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From candidate engagement to contractor care, from SaaS and onboarding best practices, from burrata to Galbi... here's what's cooking at Sense.

Texting and Recruiting: An Ultimate Guide

Posted by Alexandra Kane on Sep 3, 2019 8:00:00 AM
Alexandra Kane

I. Introduction 

Busy is the new normal. We’re constantly checking emails, returning calls and scheduling meetings. The “working vacation” is how people “relax” and still get things done. With so much competing for our attention, reaching candidates, clients, prospects and contractors simply isn’t as simple as it was in the past. 

And it’s affecting the staffing industry tremendously. In fact, our industry is facing a full-blown candidate engagement crisis. Your staffing firm is spending thousands every month to source and place candidates. But in today’s marketplace, it’s a struggle to even find new candidates. Or you find them, then lose them somewhere in the hiring process. Or maybe they go on one placement, but you never hear from them again.

Yes, it’s a crisis for sure. 

Business is booming, but talent is oftentimes scarce. Committing to candidate engagement and contractor care requires scalable solutions for recruiters to communicate with candidates and contractors. And for salespeople to communicate with prospects or clients.  Today’s workforce wants you to communicate with them on a personal level. It’s up to you to deliver (of course, with a little help from technology).

This is, after all, the “people” business.

As technology increasingly has the potential to push us further apart from human connection, it also has the potential to draw us much closer, to build and nurture relationships. For candidates, whose ability to find a good job impacts every area of their lives, the ability for your firm to make human connections and demonstrate your commitment is critical. 

Boring, corporate speak-type communications will no longer cut it with today’s talent. They want to feel a connection to your recruiter and your brand. They want YOU to build and nurture that connection. Your ability to deliver on that need requires a mobile-first, omni channel approach. 

What’s an omni channel approach? Specifically, it’s an approach to candidate engagement that creates a seamless experience for candidates using multiple channels, working together. Everything is integrated, so that your candidates (and clients) have a unified experience, regardless of who they are, how they found your firm, or where they are in the hiring or sales process.

Who’s texting? 

No surprise here, but everyone is texting! Whether it’s first-time candidates or legacy clients, and everyone in between, each person in your network is using text messaging to communicate.  

Now, we’ve mentioned candidate engagement quite a bit already, but texting can have a major impact on your staffing firm beyond candidate engagement. Here’s how a comprehensive text messaging strategy can impact every corner of your staffing firm:  

  • Candidate Engagement

As mentioned above, texting allows you to engage talent from the moment they first engage with your staffing firm and throughout the application and hiring process. With texting (and a strong messaging and candidate engagement platform), your recruiters will be empowered to make better, faster placements. 

  • Contractor Care

Our research has found that retention and redeployment rates are drastically low for a majority of staffing firms. Even a small uptick in redeployment can make a massive impact on your revenue. The key? Building loyalty. Nurturing relationships. Establishing real connections with your contractors, so they view you as a partner in their career instead of a means to an end, or a commodity. With Sense Messaging, your recruiters can schedule personalized, automated check-ins before, during and after an assignment to keep in touch and provide needed support to your contractors. 

  • Prospect Nurturing

Approachable, scalable communication tools can give your sales team a powerful leg up on the competition. Your sales reps can schedule follow-ups, sync chat history and manage their contact lists from a single, simple dashboard. What better time to demonstrate your technical prowess and ability to build strong relationships than during the sales process? This is a prime chance to show off what you can do, and what you’ll be leveraging to land your clients top talent.

  • Client Care

You’re busy; your clients are busy. With overflowing inboxes, it can be difficult for clients to stay on top of them. But, your ability to communicate effectively can make a huge impact on client satisfaction. Texting cuts through the clutter to help you stay on top of mind. Share recruiting updates and data, and build stronger relationships with clients. All while saving time and resources.

Why texting? 

At its most simple, texting is powering the workforce right now. It’s already happening. Not in the future, but today. Without a sound text messaging strategy, you’re already behind, and falling deeper every day. There is not a more powerful platform to help you build real connections and scale your sales and recruiting functions, all while increasing your human touch.

But while we’re talking quite a bit about human connections in a sea of screens, there is also a tangible benefit. Personalized texting and communication leads to better business results -- and ultimately, higher ROI. Our research found that texting boasts a response rate of 51%, which is significantly higher than either phone or email communications. 

