Text to Apply: Everything You Need to Know to Fill High-Volume Roles Fast

Devin Foster

This recap covers our July 22 episode of Talent Experience Live — which covered how recruiters can use text-to-apply campaigns to break through the noise and capture candidates’ attention in today’s tight labor market. Learn best practices and success stories from Phenoms Andrew O’Brien, Lead Product Manager, and Michele Oliveri, Customer Success Manager. 


There's no question that SMS messaging is an effective way to reach people. Of the global consumers in a Nielsen study, 47 percent said they'd rather receive a text message than a phone call. Plus, data shows that while emails can go unread for days, 98 percent of texts are read in an average response time of 90 seconds.  
 

Enterprises can use this leading form of communication to strengthen their talent acquisition efforts, especially during today's tight labor market. For recruiters tasked with filling high-volume roles, text-to-apply campaigns are proving to be ideal for meeting talent demands —  so long as they’re using the right strategies and following the best practices.
 

Besides, candidates might have email inboxes of thousands of unread notes, meaning recruiters have to do more to stand out and get noticed. Sending texts gives them a higher chance of connecting with candidates — and therefore — engaging with and converting job seekers. 
 

Particularly in the retail and food industries, companies are relying on text-to-apply to meet hiring demands. They're putting up signs with instructions for job seekers to quickly and easily connect with recruiters. 
 

Watch the full episode below to learn everything you need to know about text-to-apply campaigns, or read on for highlights!  
 


Why is text-to-apply suddenly at the forefront of recruiting?


Text to apply typically involves some form of physical advertising — a flyer or billboard, for example — with a keyword that job seekers can text to a short number to initiate interaction with the company’s recruitment team.  
 

As a result, recruiters can use texting to meet candidates where they are — which is wherever it's convenient for them: walking to the store, taking the train, etc. 
 

As O'Brien explained, text-to-apply is super convenient for candidates, recruiters, and companies that are trying to hire. There’s a lot of urgency in today’s market on the part of both candidates and hiring teams, and text messaging represents the fastest, highest-response communication channel.
 

“It’s about combining the convenience of messaging, of SMS, with the functionality of your career site. It’s about easily reaching candidates wherever they are," he said. "It's about helping them find the right jobs, and then creating leads and applicants for your recruiting team to follow up with as well." 
 

Candidates are often busy working, or on-the-go, running errands to grocery stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, and more — which is why recruiters have to make contact with them during those daily tasks. Candidates aren't sitting at computer desks all day, and they likely aren't sifting through email messages to find your company's message about open jobs. 
 

To take it a step further and make recruiting more effective, companies that sync text-to-apply campaigns with their CRM to fill talent pipelines and collect relevant data, like demographics and professional interests. Those extra layers of information help recruiters execute targeted campaigns that can be used to engage, nurture, and convert job seekers.
 

“[Text-to-apply is] a new application of a lot of existing technology,” O’Brien noted. “It’s companies adapting, it's recruiting teams adapting to the preferred methods of communication that candidates have.” 
 

"You're about five times more likely to get a message read and responded to if the candidate is reading it in SMS or other messaging services versus email." 
 


Conversational AI in SMS boosts engagement and conversion


SMS campaigns supported with conversational AI is another way organizations are innovating on text-to-apply. This helps recruiters lock in the type of ongoing engagement that’s critical to nurturing leads and building relationships. 
 

Instead of texting back a career site link and hoping the recipient will take the time to visit and apply, conversational AI keeps the candidate engaged right on that SMS channel. "You're avoiding that potential for the candidate to just drop off," O'Brien said. 
 

With text-to-apply that supports conversational AI, you can reach a plethora of candidates and maintain a personal connection with each one — making both essential for sourcing talent to fill high-volume roles. 
 

“Conversational AI allows you to capture their attention in the moment. It allows you to collect all the same information that you would collect on your career site,” O’Brien said. “So you could just point them to that landing page on your career site. Or you could use conversational AI to greet the candidate, engage with them, collect the information that you need, and give the candidate something worthwhile out of it too.” 
 


Using personalization to drive relevance for candidates and recruiters


Text-to-apply campaigns can be customized to ensure recruiters gather the most relevant information, like candidates' location or skills, allowing for personalized, meaningful outreach — beyond just building rapport. According to O'Brien, personalization allows candidates to find jobs that interest them, and helps recruiters evaluate whether job seekers are ideal fits for the role, company, and culture. 
 

If your company has its own, on-brand lingo, (Phenom Phamily, for example), you might want to consider parameters around your conversational AI so that autocorrect doesn't "fix" the language. 
 

