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Navigating the ‘Text Message Generation’

by | Aug 20, 2010 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Ever have a candidate not answer the phone?  Or not return a voice mail?  Was that candidate under the age of 30?  If so, chances are good they’re part of the “Text-Message Generation.”

In college football, coaches aren’t allowed to call recruits during certain times of the year.  Up until recently, they circumvented that rule by text-messaging their recruits.  It worked beautifully.  Why?  Because teenagers are more accustomed to texting than actually talking on the phone.  Now eventually, the NCAA banned coaches from texting recruits, but you get the idea.

So, what does that mean for you?

A number of things, especially if you’re planning to stay in the recruiting industry for any length of time.  First of all, you’d better learn how to text.  This might be difficult for somebody who makes a living by actually talking on the telephone.  And while you’re honing your texting skills, below are some things to think about.

The Text Message Generation has grown up with text-messaging.  For all intents and purposes, they can’t envision a time when it didn’t exist.  To veterans of the industry, it might seem like a fad.  However, it’s far from a fad; it’s one of the next steps in the evolution of communication.

The Text Message Generation has made text-messaging part of their everyday lives, just like recruiters have made talking on the phone part of their lives.  It’s a habit, part of their routine, and it’s not a habit they’re going to break anytime soon.  It would be like asking you to recruit without talking on the phone.

Some members of the Text Message Generation prefer to text instead of using the phone.  Incredulous as it might seem, this is true, especially for the younger members of the generation.  As a result, being proficient with their preferred mode of communication is a great way to enter their good graces and to relate to them more readily.

And when might texting a candidate be a good idea?  Whenever you deem it appropriate.  It might be right before a face-to-face, to wish them luck.  Or maybe instead of leaving a voice mail, you simply text them to “Give me a call.”  In essence, you’re only limited by your creativity.

And here’s more good news.  Texting is yet another way in which to communicate with candidates, another avenue that theoretically makes your job as a recruiter easier—if you take the time to use it and make it a part of your desk.  Reaching candidates when needed has always been a challenge for recruiters, and texting can help tackle that challenge in an innovative way.

Of course… there’s a flip side to this whole equation.  Texting also provides an easy way for candidates to send bad news to you.  After all, who wants to tell you over the phone that they’ve taken another offer at the last minute?  They might text you about it instead.  (Texting might be a great way to relate to younger candidates and create better channels of communication, but it won’t put an end to counteroffers and falloffs.)

So the next time you talk with a viable candidate, ask them if they text on a consistent basis.  It could be the foot in the door you need to start placing the next generation of top talent.

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