Texting Your Candidates: Is TextRecruit the New Way to Reach Out?

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“Effectively, email is broken,” said Erik Kostelnik, co-founder and CEO of TextRecruit. Kostelnik isn’t alone in worrying about diminishing response rates to recruiting emails: people have been fretting about it for years. How else, then, can recruiters quickly and easily reach out to candidates, especially when jobseekers are increasingly going mobile ? According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, 64 percent of active candidates and 58 percent of passive candidates use mobile devices to browse career opportunities.

TextRecruit, the brainchild of Kostelnik and John Danner, co-founder and CTO of the company, looks to solve the problem of poor email response by offering the first centralized texting platform built exclusively for recruiters. “It’s really like a Constant Contact mixed with Gmail for texting, all in one platform,” said Kostelnik.

Kostelnik, a veteran of the recruitment advertising industry, said that the idea for TextRecruit grew from some thinking he did while working with talent-sourcing service Identified. “When I looked at what our clients were interested in, I felt like mobile had been something that people talk a lot about but really hadn’t necessarily been cracked yet,” Kostelnik said.

Kostelnik is certainly right about that: LinkedIn Talent Solutions points out that only 20 percent of recruiters have mobile-optimized career sites. “So I wondered, ‘People are using mobile to communicate. What are recruiters doing to communicate with candidates through their mobile phones?’” said Kostelnik.

What Kostelnik discovered was that recruiters — including recruiters at major organizations — were using their personal phone lines and texting platforms to send text messages to candidates. “I felt that was really fragmented and broken, especially given the fact that you wouldn’t want to send an email from your personal account to a candidate’s personal account,” said Kostelnik. “You always want the company to manage the outbound communications.”

TextRecruit not only gives recruiters a professional account for texting candidates, but it also gives the company a way to manage these outbound communications. When a company signs up for TextRecruit, each recruiter is assigned a number, which they’ll use to text with candidates right from the platform. Recruiters can access TextRecruit via Web browser, and a mobile app will be available this month

Once in the platform, recruiters can add candidates directly from an applicant tracking system, a CSV or Excel file, or manually, one at a time. TextRecruit includes a series of pre-populated messages which recruiters can use, all of which can be easily personalized. The platform also tracks and reports click-through rates, open rates, read/write rates, and other metrics, which allow companies to easily track and manage their texting campaigns.

Kostelnik walked me through the platform via a screen share on join.me, and I was impressed by TextRecruit’s functionality and speed. Kostelnik demonstrated the entire process of starting a campaign, adding me as a candidate, and shooting me a personalized recruitment text, complete with a link to the job opening. The whole thing, from start to finish, took less than a minute. And thanks to TextRecruit’s streamlined interface, there’s little-to-no learning curve: after poking around for barely five minutes, I felt like an expert.

With a platform this easy to use, it’s no wonder that TextRecruit boasts such solid results: according to Kostelnik, clients are seeing a 28 percent response rate, with responses generally coming within the first 30 minutes of texts being sent. This is a massive increase from email response rates,which usually hover around 8 percent.

And recruiters aren’t the only people who benefit from TextRecruit — candidates get an easier, less intrusive way to talk with organizations. “What we’ve found is, texting is the least invasive form of communication that can get to somebody, because it’s free across all major platforms, and it’s not something like a cold call, where people kind of get caught at work,” said Kostelnik.

People are already using text messaging in the recruiting process, but TextRecruit offers a way to centralize and easily manage those communications. “It’s not doing anything different than [recruiters] are already currently doing, it’s just making it much easier and more effective when it comes to being able to do it at scale and actually having management see the performance of all these text messages that recruiters are sending across,” said Kostelnik.

For more information about TextRecruit, check out the product’s official website, where you’ll find overviews, pricing plan information, video walkthroughs, and a chance to try the system out for free.

By Matthew Kosinski