Plus, candidates today are simply fried. 

In such a tight labor market, recruiters are pulling all their punches to try and reach top candidates. And candidates are pretty tired of it. The deluge of messages on platforms they now avoid, unsolicited calls and voicemails is simply taking its toll. Candidates today don’t want phone calls or even emails. They’re on the move, not sitting around waiting to hear from a recruiter. 

If you want to reach talent today, you’ll need to do it on mobile. 95% of Americans own a mobile device, and while this is unofficial data, we’re confident that 100% of those people are probably addicted to their phones!

90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes. 

While you may hold off on that meme from your old friend from high school, data shows that most of us read texts quickly -- within 3 minutes!

86% of millennials prefer texts during recruitment. 

Trying to reach talent in their 20s and 30s? Well, not only do they live on their phones, they actually prefer you reach them via text during recruitment. Pretty compelling, right? 

Don’t forget clients.

Pew Research found that 95% of adults own a cell phone and 77% own a smartphone. In the 18-49 age group, 89% own a smartphone. That means it’s not just candidates you should be texting -- your clients can be engaged and nurtured using text messaging as well. 

That same research from Pew found that 1 in 5 adults use a smartphone only and do not even have home broadband internet access (!). Long messages meant for computers and traditional email aren’t going to cut it on a mobile device. 

About a quarter of US adults say they are “constantly online.” And if you’re like us, you’re probably addicted to your phone too. Data shows we’re looking at our phones 80 times a day, in fact, and half of us don’t even believe phones are primarily used to make phone calls anymore. Times, they are a changin’!

Oh, and sales prospects who are sent text messages convert 40% more often. 

The elephant in the room.

There is one glaring piece of information that is important for staffing firms to consider when it comes to texting. Although it may not be integrated into your business strategy…

Your recruiters are probably already texting candidates anyway!

Many recruiters caught on quickly once they started getting ghosted and burned on their traditional communications. So they’re using their cell phones to keep in touch with candidates. 

This unofficial texting is not measurable and has no oversight. In other words, it can’t directly be tied to results, and you have no idea what your recruiters are sending. 

While the thought of integrating new technology can be overwhelming, it’s probably not nearly as complicated as you might think. It really comes down to finding the right text messaging technology to work seamlessly with your additional staffing tech. At Sense, we built our platform specifically for staffing firms. It was designed and built specifically to work with your ATS so that you can start putting Sense to work more quickly and with less hassle. 

II. How is texting impacting recruiting?

While we’ve touched upon how important and ubiquitous texting has become for everyone, and have dug into who you should be communicating with via text, let’s look more closely at how texting is impacting recruiting. 

Candidates today expect you to contact them on their phones. 

The days of sitting in front of a computer for eight hours every day, scouring the web and submitting resumes, is over. Instead, talent sees and applies to jobs using saved resumes or their LinkedIn profiles. And they’re doing it on their mobile devices. 

For a long time, mobile job search (and especially applications) was a novelty among staffing firms and candidates. But today, the application process is often as simple as paying with Venmo or sharing a photo with AirDrop. 

We run our lives on our phones. Scheduling appointments, asking questions, taking and editing photos and of course communicating with friends, family and professional contacts. And now, they are our career headquarters. 

The data backs it up --  77% of Millennials, 73% of GenXers and even 57% of Baby Boomers use their mobile devices to search for jobs. 

Your candidates understand mobile technology and communication intimately. And they also have more knowledge than ever about the hiring process. Forums, social media and other online resources have “exposed” how hiring works. Which means that talent has different expectations than they have in the past. They know when you’re interested, and they expect certain levels of service and communication from recruiters in order to “earn” their business. 

At the same time, they don’t want to be bombarded or bothered. They know that AI and automation have empowered recruiters to send relevant, personalized and timely messages. So they expect you to use them. Yes, candidate expect you to text them! 

Many workers just aren’t sitting at desks anymore.

We’ve hit upon the behavioral habits and expectations talent have when it comes to communication and technology. But another argument in favor of texting pertains to the work habits of many professionals today. Put simply, many people just aren’t sitting at a desk anymore. They’re not constantly checking emails or voicemails. They’re out in the field, waiting to hear from you on their smartphones. 

