is it weird to text a job applicant for your first contact with them?

A reader writes:

I’ve been working for my current company for about five years. I’ve been in charge of recruiting/hiring for my current property the past two years now and I typically hire hourly workers. When I started the recruiting/hiring aspect of my job, I was super excited. But I quickly learned that our cloud-based recruiting program was not going to make my job easy. The program takes a “mobile-friendly approach,” meaning it encourages recruiters and hiring managers to correspond with candidates via text messages.

When an application comes through, we’ve got 24 hours to send the applicant a text message request, which says something along the lines of, “Company X is trying to send you a message. Do you accept?” The problem is that Company X manages a whole slew of franchised properties, which are made up of multiple brands. So, a candidate may see the job posting is for Company Y, have no clue that it’s a franchised location, and then be confused as to why Company X wants to text them about Company Y. If I were in the applicant’s shoes, I’d probably think Company X was trying to scam me.

If I had to guess, I’d say a good 50% of our applicants ignore the message requests entirely. And, for those who accept them, I’ve taken to asking, “How did you feel when you were contacted about the position via text?” during the interview. A few have said they’ve liked it, but most said that receiving a text from Company X about Company Y threw them off in some way.

In my opinion, the “mobile-friendly approach” is limiting. And, if you don’t fire off that initial text request within 24 hours, it will alert our corporate office. Calling the candidate doesn’t count. When I brought this up to the corporate team, they explained that this is how they track our “level of engagement” and check up on what we’re saying to candidates. And I get that—but I’m not someone who needs/wants the corporate team to hold my hand when I review applications and talk to candidates.

The program also doesn’t allow recruiters or hiring managers to see the applicants’ actual resumes. Instead, the program pulls out all of the “relevant” information and dumps it into a very basic file. We used to be able to see the resumes, but our company opted to get rid of that option about a year ago. Our corporate team said this was done to “simplify things” for recruiters and hiring managers.

Am I out of touch or is this just a poor way to recruit and hire? Do other companies text their applicants? If so, is it working for them? Our corporate team says this is the way of the future, but I’m not so sure.

Also, I know I’m using the program correctly because the head of our corporate talent department trained me (and she loves the program). And I’m in my mid-twenties, so it’s not like I didn’t grow up texting. Texting job seekers before any other kind of correspondence just feels … unprofessional.

This whole system is terrible! In no particular order:

* Texting job candidates as a first contact will feel weird to a lot of people. Most people are used to being called or emailed, at least for the initial contact from an employer. Some people won’t mind the texts, but a lot of people will find them overly casual or unprofessional. (Also: Why? There are other methods of communication that work better here.)

* Your point about identifying yourself as being with Company X when the person applied to Company Y is well-taken. Lots of people will be confused or assume the message is spam. I don’t know why they’d use that “Company X is trying to send you a message. Do you accept?” wording anyway — why not just open with, “I’m contacting you about your application for the X position with Company Y”?

* You can’t see the person’s resume?! You’re going to get a lot of irritated candidates who don’t know why they’re having to explain points that were on their resume or in their cover letter, which they’ll assume you’ve seen, and that’s going to make you look bad, like you’re not doing the basics of your job before contacting them (which is not your fault, but they won’t know that).

* Anything that measures your “level of engagement” solely by texts and doesn’t consider phone calls or emails is a bad system, built on bad assumptions.

* If your company wants to “check up” on what you’re saying to candidates, they can have you use a very standard applicant tracking system, where tracking communications with candidates is nearly always a feature that can be enabled.

* How is this system accounting for people who put down a land line for the number on their resume? There are still land lines out there.

* Is the whole conversation happening via text or are you switching to the phone at some point?   I hope and pray that you’re not expected to do initial interviews or screenings by text, but if you are, please provide me with your company’s address so that I can vent my frustration by vandalizing its parking lot or similar.

* 50% of your applicants ignore the texts. That’s an indictment right there, even without the rest of it.

So yes, it sucks and it sucks for multiple reasons.

