The Ultimate Text Recruiting Guide for Candidate Engagement in 2024

April 09, 2024 10 min read

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Text recruiting has emerged as an innovative solution in the wake of various recruiting challenges. These challenges include rising job vacancies, shrinking recruitment teams, and changes in candidate communication preferences.

Recruiters looking to stay ahead of the curve in the hunt for top talent should strongly consider adopting candidate texting as an integral part of their candidate engagement strategy. Before we dig into all the reasons why, let's explore a deeper understanding of text recruiting and what it entails.

What is Text Recruiting?

Text recruiting, or SMS recruiting, is exactly as it sounds: the act of using text messages for candidate outreach and communication. Typically, text recruiting is done in one of two ways: via random text messages sent directly from the recruiter's personal or company-owned device, or via recruitment software that specializes in or incorporates text messaging capabilities.

This method of engaging with talent is gaining popularity as candidate communication expectations shift due to changing workforce demographics. And we can't ignore the fact that our world is becoming more digital and mobile every day.

Today, 90% of Americans own a smartphone compared to 35% in 2011. Recruiters who aren't texting candidates are missing out on a golden opportunity to effectively engage a larger talent pool in a more accessible and immediate way than traditional outreach methods like email. Not to mention, text recruiting boasts numerous benefits over email for candidate engagement.

Text vs. Email for Candidate Engagement

While email is still the preferred method of communication among talent acquisition teams, companies are increasingly looking to expand their use of text for recruitment purposes. And when you consider the statistics, that comes as no surprise.

Engagement Metrics

Aptitude Research found that companies that incorporate text recruiting over email in their candidate engagement strategy were able to improve key recruitment metrics such as time to fill, quality of hire, candidate experience, and conversion rates.

Companies that increased their use of text engagement also saw positive impacts on candidate engagement metrics like open rate, click through rate, and response rate. Most notably, Aptitude Research found that companies using text message recruiting were four times more likely to see candidates respond within the first two minutes than companies using email, and two times more likely to fill positions within two weeks.


On top of improving these key candidate engagement metrics, text recruiting simplifies time-consuming aspects of the hiring process for recruiters and candidates. For example, screening candidates – a process that can often take several days and multiple steps, including emailing, scheduling, and calling – can be done over text in only about 4.4 minutes. That's partly because of how accessible cell phones and text messaging are today. In fact, the average response time for an SMS message is only 3 minutes compared to 90 minutes for email.

Here are some related stats that might surprise you:

  • The average open rate for an SMS campaign is 98% compared to 20% for email
  • Americans check their phones on average 96 times per day (once every ten minutes)
  • 6.89 billion people have smartphones in 2023, expected to become 7.86 billion by 2028
  • 95% of text messages are read and responded to within 3 minutes of being received

You may also consider the time it takes to draft a text message. Due to the character limits and conciseness required of SMS messages, drafting a text message to a candidate can be done in a few minutes. On the other hand, writing a thorough email to a candidate can potentially take a recruiter an hour or longer when starting from a blank page.


Texting also enables highly-valued two-way communication between candidate and recruiter, whereas email campaigns conducted via an applicant tracking system (ATS) usually only allow one-way communication about opportunities.

Before you get started crafting a text recruiting strategy, it's important to understand what candidates want and expect from prospective employers during the hiring process.

What Do Candidates Want During the Hiring Process?

Text recruiting addresses several growing expectations that candidates have of potential employers. For example, more than 1 in 3 candidates want to know the status of their application instantly via a mobile app or web portal, and 70% want updates weekly or more frequently. Texting candidates about the status of their application may not be instantaneous, but it sure is quicker than sending an email. And it may even feel more personal to the candidate than the typical automated rejection email.

Generation Z, the newest cohort to join the workforce, is especially looking for a sense of urgency in hiring. 17% of them expect an offer less than a week after the first interview. That explains why text messaging is becoming a favorite way to connect with employers among Gen Z job seekers. Reducing time-to-hire and providing frequent updates to these candidates by texting can help you improve your employer brand and attract more qualified candidates.

Tips for Successful Text Recruiting

Now that you’re familiar with the reasons why text recruiting should be an integral part of your candidate engagement strategy, you’re probably wondering how to get started. First, you should consider these guidelines for effective and ethical text recruiting campaigns:

Getting Permission

When it comes to something as personal as receiving a text message, getting permission from the recipient prior to texting them is critical.

There are a few ways to ensure you've gotten permission. The easiest way is when a candidate has already agreed to provide their phone number for text exchanges. This can happen on a career site or in a job application where the option is provided for applicants to receive texts.

The flip side is when you're proactively reaching out to talent. In some cases, candidates may explicitly state their phone number in their online profiles or resumes. In that case, you can send them a text message introducing yourself and asking if they would be okay communicating over text.

If you found their phone number online without it being explicitly provided, refrain from texting them until you've received confirmation through email that they would like to be contacted via text.


In the same way you would avoid sending emails at certain times, like during the weekend or a holiday, you should also consider timing when sending texts to candidates. A good rule of thumb when texting is to keep it during working hours (9 am to 5 pm).

