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With the majority of job-seekers already using smart phones to apply to jobs, savvy HR teams are turning to mobile applications to enhance the candidate experience, as well as the onboarding experience. According to recent Aberdeen research, mobile optimization will separate Leaders from Followers in the competition for top talent. We interviewed Erik Kostelnik, Founder and CEO of TextRecruit, to get an inside perspective:

Q: Last October, you commented that your customers sent over 100,000 texts, achieving 99% open rates and as high as 60% response rates. Are your customers still experiencing such impressive metrics? What do you attribute this success to?

A: Amazingly, TextRecruit’s customers have only improved on those metrics over the past year due to multiple factors. The growth of daily mobile usage and the Millennial workforce have created a world where more recruiting texts are being sent. But we have also made changes to TextRecruit. We made it easier for customers to verify mobile numbers before they send a message, leading to increased open rates. Our customers can now also test their text recruiting campaigns and optimize their tone, cadence, and scheduling to maximize responsiveness. Texting has grown up as a solution for businesses.

Q: What main problem are you trying to solve for recruiters?

A: Technology is advancing at a pace that is going to make whatever tool was disruptive five years ago obsolete. When I look at the human resource technology industry, there are two core hypotheses that we are betting on for the next 35 years.

  1. People Data is going to be commoditized. All information on people, like their location, jobs, experience, contact information, skill set, and references is going to be readily available on the internet through search or big data companies. An example would be a retailer being able to search for all the cashiers in Chicago and having access to their profiles immediately.

If we are right about #1. Then,

  1.  The most valuable technology will be communication tools. Since you know all the cashiers in Chicago, the decision becomes how do you contact them? There are four ways to communicate for a recruiter: phone call, email, text, or social (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, etc.). Recruiters will use whatever communication tool is most effective, and currently that is text message. I don’t believe these communication tools will change, but companies like TextRecruit will continue developing the enterprise software to leverage these new ways of communicating, like through Facebook Messenger, which we are working on now.

Given the massive drop off recruiters have seen with people responding to emails or answering the phone, we are focused on making new communication tools enterprise-ready. Just like email evolved into personal and professional accounts, companies will need the ability to manage these new communication tools through TextRecruit.

Today, recruiters’ most precious resource is time, and too much of it is spent trying to get responses and move candidates through the hiring funnel. We want to make sure the sourcing, screening, interview scheduling, and onboarding processes flow efficiently, so recuiters can spend more time identifying the best talent for their workforce needs. Making texting part of the recruitment process is the best way to do that.

Q: Back in April, you wrote about a court decision that stipulated that recruitment texts did not constitute SPAM. You wrote that this was good news, from a legal standpoint, but what evidence do you have that recipients don’t view these messages as SPAM?

A: TextRecruit’s customers currently average a .01% unsubscribe rate from their candidates. Job seekers appreciate the convenience and speed of texting just as much as recruiters. Our customers tell us that texting differentiates them from other employers and actually gives them a leg up on the hiring competition.

Q: Part of the pitch around TextRecruit is that it “rounds out” the communications toolkit for recruiters, which, as you write, includes “call, email, LinkedIn InMail.” After a year, are recruiters beginning to see it that way?

A: For most of the recruiters we work with, TextRecruit has become an everyday tool. Liberty Mutual credited TextRecruit with 20% of new hires to its sales team. Every employee that onboards with SSM Health receives text message updates giving them information on training and scheduling. Six Flags is attracting talent at their theme parks on a daily basis with TextApply shortcodes, having candidates apply for jobs via text message. There is no more effective way of recruiting right now than texting.

Q: Taking that last question to a higher level, how do you convince people to adopt a new tool and build it into their normal way of doing things?

A: The majority of our clients were already using text message, but didn’t have a way to control or scale it within their organization. Effectiveness and simplicity have become the keys for us. We designed TextRecruit to show recruiters exactly how their team is performing in terms of candidates messaged, open rates, and response rates, so it’s easy for managers to monitor the results. We also want to fit into recruiters’ workflows, so we built a browser extension called TextRecruit Everywhere that helps recruiters select templates, verify mobile numbers, and message candidates from anywhere on the web — like ATS’s, job boards, and LinkedIn.

Q: You’ve recently launched TextHR. How is that going? Arent there already enterprise texting solutions? What makes TextHR different?

A: There are a ton of internal chat tools like Slack and Hipchat, but those are application-based and not a good fit for teams that are decentralized with a large amount of employees that are non-knowledge workers. Text message is built into every phone in the world and 63% of the active mobile devices are not internet ready, which begs the questions of how to engage them? I use an example of a large hospital system. If they want to notify everyone of open enrollment (including janitors and greeters), or if there is an emergency, they are going to want to use TextHR, because everyone has text. 100% of their employees have text on their mobile devices.  

We announced TextHR at SHRM’s annual conference earlier this year and have seen a lot of excitement. Some of the use-cases we are seeing with TextHR include using it to schedule trainings, send open enrollment notification, onboard new employees, and coordinate emergency preparedness. It’s different than other enterprise texting solutions, because we can guarantee that messages will be delivered, track clicks and responses, automate messages, and integrate with HRIS’s. It’s going to make life much easier for large HR teams.

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