode altogether.
It’s these trends that have led some commentators to conclude that phone culture is dead.
When is SMS being used?
Recruiters reported that SMS was particularly useful for urgent messages and timesheet follow-ups, but phone and email were still the preferred channel across most types of communication.
However, this is a missed opportunity for recruiters to use SMS more broadly in the recruitment cycle.
SMS throughout the recruitment journey
SMS can help throughout the whole recruitment process. For example, recruiters can reach out to potential candidates they have not met via SMS, to pique their interest in a position. Use short trackable links within your SMS to provide more information, such as job descriptions and company profiles. Re-establish contact with candidates you haven’t contacted for a while.
Appointment reminders have been shown to significantly minimise no-show rates, increasing your chances that the candidate will arrive on time – or at all. Then keep your candidates updated via SMS of the progress of their application.
Much of the SMS process can be automated and/or integrated into your marketing automation system. Use bulk SMS to distribute new positions to potential candidates with segmentation of your database to target the correct recipients. Web SMS enables you to perform all these functions from your desktop, with all conversations logged to the particular applicant.
SMS as part of your communications strategy
The recruitment industry is missing out on a highly effective communication method by placing greater importance on email and phone calls. Emails are easily ignored and phone usage is decreasing in favour of SMS.
Take advantage of your candidates’ preference for SMS – and its proven success rates – and make it an important part of your recruitment cycle.
* The survey included recruiters across the globe, including those from executive recruitment to contract, permanent and temporary recruitment.