I’d tell you to push back on it, but it doesn’t sound like your company is interested in feedback; it sounds like they’re interested in automating, period. But maybe you can get the managers whose teams you’re hiring for to push back on it (and who are presumably are in those interviews when candidates express how weird they found this); they may have more clout.

{ 317 comments… read them below }

  1. Kella*

    It’s very weird to me that this company is putting so much effort into “tracking engagement” and automating everything but then not utilizing one of the benefits of tracking and automation, which is noting how their different strategies actually perform. They could just have half their recruiters send a different text that says “I’m contacting you about your application for the X position with Company Y” and compare the numbers.

    Also this bit: “they explained that this is how they track our “level of engagement” and check up on what we’re saying to candidates.” You… can’t do that with email? Pretty sure you can do that with phone calls to but I don’t see why it would be any easier to track your outgoing text messages than to track your outgoing emails.

    1. 2 Cents*

      Yeah, I work in marketing and can absolutely attest you can track phone calls, have the text transcribed automatically and review it, if you so desire. This is just strange.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Honestly, this makes me feel like someone got taken in by a sales pitch and is now stubbornly refusing to concede that might have been a bad move.

      Sunk cost fallacy all the way.

      1. Ray Gillette*

        That was my first thought. It reminds me of how one of my earliest projects at my first job out of college was being given a fancy, expensive program that I didn’t know how to use and being tasked with finding a way to get value out of it, though of course not in so many words. Nobody ever admitted it, but I’m pretty much convinced that the CEO got taken in by the shiny sales pitch without thinking about whether we had a valid use case.

        The other thing I remember was how a few years later, the company we bought the shiny program from was expelled from a major industry conference for badge sharing. This was a multibillion dollar company and they got expelled from a major conference over a few thousand bucks. There’s probably a lesson in here somewhere.

        1. Red Boxes and Arrows*

          I had that job once, too. Back in the days before desktop computers were ubiquitous and everything was huge servers and dumb terminals. I was newly hired and handed an expensive standalone desktop that had a newly-purchased software program on it that could draw rudimentary shapes and lines. (Seriously, black background with colored lines. A dozen steps just to draw an oval).

          They wanted me to use it to draw diagrams of. . . ? No one could ever tell me. I was a datacom tech, so I asked if they wanted our standard datacom cabinet mapped out. Nope. Maybe a map of our network of dumb terminals? Nope. The layout of each floor of the 6-story building? Nope.

          Every now and then, a gaggle of VPs would come to my area and ask me how the software was doing (usually while also slapping my huge CRT monitor, ala a used car salesperson). “Great, great! The software is great. Draws really good shapes.” They’d all smile and nod and move on.

          Someone high up had definitely made a multi-thousand dollar bad purchase.

          1. On Fire*

            Oh, yeah. At Old Job, Bizarre Boss assigned me to lead a special project. Wanted me to use a specific project management software for said project. Which wouldn’t run on my Mac, so he had IT buy a new laptop for me, solely for using the software.

            I was and am not a PM. I had never used the software. Nor was I ever trained to use it. It took me more time to figure out how to set up the project in the software, than to map out the entire project on a legal pad and in a spreadsheet. So, the laptop sat unused while I ran the special project with tools that I knew and was efficient with. (I also left that job shortly after the project was completed, and have never once regretted it.)

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I agree, that’s absolutely what it sounds like. And they’ll cling to it until someone (probably an outside consultant since they don’t sound like they’re open to feedback) can show them how much they’re losing.

        I’m living this issue right now. People are trying to use the New Shiny Software to automate processes that just cannot be automated properly. I get it, it’s time consuming and tedious to do it the right way so finding a faster cheaper way would be great! But jamming a software tool at us and telling us to make it work isn’t going to solve anything especially when the early results are clearly demonstrating that it’s generating garbage. I’m going to keep yelling into the void about this issue but all I hear is “Yes, upper management agrees there is a concern” and then crickets. It’s about as meaningful as “your call is important to us, please stay on the line.”

    3. Le Sigh*

      This whole process feels almost like a deliberate attempt to create the most inefficient system possible.