More recruiters are catching on, and are texting with increasing regularity. So, if you’re not texting them short, personal and meaningful messages about their next jobs, chances are that your competition is absolutely taking advantage. 

Plus, as we’ve mentioned, improving contractor care can make a major impact on your redeployment rates, and ultimately, your income. 

Type of Texts You Should Be Sending

By now, you are hopefully chomping at the bit to get started building and executing a messaging strategy with texting at the forefront. But before you dig in, it’s prudent to consider the types of texts you will be sending. 

Candidates/Contractors

1. Paperwork

The excitement of a new job or gig can wear off quickly once contractors receive a pile of paperwork to complete. And few recruiters enjoy sorting through and filing paperwork, we’re sure. 

Thankfully, technology has evolved to the point where a lot of paperwork can be done online. That includes onboarding paperwork, time cards and other forms that may arise from time to time. From editable PDFs to online forms (Google Forms are free and super easy to set up), candidates should be able to easily submit their necessary information online. 

What’s the best way to send that paperwork, plus increase the odds it’s completed (and decrease the odds you’ll need to send a ton of follow ups)? Text them a link! 

Less papers to print out (a lot of people don't even have printers at home anymore!) for candidates and less papers to track for your recruiters = a lot of happy people. 

Just be sure to keep your forms simple and easy to complete, or you may end up with more questions and back-and-forth than you hoped.

2. Important interview communications 

If you’re worried about candidate ghosting or just want to be a helpful resource for your candidates, sending a quick text the afternoon before or morning of an interview with a link to directions (especially if it opens in Apple Maps or Google Maps) can be super helpful. Searching for directions adds just one more thing to the list of interview prep for candidates, so helping them here can get you some major bonus points (and help ensure your candidates actually show up for their interviews!).

After the interview, waiting to hear back from client can be frustrating for recruiters and candidates alike. While you may be more relaxed knowing what your clients have on their plates and what may be causing delays, your candidates may be stressing out. Or worse, they may be looking for other jobs or staffing firms. 

Send out quick update texts to your candidates throughout the interview process can help put your mind at ease and build stronger relationships with your talent. Plus, it’ll really make you stand out to talent. Imagine recruiters going so far above and beyond to create a good experience for candidates. Your recruiters will be seen as superheroes! 

3. Assignment check-ins

Ghosting doesn’t just affect the interview process, it can happen between accepting jobs and starting on the first day. Plus, talent can get nervous before starting a new job -- it’s common for many of us! A quick text wishing candidates luck, reiterating instructions, time to appear, and/or the name of the manager or HR person to meet can all help put your talent’s minds at ease. 

Once candidates have been on the job for a bit, they may forget about their recruiters because they’re so focused on their new gigs. But, communication here is super important, since this is also when many candidates have questions, feedback about a client or assignment, and other needs that should be addressed.

Texting talent while they’re still on placements can also significantly impact retention and redeployment rates, increase contractor happiness and can even lead to more referrals.

4. Feedback

It’s understandable that your recruiters might quickly move on from one placement to the next once candidates have started their positions. But, short, personalized communications via text can help demonstrate that your recruiters are here to help and are invested in the success of your contractors. 

A quick, text after each assignment can be a nice way to improve contractor happiness, and as mentioned above, can dramatically impact the likelihood of retention and redeployment and can dramatically impact your number of referrals.

Plus, texting can help boost your NPS score. NPS is your public report card, in a way. Earning a high NPS from Inavero (now ClearlyRated) means that your clients and/or candidates love you and you’re doing a great job. 

But actually getting talent to answer those NPS surveys can be tough. As we’ve mentioned, no one is sitting around their computers waiting for emails. We’re busy! Even when we want to help out people or companies we like, it’s easy to forget about a survey email. Especially when our inboxes are already so cluttered.

But when you send surveys through text -- don’t forget to ensure they're optimized for mobile -- you increase the likelihood of response. And since your candidates are thrilled with you because of your amazing messaging strategy, your scores could go through the roof. 

5. Fun stuff

Think about how many dormant candidates are in your database. There are potentially thousands of contractors who haven’t received a communication from you in ages. It’s just impossible to do one-on-one outreach to everyone in your database.

