Would you talk to your boss the same way you talk to your best friend? Probably not. However, with so much time spent on texting in general, it’s easy to make a misstep. Using a funny gif or character emoji to explain your feelings on a sporting event with friends is perfectly acceptable whereas a similar expression to a business colleague is not.
A recent Pew research study cited that 97% of Smartphone users text regularly. Such being the case, it is highly likely that the texting habits you develop in your personal life may bleed over into your professional text communications. To prevent that from happening, please consider the following strategies.
BRAND YOUR CONTACTS DIFFERENTLY:
When adding a work contact into your phone, use a company logo for their picture. This will remind you that it is a work acquaintance.
Have different ringtones for different purposes. For example, the default ringtone could be for contacts you are unfamiliar with. “Working 9 to 5” could be a ringtone for people you work with, “We are Family” for relatives and the theme from “Friends” for your friends. Likewise, do the same for the text tones for your various contacts as well.
The hope is that if you get in the habit of receiving visual and audible cues, you would have trained yourself to be in business mode vs personal mode before you begin texting.
WHEN NOT TO TEXT
My iPhone has a “do not disturb” function that automatically activates every night at bedtime and deactivates in the morning. During those hours I receive no calls, texts or notifications with the exception of the contacts I have added to my favorites. In this way, only a select few have access to me at all times.
A variation of this practice could be applied during office hours so that only a select few can interrupt you during the work day. You would still receive texts from all others but the text tone would be silent. You may still have the urge to check for new texts every so often but it would not be due to a distracting notification. You may want to condition yourself to check for texts at specific points in the day; lunchtime or coffee breaks for example. Admittedly, I know it is a difficult habit for most Americans to adopt.
I think this is a good practice if you are easily distracted and prone to do the following:
- Texting while in a business meeting.
- Texting when interacting with a customer in person.
- Texting while offering customer service over the phone.
- Texting during a business meal with clients.
- Texting when engaged in a conference call.
TEXTING IS GOOD FOR SELLING
All that being said, for some workers, texting is a key communication tool between them and their clients. Gabe Larsen, VP of Marketing and Sales Development for InsideSales.com is a strong proponent of using texting in B2B sales. In a recent post on LinkedIn, he said this:
I’ve been calling you out for not texting and finally someone listened. Kudos Kyle Willis and Directive for stepping up. Kyle just texted me out of [the] blue and I’m going to listen to his his pitch
– Yes, he texted me cold
– No, I’m not going to sue him
– Yes, it could have turned out bad
– No, I have no clue how he got my number
– Yes, I’m glad he did it
– No, I’ve not looked at my email inbox today
– Yes, I believe he was probably nervous to do it
EVERYBODY HAS A SMARTPHONE, SO WHY NOT?
I found this encouraging as it puts me in mind of recruiting. If texting can be used successfully for business development, I imagine it would be compelling for recruiting. In a very real way, it only makes sense when you consider data from Pew Research which says 95% of adults own a cell phone and 77% own a smartphone. In the 18-49 age group, 89% own a smartphone. And according to the same research, 1 in 5 adults use a smartphone only and do not have home broadband internet access. About a quarter of US adults say they are “constantly online.”
What is even more encouraging is the penetration of the practice of searching for jobs on mobile phones. According to recent data from Indeed.com:
“While Millennials may be the most active on mobile — 78% used mobile devices to find jobs as of 2016 — Gen Xers aren’t far behind, with around 73% searching for work on mobile devices. In recent years, Baby Boomers have seen the highest increase in mobile job search among the three generations, with around 57.2% of Boomers active in 2016, up from just 51.2% in 2014.”
BUT, DO JOB SEEKERS APPROVE? SOME DO, SOME DON’T. SOME DON’T CARE
If candidates are searching for jobs on mobile phones and are psychologically tethered to their mobile phones, it is a reasonable assumption that they may wish to connect with potential employers via text as well. An educated guess is at best, still a guess and I wanted some data to validate my suspicions. After some time online, I found some interesting research from Software Advice. They surveyed jobseekers and detail their findings in the blog post – How Do Job Seekers Feel About Recruiting Via Text? [Survey] and this was a key finding:.
‘According to job seekers, inappropriate texting scenarios with recruiters include texting during non-business hours (14 percent), texts unrelated to job hunting (12 percent) and texting the results of an interview (10 percent).”
By the way, I spoke with Emissary.ai concerning this stat and they corroborated it having seen similar findings with their product.
In light of these survey findings, I have more best practices to suggest when texting candidates.
- Get permission to text someone before engaging them. Not everyone has unlimited data for texting and unless they are notified beforehand, they might regard your outreach as spam. Towards that aim, give them an option to receive text messages when applying online for a job. Moreover, use email and/or phone calls for initial contact and mention that you are available for text follow-up.
- Once you have obtained permission from candidates, be sure to limit texts to traditional business hours and those to be restricted to the candidate’s job hunting progress.
- I would also stress that information related to interview results should be over the phone and/or in-person and not via text as that is regarded as too impersonal.
“SPEXT” AND A FEW MORE CONSIDERATIONS
- Do not send a mass unsolicited text to multiple candidates as it would likely be considered “spext” (spam + text = spext). As I said previously, send texts to those candidates who have opted in to receive your messaging.
- When a candidate reaches out to you, respond in a prompt fashion. If you are unable to, make an effort to reply as quickly as possible as a delay might be interpreted as a lack of caring.
- Re-read your texts before sending in order to double check for spelling errors, proper grammar and to insure that you are addressing the intended party.
- Be brief. Text messaging should be for short, informative messages. If you need to go into detail or offer an extensive explanation, pick up the phone instead or meet in person.
- Make it easy for candidates to unsubscribe from future messages.
I think texting is an efficient and perfectly acceptable way to engage candidates, once permission is acquired. I also think that texting in general is so widely accepted that it is foolish to not employ it in your recruitment process to one degree or another. Like every other successful enterprise, the advantage of texting candidates will go to the early adopters not afraid to experiment, fail quickly and adapt to what works. On behalf of the HR departments daring to be innovative, please competitors continue what you are doing. We appreciate the advantage.