    4. MassMatt*

      That “level of engagement” bit really made me cringe, it’s a management buzzword-phrase I’ve rarely heard used by someone who wasn’t an out-of-touch idiot.

      How about measuring engagement with the people you’re trying to actually engage? The people you’re attempting to hire? Half the people who go through the trouble of applying for your jobs are not responding to your attempts to follow up with them? That is terrible by any metric.

      The “do you accept?” text reeks of spam, why in the world send that? You might as well send an email saying you’re a Nigerian prince.

      Your system doesn’t even have the ability to save resumes? “Wave of the future”, my ass!

      This hiring process is deeply dysfunctional, and that they are sending canned responses by text as the initial contact is the least of it!

      I would gladly join Alison in vandalizing their parking lot on general principle.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I would be in the 50% who would see the initial text as a red flag. I would avoid Company X like the plague, and wonder why Company Y never responded to my application.

        Metrics are useful tools, if you measure the right things, and if you know what you’re measuring.

        1. AMD*

          One day I got a text from an out of state area code from some names I had never heard in my life telling me to download an app for something I’d never heard of. It said to text back a code to be removed so I did that assuming it was either a scam or wrong number. So then I get a text from a local number asking me if my kids were no longer interested in the extra curricular activity I signed them up for. They were still interested and I explained that there was nothing in the text indicating who they were or why they were contacting me so I assumed it wasn’t for me. The out of state phone number was from the app. The names were the coaches names but those hadn’t been provided upon registration. The something was the name for the level my kids would be on since they would be new to the sport. They didn’t use the name of the organization the sport is through or the name of the actual sport in the text (the name for the level wasn’t how they listed the levels on their website). My kids did participate and enjoyed it but that experience defiently gave me a negative first impression of the program.

          1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

            The management company that operates my condo recently switched to a new payment handling service, which emails its monthly statement as follows: From a donotreply@randomcompanyname address, subject line “estatement – [meaningless to me alphanumeric code]”, absolutely no body text at all, and a pdf attachment. The first time I received this message I flagged it as spam — there was no way I was going to click on that attachment to find out what it was. Later when my partner was on the phone with the management company trying to figure out how the new system worked, I realized what it was and clawed it back.

            There are a lot of really terribly designed and/or terribly configured systems out there.

        2. Smishy*

          I would absolutely assume this was spam. I pretty much send any text that’s not from someone I recognize straight to the junk box and that’s BEFORE noticing the weird language and confusing companies in this one.

      2. Nicotene*

        To me, this indicates that the company is viewing candidates like potential future clients, so it wants to have them enrolled in the system in this specific way for Big Data collection (just like Indeed wants you to send your emails through their system and, as Alison said, “keep engaging with their site.”) Sadly, I feel like I saw this more and more the last time I was jobseeking. Companies didn’t invite me for an interview but took the time to add me to their mailing list, spam my phone with advertising texts, etc. I started to wonder if some of the positions were fake.

    5. Software Engineer*

      Yeah is very weird they seem to only be ‘tracking engagement’ of what the recruiters are doing and not using the data about how much the candidates are engaging back which is low. If people actually proactively applied (vs recruiting sourcers reaching out trying to get candidates in the pipeline) then 50% engagement seems low! If 50% of the people who APPLIED for your job are ignoring your first communication you’re doing it wrong

  2. Snailing*

    Wow, I would hate this approach as a candidate.

    I’m a millennial, so I’m very comfortable with texting in general, but I even hate using text when I’m well established at my workplace. It’s inefficient, I can’t keep track of it, and it feels too flippant. Plus, the way you’ve described it feels very phishy to me and I would assume it was spam and probably block the number.

    1. ScienceMommy*

      That’s exactly what I thought! I’d immediately feel like I was being scammed and I wouldn’t respond.

      1. Kella*

        If anything, I feel like this strategy is indicative of *not* being tech savvy. Tech savvy people recognize this language as a sign of a scam.