A quick birthday text could be a great way to reopen communication and hopefully lead to redeployment. Plus, they’re just a nice thing to do. Everyone likes getting a Happy Birthday text.

Along the same line of thought, Happy Anniversary texts can help you stay top of mind and reopen the line of communication. Depending on the information you have on your candidates, this could mean wedding anniversary, or other important dates. For active contractors, it could mean recognizing their anniversary with your firm. This is a nice way to recognize your talent and make them feel like a valuable part of your team.  

6. Jobs(!) 

Jobs are always welcome. For those who are in the middle of a placement and wondering what’s coming up next, someone who has been stuck in a job for a long time and hasn’t heard from you, or a recent candidate who wasn’t a fit the first time around, texts with links to relevant jobs are almost always appreciated.

Timely outreach with relevant jobs is what’s essential here. Simply blasting your candidates with every link or general “hot jobs” isn’t going to net the response you’re hoping to receive. Also, be sure your ATS makes it super simple to apply using a mobile device. Whether it’s allowing saved resumes or applying via LinkedIn, don’t overcomplicate the process or that text message could backfire.

Clients

1. Recruiting Updates

Depending on the client and role being filled, there can be some pretty lengthy periods of “radio silence” between staffing firms and their clients. Playing phone tag is an annoyance, and emails get deleted or filed “for later,” never to be seen again. 

Stay top of mind with your clients and let them know you’re working hard for them by sending out short texts with updates on your recruiting efforts. You’ll definitely be putting your best foot forward.

2. Meeting Reminders/Updates

Have you ever sat on a conference call waiting for the other party (or parties) to join in? Sometimes tasks or days get away from us, blowing right through meetings on our calendars. 

Couple that with how difficult it can be to get something with clients on the calendar in the first place, and missing that call can turn into a major hassle for everyone. Sending a quick text in advance of important meetings (maybe an hour or two, or even that morning if it’s in the afternoon) can often serve as the break or interruption we need to keep that meeting top of mind. 

3. Contractor check-Ins

Just as with candidates, checking in with clients can be very helpful during assignments. Clients have questions or sometimes little details or issues come up. Clients may not call you right away, but may be annoyed or put out nonetheless. Proactively reaching out to them can give you an opportunity to smooth over challenges or provide necessary information before things become real issues for your clients (issues that can sometimes compromise client relationships). 

It’s a good thing when clients and candidates get into a nice rhythm, providing value for both. You’re less likely to hear from them during this time, but a quick text will let them know you’re still here if they need you, and may even open up communication about additional placements. 

Since you’ll be sending mid-placement check in texts to your contractors anyway, you might as well check in and be sure all is well with your clients too!

4. Feedback

Quick texts asking questions after placements have ended can help you ensure client happiness and open the door to more placements. Plus, it’s just a nice way to build stronger relationships with your clients.  A full post mortem may not be necessary, but a quick text to see how things went can go a long way. 

Back to NPS -- don’t forget your clients too. NPS is a critical metric for staffing firms, and your ability to spread the word about your thrilled clients is helpful. 

Sending emails and crossing your fingers probably isn’t a good strategy to ensure your clients fill out their surveys. Just as with your candidates and contractors, consider sending NPS survey links via text instead. Your completion rate -- and likely your NPS -- could soar as a result. 

5. Fun stuff

Everyone likes to feel special. Making your clients feel special is almost always good for business. Client anniversaries, birthdays, client company headlines and other important days merit a quick text of acknowledgement. They make your clients feel good, and add a nice, personal touch to your relationship. 

These texts can be especially effective with dormant clients who haven’t reached out in awhile. A well-intentioned text on an important day could lead directly to conversations, catching up and ultimately, new reqs. 

6. Top Candidates

Dormant or active clients alike will appreciate quick texts with details about candidates who fit their profile. Keep any message short and sweet, and you could end up making a match. At a minimum, it’s yet another step toward demonstrating to your clients how much you value their relationship. 

7. Event details

Are you at a conference where your clients will be in attendance? Maybe you’re hosting an event, or are sponsoring or have a table at an event? Shoot your client a quick text asking for a meetup. Grabbing coffee or drinks while in town together can strengthen your relationships and add real value. 

