The Recruiter’s Guide to Text Messaging Candidates (Updated for 2018)

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These text message templates will equip your talent acquisition team to communicate with candidates the way they prefer: via SMS and popular messaging apps.

Closeup of hands typing a text message on a mobile phone.
Photo: Josh Felise via Unsplash

Messaging is the most widely used smartphone feature. A 2015 Pew Research study on U.S. smartphone usage found that 97 percent of American smartphone owners send at least one text message every day. A 2016 survey found that 29 percent of smartphone owners report using general-purpose messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, Kik, and WeChat. That number jumps to 42 percent for smartphone owners aged 18 to 29.

So why don’t more talent acquisition teams leverage the ubiquity of mobile messaging to connect with candidates? Ubiquity that’s fueled by ease of use and speed of communication – handy benefits when you’re trying to collect information, book interviews, and make hires as efficiently as possible?

Here are tips to efficiently, productively – and professionally – add messaging to your recruitment communications toolkit:

When To Message Your Candidates

Closeup of mobile phone that reads: “Jane, are you interested in the UX role?”

To get ahold of the candidate, plain and simple. When all other avenues have failed: Unreplied emails, unanswered calls, unreturned voicemails.  For example (using the classic 9-word email model):

<FIRST NAME>, are you interested in the <POSITION> role with <COMPANY>?


To schedule a call or interview. For example:

Hi <FIRST NAME>, are you free <DATE> at <TIME> ?


To confirm interviews. For example:

<FIRST NAME>, you have an interview with <COMPANY> on <DATE> at <TIME>


To share just-in-time information, such as directions to your office on the morning of their job interview. For example:

<FIRST NAME>, we’re looking forward to meeting you this morning! To help you find your way, here are directions to our office: <MAP URL>.

To follow up with candidates and ask for their feedback. For example:

Hi <FIRST NAME>. Thanks for spending the time letting us get to know you – we’d love to hear your feedback: <SURVEY URL>.


To qualify candidates with simple screening questions. For example:

Do you have at least 1 year’s experience working in an Agile development environment?


To answer candidate questions. For example:

Hi <FIRST NAME>, the benefits package does include a monthly transit pass.


To ask contacts for referrals. For example:

Hi <FIRST NAME>, do you know any colleagues who might be interested in <POSITION> with <COMPANY> in <LOCATION>? We offer a referral award – so do let me know.


When Not To Message Your Candidates

Closeup of mobile phone that reads: “Jane, we hired someone else. Better luck next time.”

When you’re unsure if their number is the right number to text. Don’t message them on their current employer’s company phone! Don’t text them on what might be a landline. Actually, just don’t text them …

When you haven’t asked their permission. Some old-style formalities are worth observing – because not everyone is going to be okay with you texting them. Ask their permission:

May I text you at <PHONE #> with further questions or updates?


When sharing complex information. Mobile phones are a convenient way to receive quick, easy to understand messages. They are not all that great for wading through complicated material. If you have something less than simple to share, please – send it by email. Or text a link to the details:

You can read the details of the benefits package here: <URL>


When sharing anything that might be misinterpreted.

When sharing potentially distressing information. Suck it up and give them the courtesy of a phone call. We all shake our heads at people who break up with their girl/boyfriends by text, right? Don’t be guilty of the recruiter’s equivalent. When in doubt, call.

Style Rules For Thumb-Typing To Talent

Text within business hours. You wouldn’t call your candidate at 9 pm on a Friday night to schedule an interview, would you? So don’t text them at that time.

Don’t leave them guessing as to who you are. Sign off with your name, title, and company in the first message. Nothing could be more disconcerting than being asked “How long have you been working at ABC Corp. for?” by a random phone number!

Keep it short – tweet-length (140 characters). Any longer probably warrants a call or email.

No shorthand, contractions, jargon, or lingo. There’s no guarantee your recipient will get the meaning. By the same token …

Make your message crystal-clear. Tone and word choice can so easily be misinterpreted in a text message. Don’t assume an implied message will be obvious. Spell. Everything. Out. Use emoji to communicate tone and non-verbal context.

Check your spelling. You don’t want you don’t want to become the butt of a hilarious/horrifying autocorrect meme.

Talk like a human. Anyone who’s ever received an automated text knows when it’s automated:

Reply YES JOBCODE for your referral reward


If you’re going to use a business SMS service like TextRecruit, or Upland Mobile Messaging, make sure any message templates are written like they come from a real human being. Spare your candidate’s the torture of robot-written messages.

When In Doubt

Write it like an email. Personable, conversational – and professional.

Christian De Pape, Recruiting Social’s Head of Marketing and Content
About the author

Christian De Pape is the head of brand experience at Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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