        It’s like the time a stranger sent me nothing but a link to a video in a PM on twitter. There are a million hacking scams that start with a video link so I didn’t click it. Their account seemed to be a real person so I asked them if they meant to send me the link. They said yes and apologized for sending a DM if I didn’t want to be messaged. They had no idea that when you send a link with no other text, that 9 times out of 10, that link is a scam.

        1. Elenna*

          I suspect this is being pushed by non-tech-savvy upper management who were told “this is the Way of the Future!” and didn’t know enough to realize how terrible this is. And probably they now aren’t willing to admit it’s working badly after they spent a ton on this software…

          1. Lacey*

            1000% yes. I don’t have that kind of management, but I’ve heard nightmare stories from a friend who’s got a micromanaging “outreach director” deciding all kinds of crazy things based on only the barest knowledge of how people actually use technology.

          2. OP*

            I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told this is “the way of the future.” They think we’re ahead of the curve…

            1. XF1013*

              Even if this system is the way of the future, what is the advantage of switching to it prematurely? The world outside your company isn’t ready for it right now, so your company is willing to do significant harm to themselves in the present for the hypothetical possibility of patting themselves on the back in the future for having been early adopters.

              1. Le Sigh*

                Also, even if this is the way of the future, the system they’ve actually set up is terrible!

                1. Mockingjay*

                  But early adopter sounds so much cooler.

                  A dozen years ago, I proposed Great New System for tracking stuff. I made the pitch to management and the Senior Engineer looked at me and asked: “Who is the lowest common denominator?” She went on: “these are great bells and whistles, but only you will use them. A system is only as good as the people who use it.” Talk about having an epiphany.

                  Every data management system or database I’ve created, run, or used since then, I always ask who’s the LCD?

                  Unfortunately, the Powers That Be don’t always listen to these ‘mundane’ aspects of system design and whether the end user will actually – use it.

        2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          I had a friend do this! A 35-year-old friend, at that.

          She sent me some “IMPORTANT: Click Video Here” link and then got super upset when I blocked her and messaged her on another platform that she’d been hacked. “No! It’s a really important video! You need to watch it!”

          Turns out, it was something about gas stations having card skimmers, badly clipped from a local news broadcast. Her IT husband had to explain why all her friends were upset with her.

          1. Mongrel*

            Ugghhh – I have an acquaintance who only seems to send me No Subject e-mails with a bitly link in them.
            I tried one of them a while ago, in a sandbox, and it was an ‘article’ from a past-their-prime UK bigot\comedian trying to tout a Bitcoin trading company.
            I checked and yes it’s him. I’ve told him why it’s a dodgy look and anything else like that will get binned immediately so of course he still does it.

      2. boo bot*

        Same. I would delete this and never think about it again. So count me among that 50% who never respond, I guess!

      3. Kimmybear*

        Does the text also tell you you have an Amazon credit? Or that your phone has been hacked? I suspect they don’t hire IT people this way.

        1. English, not American*

          The one doing the rounds at my workplace is “your package has been returned to our depot, to find out how to collect it click this link pretending to be Royal Mail but if you know anything about how subdomains work it’s clearly a completely unrelated site”

          1. londonedit*

            I keep getting ‘HSBC: at 15:10 on 25/03/2021 you set up a payment to a new contact. If you did not set up this payment, use the following link to cancel [link that is not HSBC]’. I don’t even have an account with HSBC.

          2. Mongrel*

            I almost fell for that, I was getting a lot of packages at the time, but it was only looking for money there was no tracking information.
            I’ve also seen ones from other carriers so take care.

          1. Worldwalker*

            There is a landline phone on the desk in my home office, the desk where I spend most of my waking hours. I get maybe one legitimate phone call a day. (and half the time it’s my mother) So if I answer the phone and an actual human says “Wow, are you hard to get a hold of!” I know it’s a phone spammer. I’ve given up being polite to them … mostly, I swear at them in a variety of languages. (sadly, most of the time it’s that freaking auto warranty robocall … for the record, I drive a car that’s not only old enough to vote, it’s old enough to run for Congress … and I do my own repairs)

    2. meyer lemon*

      Maybe it’s just me, but it’s also slow and awkward to text in a reasonably professional and grammatically correct way, with proper capitalization, spacing and punctuation. What would take me 30 seconds to type in an email would probably take several minutes in a text. And it’s easy to send a half-composed message by accident.