Best Practices for Texting Clients, Candidates and Contractors

Now that you know what to send, it’s time to dig into how you should send these text messages. Treading carefully and respecting the recipients is critical to increase engagement and use texting to strengthen, not hurt, your relationships.

1. Get permission. 

While we’re all on our cell phones and are using text every day, your clients and candidates may not want to hear from you. Unsolicited messages don’t often get a very warm welcome. Whenever possible, try to get verbal agreement that your clients, candidates and contractors would like to receive text messages. You can add a note in your ATS when candidates apply, add language to your website, and build in other communications to seek permission and ensure that individuals know that you will be communicating with them via text. This can help you avoid any surprises. 

2. Set expectations.

Be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s here. Once you get permission, let your clients, candidates and contractors know where you’ll be texting them from. This can prevent your text from being deleted, or added to spam.

Also let your contacts know how and when you might be contacting them. You never know what someone may expect, so by clearly setting expectations up front, you can ensure everyone is happy with your communications. 

3. Keep them short.

No one wants to read long messages on their phones. Keep texts to a maximum of 2 to 3 sentences. Any longer, and it’s better to send an email or pick up the phone. 

4. Don’t be stuffy. 

Texting is a highly personal form of communication. Respect that, and avoid stuffy corporate-speak, while simultaneously keeping all communications professional. Avoid too many abbreviations or acronyms, and use emojis, but sparingly. 

5. Don’t dropoff.

Once you’ve established a relationship with text, don’t let communications drop off after a placement. With Sense, you can create custom workflows and personalized messages that will automatically be sent to talent at various points. Falling off the face of the Earth means your contacts could forget about you entirely -- don’t lose all the goodwill you’ve earned. 

6. Don’t be redundant.

It can be tempting to send a text message, then follow up with an email or call “just to be sure.” If something has been addressed via text, consider it addressed. Sending multiple communications on the same issue can eliminate the benefit of texting in the first place! Remember what we said earlier about an omni channel approach -- whether it’s text, email, phone calls, Facebook, or anywhere else, the experience for candidates and contractors should be seamless. 

Sense makes it easy for recruiters to avoid redundancy. Your talent and client communications will work together to create that seamless experience we just described. You’ll be able to quickly review any past communications and responses to streamline your efforts and maximize efficiency, keeping everyone happy and informed.

III. Sense: Messaging

By now, you’ve probably figured out we live and breathe the staffing industry. Our platform, Sense, is a powerful contractor engagement platform that enables staffing agencies and recruiters to personalize their interactions with contractors at every stage of the employment cycle. 

We were founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneurs with deep roots and expertise in both staffing and software. Our deep knowledge and passion for the staffing industry shows in our product. Sense is an enterprise-ready solution that provides a system of engagement for staffing agencies working with the rapidly-growing contingent workforce. 

Besides building a product from the ground up specifically for staffing firms, our deep expertise is imbued throughout our organization. Take our Customer Success Managers (CSMs), for instance. When you invest in the Sense platform, you are partnered with one of our Customer Success Managers for the lifetime of our partnership. 

This partnership goes vastly beyond what you would expect in a traditional “customer service rep” from another software vendor. Rather, our CSMs are strategic partners, helping you integrate Sense into your internal processes and workflows, and more strategically use our engagement platform to grow your business. 

We work with over 200 clients, we integrate with 15 leading ATS platforms, and we are currently working with six of the top staffing agencies in the U.S., including Adecco and Apex Systems. We are proudly based in San Francisco. 

Our candidate engagement platform, Sense Engage, is the backbone of our business. Messaging is our texting product, which allows you to maximize Engage like never before. Let’s look more closely at both Engage and Messaging to demonstrate how technology can help you implement a powerful messaging strategy within your staffing firm. 

Sense Engage

Sense Engage is our consolidated communication and analytics platform. It streamlines your recruiting operations, offering more personalized, effective communications while simultaneously freeing your staff to focus on tasks that require one-on-one interaction. 

Our platform not only empowers you to build stronger relationships with candidates and contractors, it gives your staffing firm clearer insight into your performance, as well as the quality of your placements, referrals, and repeat interactions at scale. 