A survey of job seekers found that texting any time between 8 am and 12 pm is ideal. If you know most people take lunch around 12 to 2 pm, you might also try that window since a passive candidate may check their phone during a work break.

It doesn't hurt at all to ask a candidate when they feel comfortable receiving texts. They may let you know that they'd prefer to be texted outside of working hours or on specific days. This way, you show them that their experience during the process is top priority.

Message Content

The information you provide in your text message to a candidate will depend on the circumstances of your engagement.

If they applied directly for a role, you likely won't need to send basic information about your opening since they likely read the job description before applying. Still, you'll want to introduce yourself and get to know them.

On the flip side, if you're reaching out to passive talent that may be unaware about your open position (with permission, of course), you'll want to provide some basic info about the opportunity in your first message to fill them in.

The best way to go about your texts is to plan through each step of the engagement process. Here's a three-step framework called “SMS” that you can use for text recruiting:

  1. Starting Message
  2. More Information
  3. Scheduling Interview

Let's break down each of those steps with examples.

Starting Message

Similar to an introductory email, your starting message is your opportunity to introduce yourself to talent. Long paragraphs of text are usually a major turn-off, so go for something concise and to the point. Let's take a look at some examples.

If you're reaching out for the first time, try something like:

“Hey [Name]! My name is [Name] and I recruit for [Company]. I came across your latest project and thought you'd be a great fit for our open [Open Position] role. Let me know if you'd be interested in more info. If not, no worries at all and I won't reach out again. Thanks!”

If the candidate applied for a job, try something like:

“Hey [Candidate's Name], thanks for applying for the [Open Position] role at [Company]! My name is [Your Name] and I'll be here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have. Are you okay with communicating via text or would you prefer a different way?”

Of course, those are just examples. Given the more personal nature of texting, you shouldn't hesitate to add a few personal touches like you might in a normal text exchange. Not only will it help your message stand out, but it will also let the candidate know that there's a real human they're chatting with as opposed to an automated machine.

Here are some more ideas:


You can recognize the potential awkwardness of the situation by throwing a line like

“I can confirm, I am a real person” or a fun emoji.


If you see yourself as an energetic or motivational person, use that in your messaging by saying

“I'd love to connect you to a career that empowers you to learn and do more!”

More information

If a candidate responds and expresses interest in learning more, be ready to provide them with the information they're looking for.

If they don't ask any specific questions, have a general sense of the basic information you might want to convey about the open position, such as key pointers about the role, the organization, the process, and why you think they fit. Otherwise, let them guide you on the information they want to learn.

Schedule Interview

If they're ready to proceed to the interview process, you can schedule their interview over text. Since you already have their number, setting up a phone screen becomes even easier.

You can even explore using calendar scheduling integrations over text in the same way they're used for emails to give candidates more agency when scheduling their interview.


For each of the three stages above, templates will help you stay organized and efficient with the information you want to convey.

For the starting message, you can have a few templates that:

  • Convey different introductory information
  • Use a different tone or message length

In doing so, you'll have a few options to choose from that can help you test which templates garner the most responses.

For more information messages, you can have a few templates that:

  • Convey different information based on scenarios of what talent is looking for
    • Template based on salary information
    • Template based on work/life balance information
    • Template based on the interview process
  • Use different tone and length

You probably guessed it, but you can also have different templates for scheduling interviews.

Tracking Text Recruiting Performance

Like any form of engagement, it's important to track your performance. Here are three common metrics to consider when sending texts:

  • Delivery Rate:

    The percentage of messages that were successfully delivered
    • This will indicate your data quality. High amounts of undelivered messages may signal that you have a data issue. If this is the case, texting more candidates should be halted until any data issues are resolved.
  • Reply Rate:

    The percentage of candidates who have replied to your texts
    • Comparing your text message reply rate to your email reply rates can help you determine which approach has been more effective
    • Based on the templates or messaging you use, you can also compare and contrast what performs best
  • Opt Out Rate:

    The percentage of recipients who have opted out of receiving future messages
    • You should always give recipients the option to unsubscribe from future text messages
    • A high opt out rate will let you know if the individuals you're reaching out to are the wrong audience, if texting is the right medium to reach them, or if you need to drastically improve the content of your messages

How to Text Recruit with hireEZ

hireEZ's next-gen recruitment CRM has the ability to auto-generate and automate SMS campaigns directly from the platform. In just a few seconds, you can have multiple touchpoints (up to 10 messages per campaign) drafted with the help of generative artificial intelligence (AI). Monitor performance insights for all your campaigns right from the Campaigns dashboard so you can figure out what's working and optimize future campaigns successfully. We've made it easy to reach qualified candidates where they are and meet their communication expectations.

In a recent episode of the speakEZ Podcast, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Dental Care Alliance, Chad Venters said “Texting, in my opinion, is the best way to communicate.” Other podcast guests have expressed similar sentiments, including Senior Recruiter Dana Wilkins who talks about embracing new technology and using it in a way that makes sense for you: “I think you just have to dive in.”

When you consider the benefits we've outlined here, it's impossible not to agree! If you're looking for a solution that will help you build a strong employer brand, reduce time-to-fill, meet prospective candidates where they are, and increase response rates, let's start a conversation.


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