      1. Lacey*

        Excellent point. I would be highly stressed out by that. My phone is always autocorrecting words in awkward ways and I often don’t catch it like I would in an email.

      2. Rhonda*

        My boss and I text but it’s always something quick like “Please approve your time card.” or “Hey, do you mind if I take this afternoon off?”. Anything that takes more than one sentence to respond to is gonna be an email or a phone call. I get approximately 10 spam calls/texts a day between my work and personal phone so anything that looks even mildly “phish”y to me is just going to be automatically deleted.

      3. MassMatt*

        Yes, there are things texting would be good for in the application process (confirming meeting times, etc) but initial contact after submitting an application is not one of them. This is so dumb on so many levels.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      YES! It’s hard to keep track of text messages – I don’t want them to host important information.

    4. DoubleE*

      I completely agree with you, Snailing. I’m also a millennial and very comfortable with texting in my personal life, but I just haven’t accepted it as a good method of communication for a professional setting – especially for an initial contact. If I got the text the LW described, my first reaction would be to assume it was a scam. Even if I realized it was legit, I’d have serious reservations about continuing through the hiring process with a company that thinks this is a good way to contact people.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I’m technically a boomer but likewise very comfortable with texting … typically, yesterday I wasted entirely too much time having a chat about varieties of tomatoes, local growing conditions, the relative merits of various planters, etc., with my spouse’s co-worker who was handling the plant sales for a company charity project. (I started just asking when I should pick them up, and it just kinda continued from there … you get two tomato geeks together, and they won’t shut up) But just because I’m eager to chat about tomatoes, or antiques, or whatever, doesn’t mean I want to do *business* that way. And a weird text from a (purported) company I’ve never contacted? Yeah, that’s delete+block before they try to sell me an auto warranty.

        When half of the people who have applied for a position don’t even respond, that’s DISengagement.

    5. LCH*

      i’m trying to imagine giving long answers via text message. i have to retype every other word in a text it seems because of typos and auto correct. and my giant fingers and teeny keyboard. no. no. no.

      i had a company recently try to conduct all of its customer service via text. would not answer the phone and there was no email. it was the worst. they would take hours to answer my question, but close the ticket if i didn’t respond within 30 min. i bet they had this system too.

    6. Alcott*

      My car insurance agency decided to test out texting communications instead of email or calling without notifying me ahead of time to opt in or opt out. In response, the agent got an extremely irate email from me threatening to terminate my policy if that’s how he chooses to run his business (there’s more to the story, but the text message is what really put me over the edge). Texting is for informal correspondence; email is for business correspondence. I’m squarely in the millennial bracket. I’d have blocked this phone number immediately because it reads like a scam.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My pharmacy uses texts for refills. So I will get a text saying that two prescriptions are in. I have more than two routine prescriptions. It would be nice to know which two are in. But I am not told this. Sadly, independent pharmacies with an old guy behind the counter are pretty much a thing of the past. Those places didn’t give me the aggravations.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Hm. I get mine from Costco, and the texts tell me what it is that’s ready to be picked up. Bug your pharmacy about it — their system may well have that capability and they’re just not using it.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          It can definitely be better than that. CVS sends me texts that say “Your prescription XY is ready for pickup” or “ready for refill.” Yes, someone might have two prescriptions whose names begin with the same two letters, but at least the odds are in my favor this way. (Five prescriptions, whose names begin with five different pairs of letters.)

          Similarly, I suspect that the OP’s company could send them a better version of resumes–maybe strip off name and address, but leave the rest–and I wouldn’t be surprised if they could do it with the current annoying software, just like they could have a starting text that doesn’t feel like spam.