Sense Messaging

Sense Messaging is our texting and messaging product that allows your recruiters to seamlessly and personally communicate with candidates by SMS and WhatsApp while accessing contextual information from Sense Engage and your ATS. 

Sense Messaging delivers higher engagement between recruiters and candidates, and increases the efficiency of staffing teams by streamlining candidate communications through a single system rather than piecemeal SaaS products (keep reading for more on staffing technology). The proof, as they say,  is in the pudding. Our clients have found that Sense Messaging increases redeployment rates by up to 20 percent.

IV. Texting and Staffing Technology

Today’s top staffing firms are winning in part because they are committed to creating an impressive candidate experience and engaging talent at every stage of the funnel. They nurture strong client relationships, and are increasing contractor retention and redeployment. 

Texting is a large component of this growth, not only because it works as a standalone, but because it integrates seamlessly with your other staffing technology to create a simple and easy candidate user experience. That means it’s just easier and more pleasant to work with you. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Removing the barriers to working with you can open the floodgates for your staffing firm. Implementing a messaging strategy is a powerful way to remove those barriers. 

Consolidating Point Solutions in Staffing

Now that you understand how texting can transform your staffing firm, you might be clamoring for an opportunity to add to your tech stack. You’re probably balancing a range of vendors for all your staffing technology, so adding another one for texting only makes sense, right? 

Hold on one second. While implementing a texting and messaging strategy is a must for your staffing firm, jumping at the latest solutions, and trying to balance multiple platforms and vendors can hurt rather than help your business. 

Instead of adding yet another vendor to the list, it makes much more sense to consolidate your point solutions, because:

Most staffing technologies don’t play nicely together. 

You would think that technologies designed for the staffing industry would automatically work with one another to make your life easier. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In most instances, your individual platforms and solutions are in fact, individual. They are built with different backend technology to perform a super-specific task or function.

Most staffing firms have a litany of technologies designed this way -- all performing a single function. In some instances, integrations are promised and/or expected, so that your technologies will work together. Unfortunately, because these technologies were not designed to work together, any “integrations” are clunky, to say the least. Integration is in many ways an incorrect word to use. That’s because nothing really seems to work together: Data sync doesn’t happen seamlessly, resulting in you or a member of your team sitting on hold with a customer service rep (remember those “standard” reps we talked about earlier).  It is frustrating at best, and crippling to your staffing firm at worst. 

We know the frustrations facing staffing firms, since our origins are rooted in the staffing and recruiting industry.  That’s why the Sense platform was built from the ground up to work seamlessly with top ATS partners. The result is a simple, positive user experience, plus highly optimized interactions for our customers.  And ultimately (and most importantly for you), incredible results for our customers. This platform is built for you, and it shows. 

You end up spending more money.

Multiple subscriptions to multiple technologies and vendors can add up quickly. Choosing a robust, single platform like Sense often means a significantly reduced monthly bill. That, plus all the time and productivity increases we just mentioned!

Oh, and when you think about how many technologies Sense can replace, consider that our platform can perform the tasks of eight other platforms combined. Choosing Sense could quite literally save you tens of thousands of dollars per year (not to mention the potential increase in your revenue by using our platform to implement your candidate engagement and messaging strategies).

You’ll also miss out on all the “fun” of scheduling demos, testing and vetting potential new technology vendors. It’s a drag on productivity all around, and it can be avoided. Sense gives you the benefit of economies of scale (with data, storage, etcetera all shared among its capabilities), adding a lot more change to your pocketbook.  

Conclusion

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! If you’ve made it this far, you have got to be extremely eager to get started. You’ve seen how texting can impact your staffing firm, and you understand why a messaging strategy is critical before jumping in and getting started. 

Most importantly, you understand how important it is to choose the right partner to help you integrate this powerful technology into your operations, and implement a messaging strategy to dramatically impact your revenue. At Sense, we are proud to partner with over 200 staffing firms to help them reach their goals. From our founders to our Customer Success Managers to everyone in between, we are all passionate about helping you grow your firm. 

We’ll help you see how Sense fits into your staffing operations. Schedule a one-on-one demo with a member of our team and bring any lingering questions you might have about texting, candidate engagement and Sense Engage or Messaging. We are here to help! 

Topics: text messaging, texting, staffing technology, digital transformation

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