"One of the big pieces of text-to-apply is not just following a rigid pattern, but being able to customize — not just the messaging you're presenting at the beginning of the conversation — you want it to be engaging. You want them [candidates] to continue the conversation," O'Brien said. 
 

"It's around asking things like screening questions to see if a candidate actually is qualified for a given position."
 


What are the benefits of using SMS through an all-in-one platform?


Synching SMS capabilities with an all-in-one talent experience platform allows recruiters to stay in one system to manage data and interactions. And that translates to higher user adoption, more advanced personalization, and faster response to candidates.
 

“When you're first starting out, the implementation of the services — if they're all connected — makes it that much easier," O'Brien said. "You don't have to worry about connecting a texting product to your applicant tracking system or your CRM." He also added that personalization features become easier to use. 
 

When recruiters and TA teams use as few systems as possible throughout the day, it makes their work more efficient. For instance, if there's a place where you manage your conversations with candidates — and all the other dozens of recruiting tasks — you can avoid jumping from platform to platform, or app to app. 
 

"It gets frustrating after a while — you're trying to remember where you're doing everything — so having that platform allows you to make so much more use of the different features that are part of that platform," O'Brien said. 
 


How text messages can build trust between candidates and recruiters


Phenom’s Michele Oliveri, Customer Success Manager, jumped into the conversation to share her experience in helping clients make the most of text-to-apply — whether they're messaging one-on-one or to a large group of recipients. 
 

One of the unique benefits she sees with texting is the level of personalized attention recruiters are able to provide. “When you think about the different modes of communication you typically see from recruiters, texting is not something you see all the time, and not a lot of companies do it,” she said. 
 

Plus, recruiters build trust when their messages meet candidates where they are, and the recipient knows there's a human on the other end of the text, Oliveri added. And then there’s the added bonus of trimming the time it takes for candidates to respond. 
 

Oliveri started working for Phenom about six months ago, and communicated with the HR team via text during the interview process. "I felt like it was a much more personalized conversation than answering an email, which was fantastic," she said. 
 


The right time to send a text

Chances are, you notice and read text messages in just a few minutes. 
 

But for recruiting, the strategy behind timing is everything — you have to get a sense of work schedules, positions that urgently need to be filled, and geographic locations to capture candidates' attention via text ... and get a fast response. 
 

"It depends on the urgency that you set for the candidate and also timing," Oliveri said. 
 

Avoid a compliance snag

Recruiters may be tempted to quickly text a candidate using a personal device, but Oliveri cautions against it. Not only could this lead to texting misfires (we’ve all had the awkward experience of messaging the wrong recipient!), but it could spell trouble for the organization regarding compliance laws and regulations related to texting candidates.
 

But when recruiting text interactions are all logged through the CRM, the organization can demonstrate compliance easily if the need arises, she pointed out.
 

Use cases of text-to-apply campaigns 


SMS messaging stands out as a particularly effective strategy in a couple of key recruitment activities, according to Oliveri. 
 

Hiring events

"When you're thinking of a hiring event, you're thinking of a lot of people coming up to you, wanting to talk to you," she said. "If you're hiring a large number of people at one time you might want them to fill out an application right then and there — so being able to use text-to-apply is super easy. 
 

"It's a quick flow to gather somebody's information and then take them right over to the career site to have them fill out the application — and they can do it all within a couple of minutes."
 

Let's say the hiring event is winding down and you want a way for your recruiters to simply and easily reach out to every candidate who stopped by your company's booth that day. Text-to-apply campaigns allow you to send a mass note to those people, instantly letting them know your booth has no wait, and inviting them to chat with recruiters and team members in the moment. 
 


Targeted SMS campaigns

What about other specific SMS campaigns that organizations hiring for high-volume roles can use to send mass messages to candidates, based on a certain industry? 
 

According to Oliveri, healthcare, retail and manufacturing are seeing great success from SMS, especially when sending mass campaigns. If a recruiter is communicating with a candidate via email, and maybe there was a phone screen, and even if it's for a hard-to-fill role, but this candidate seems particularly suited for the job, text is strongly recommended. 
 

"You don't really want to reach out to them via email," she said. "They're not going to answer their email. They're not checking their email all the time."
 

"Even if somebody does go through the text-to-apply flow through their phone, and they don't click on the application at that time, you're still gathering a ton of information on the candidate that you can use again to reach out to them." 
 


Learn how your organization can connect with candidates faster — 
Request a demo to see Phenom SMS in action!

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