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Recruiting tech turns to text messaging, resumeless apps

The younger generation likes text messaging and may not be big fans of the resume. Recruiting tech vendors are trying to make their platforms more appealing to these age groups.

The use of text messaging as the initial way to contact a prospect may be on the rise. Instead of an unsolicited cold call or email, recruiters may try to first reach you with a text message. Recruiting tech is enabling this capability, and the vendors say texting is a preferred means of communication for younger workers.

This approach may be part of a broader trend. Recruiting tech vendors see a need to make it easier for applicants to engage with recruiters. This desire includes dispensing with the need for a resume to apply for some types of jobs.

One recruiting tech vendor, Jobvite, just added a text capability, Jobvite Text, to its recruiting, marketing and applicant tracking system. It also added chatbot capability to its text messaging. This takes text messaging from an ad hoc process -- or something done by recruiters on their own phones -- to an integrated recruiting platform, where text messages are archived and tracked the same way emails are.

Another approach to reaching the candidate market is being taken by Capango, a recruiting tech vendor that focuses on the retail market. It has built an app that doesn't ask for a resume. Instead, it walks a prospect through a series of questions about their powers -- which might include education -- and passions, or their interests and likes. From those answers, it can score the applicant against a job. Candidates are also invited to submit a short video.

The capability to build a resume "has nothing to do with the success of that employee," said Stefan Midford, CEO and president of Capango. "Resumes were an old-fashioned way of understanding a candidate," he said.

The younger generation is driving change

The recruiting tech changes not only are driven by the younger generation, but also by the highly competitive nature of recruiting, said Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

New ways of interacting with [younger workers] are key for recruiting.
Holger MuellerPrincipal analyst, Constellation Research

"With more and more younger professionals coming into the applicant pool, new ways of interacting with them are key for recruiting," Mueller said. "With the prevalence of text messages over email in the younger generations, using text to reach out to prospective candidates is, not surprisingly, a more effective way to get hold of them compared to email."

Mueller said it is a "good move" as well to reduce the "burden of the resume" for the millennial generation. It reduces the "hurdle height of applying for a job for many applicants," he said.

Text messaging is the platform of choice for younger workers. This is backed up by multiple surveys, including a recent one by LivePerson, a messaging and analytics provider, which reported that millennials (born after 1980) and Gen Z (born after 1995) greatly prefer -- by nearly 75% -- messaging and texting apps over other methods of communication.

Unsolicited text messaging requires caution

Text messaging is already widely used by recruiters to stay in touch with prospects, schedule appointments and arrange interviews. But using text messaging as an initial way to contact someone -- in lieu of a cold call or email -- with an unsolicited proposal is not as common.

The argument for unsolicited text messaging is that many people will list phone numbers on LinkedIn and GitHub, indicating they are open to being contacted. But vendors warn that there are risks to sending an unsolicited text message. It could easily turn off someone if they believe they are being spammed.

"Using text gets them better response rates" compared to email, said Robert Tsao, chief product officer at Jobvite. But that doesn't mean that users can just fire off text messages without carefully considering what they are doing, he said.

Tsao said that Jobvite's platform gives customers the ability to send unsolicited texts but said that good recruiters will be judicious about unsolicited outreach.

"The ability to send an initial text to a potential prospect is not automated. A recruiter must import the candidate's phone number, draft the correct language and press the send button -- no matter how many or few candidates they are contacting," Tsao said.

Chatbot capability is used with text messaging

Jobvite's text messaging also includes chatbot technology, which can automate some of the subsequent conversation.

The chatbot comes into play when a candidate responds and indicates interest in a potential position. The recruiter is able to program a conversation flow within the chatbot to respond to questions with preapproved answers, Tsao said.

Erich Hugunin, vice president of sales at TextUs, a messaging software firm focused on the staffing market, said text messaging has just opened up in the last few years as a major vehicle for reaching prospects. It's being driven by industry reports that say text messages are more likely to be read and responded to than an email.

"A phone call is much more disruptive" in reaching a candidate, Hugunin said. But the important thing is how the communication is handled, and users have to be cautious to keep messaging from turning off a candidate. "It's really about how you communicate, not just the technology itself," he said.

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