Tips for Text Messaging and Interviewing With Recruiters

Young man in coffee shop using smartphone, focus on hands
••• Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images

Before you start your job hunt, you might want to brush up on your texting skills, particularly if you are a seasoned employee who hasn’t been on the job market for a few years. According to Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiter Nation Survey, 43 percent of hiring managers have communicated with job candidates via text, with 88 percent reporting positive feedback from the job seeker.

In addition to conversations with recruiters, text job interviews are becoming more commonplace. Some companies even handle the entire process by text messaging. Christian Mairoll, CEO of Emsisoft, says, “We’ve been a fully-remote company for 15years and, during that time, have always interviewed via text. No face-to-face meetings or even voice calls. Text-only. And we find this to be enormously beneficial. As almost all our communication is via Slack, written communication skills are far more important than verbal skills."

There are benefits for job seekers, as well. Mairoll notes, "Text-based interviews are less stressful and enable candidates to talk without the performance-impacting nervousness that some experience during other forms of interview. This means we get to “see” who they really are. Furthermore, as we’re blind to things like disability, race/ethnicity, religion and, in some cases, even gender, our selection is entirely based on merit.” 

Review advice on how to make the best impression when you're text messaging or interviewing with a recruiter.

Tips for Texting With a Recruiter

Communicating through text poses unique challenges, since the medium, by its very nature, demands that one be concise and to-the-point. So, how do you ensure that you can present yourself as positively as you might in an email (where you can go into more detail) or on a telephone call (where the tone of voice and enthusiasm can easily be conveyed)?

Keep a Professional Tone

You will show yourself at your best if you maintain a degree of formality and professionalism in all your communications with a recruiter, regardless of the tools you are using. Many use a casual tone for texting their friends and family. You need to take it up a notch when you're talking to a recruiter or any other professional connection.

Don't Initiate Contact by Text

Generally, you should not be the one to initiate contact with a job recruiter or potential employer through a text message. Send your initial job application and resume through traditional channels, and communicate afterward via email or phone as warranted.

Your follow-up after a job interview should not be sent by text, either – not only is this poor manners, but texting doesn’t allow you the message length you’ll need to create an effective and eye-catching “thank you for our interview” letter that will enhance your hiring prospects. However, if a recruiter reaches out to you by text, then they will expect a text in return.

Use Business Standards

Once a recruiter has established that he or she prefers to communicate through text, it’s time to think about your language and phrasing. Your text message should be correct in every detail and as carefully written as any business communication with someone you don't know well.

  • Spell out all your words, using no abbreviations or acronyms.
  • Don't use any emoticons or emojis unless the recruiter does first.
  • If you have a text "signature" that is sent at the bottom of every text message, make sure it's appropriate for use in professional communication.
  • Check and recheck your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and watch out for autocorrect errors.
  • Because texting, like phone conversations, is “real time” communication, only send your text to a recruiter during normal business hours.

Get Your Message Across

You want to keep your text message as short as possible, but don't be afraid to convey information that will heighten the recruiter's interest in you.

  • Express enthusiasm for the opportunity you're writing about, just as you would in person.
  • Briefly mention the qualifications or experience that make you ideal for the job.
  • Before you hit send, check that you're sending the text to the right person.

Sample Text Message Example (Text Version)

Dear Ms. Stanford – I was excited to receive your text regarding the position opening at ABC Company. As I noted in my resume, I am eager to find a new opportunity to fully utilize my leadership, project management, and communications talents, and thus I am very interested in seeing where this may lead. Please let me know our next step in this process – thank you!

Stand By to Respond

After you send your text, make sure you're ready to respond as needed.

  • Promptly reply to any questions asked by return text.
  • If the recipient responds at all, a simple "thank you" for the response can be a polite gesture.
  • Make sure your voicemail message sounds professional, just in case the person decides to call you back rather than texting.
  • If you prefer contact by text, consider writing "Text Messages Accepted" next to your cell number on your resume.

Above all, don't worry that following these rules will make you sound like a cold fish. Your first few contacts with a job recruiter should show that you understand how to be professional. And that's true no matter what tools you use to communicate.

Tips for Handling a Text Job Interview

You've just been invited for a text interview. Now what? What's the best way to handle it? Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas, the first text-based intelligent interviewing system, shares his advice for acing a text interview:

  1. Be concise. In a text-based interview, you don’t have to be verbose. In fact, being succinct and to-the-point is a really effective way to communicate, especially via text. Choose your words wisely. Just like you would want to be succinct during a phone screen, it is even more important to get to the point during a text-based interview. Don’t reiterate what’s already on your resume. Instead, spend time explaining why you’re passionate about the line of work, what drives you, and how your previous professional experiences tie into the role you’re exploring.
  2. Take your time. A major benefit of text-based interviews is that they give you time to craft a well-thought-out response. Don’t be afraid to take the time you need to articulate your message. It's okay to take a moment to process the question and put together a thoughtful response. Text interviews remove some of the pressure to think on your feet, affording you a chance to put your best foot forward—something especially appreciated by introverted candidates. Taking the time to compose a well-written and convincing argument for why an employer should hire you is in your best interest and makes the decision process easier for the interviewer.
  3. Be business casual. Even though the interview is taking place via text, you can still use it as an opportunity to show off your business personality. If a recruiter sends you an emoji or Bitmoji, consider it a positive sign that they’re trying to build a friendly rapport and put you at ease. Don’t be afraid to insert an emoji or Bitmoji (after the recruiter does, so you know it's acceptable) to add a personal touch, as it can be a great indicator of how you’ll fit into the company’s culture. It’s important to talk about who you are professionally, but adding some hints about who you are outside of work can be the difference between getting a job offer and getting a rejection.
  4. Ask questions. A text interview may seem like a super preliminary step to the on-phone or in-person interview, but don’t let that deter you from getting as much information up-front as possible. Be sure to ask for information such as the job description, office perks, team off-sites and outings, and benefits packages. It shows initiative and that you are genuinely interested in the work environment and company brand.