    7. Cat Tree*

      Honestly, the texting manages to be the least bad part of the whole system. I could maybe get on board with the texting if everything else was better. (Although I would still prefer email, which is functionally the same for smartphones.)

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes! They are literally the same thing, except for that mentally email is for professional stuff and text messaging is probably a family member with an emergency. Nothing drives me crazier than that now every sales website, doctors office, etc both texts and emails me at the same time.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Texting and email aren’t the same, practically speaking. Some key differences I see:

          1) Emails are stored on a server that the company can access, whereas text messages are stored on one’s phone (and maybe the phone company’s servers?). If I lose my phone, my text messages are gone.

          2) From what I’ve read, email can be more secure compared to text messages, since emails can be encrypted. I don’t think SMS/MMS can be encrypted (I could totally be wrong about this).

          3) In the Before Times, one could go to the library or other public spaces to access a computer with internet to check email. Not everyone has a texting plan, so it may exclude people who either don’t have a cell phone (lucky…) and/or don’t have a texting plan.

          1. Koalafied*

            I agree that in general they have really critical difference. Cat Tree said “for smartphones,” though, and I think that’s a valid point – if the company’s goal is to be “mobile friendly,” an email is no less smartphone-friendly than an SMS. It’s not as if email requires a desktop computer and is thus “not mobile friendly.” And my suspicion is that someone who is still using a non-smartphone in 2021 is probably not the kind of person who wants all of their communication to take place on their phone.

            1. nonegiven*

              I still use a flip phone for now. I’d rather have email. I hate when companies send me a survey by text. What am I supposed to do with that? Type in a bunch of random letters and symbols while having to keep turning the light on my phone back on? I’d like to tell them to hang up and send an email so I can tell their survey to hang up and send me an email.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        The worst is that the company withholds useful information from its own people, and tells them that they actually are much happier this way.

    8. Not A Girl Boss*

      Yes, seriously! I’m a millennial of the “I will pay any amount of money not to have to call and speak to a human to place my takeout order” variety. But texting is not an acceptable professional form of communication.

      On my last application, I had several phone calls and emails before someone from the company ended up texting me to schedule a follow up interview. I just kind of held my phone out and blinked at it for a while, genuinely shocked that they would be texting me. It ended up being somewhat convenient to be able to go back and forth about times without getting a phone call in the middle of my work day. So, there is that.

      But as a first contact? Hell no. Even if by some miracle I didn’t assume it was spam, I would have doubts about a company who used this method of communication.

      1. Not A Girl Boss Clone*

        Same!! (Are you my clone?!) I hate phone calls, and email would be preferred, but texting to me is a personal thing, or just a quick text from a boss or coworker is fine. Email is just like texting but way more professional.

        Once I had a recruiter text me at 9pm to say I could call before 10pm to set up an interview for later in the week. This couldn’t have been done via email?! Very odd and I found it unprofessional, especially as I was getting ready for bed! I wouldn’t have thought twice about an email coming in at that time, but a text was weird.

        1. Self Employed*

          Wow. I’ve done textbanking and we’re not even allowed to respond to texts in a conversation after 9 PM the other party’s local time (FCC regulations).

    9. Anonymous because it's not my story*

      I know a ‘rockstar’ software engineer with an in-demand specialty who refuses to have a cell phone. Instead of texts, he uses email on his iPad. If you’re one of the many people trying to recruit him, you’re going to be out of luck if you don’t have email.

      1. nonegiven*

        This wouldn’t be the same guy that gave a presentation on hacking his own computer after it was stolen at Def Con?

    10. Inca*

      I hate how many more or less legitimate businesses have processes in place that are so bad that you can’t tell them apart from dodgy scammers! Why do they do that? It hurts everyone except for the grifters and scammers.

    11. Koalafied*

      Texting definitely feels too personal and a bit intrusive for a first employer contact. I only sit down to process email when I’m in a mindset to deal with action items and responding to emails etc. A text reaches into my personal “me time.”

      It also feels like there’s more of an expectation of an immediate response with SMS compared to email, but at the same time I hesitate to reply instantly because I worry it’ll set the expectation that I’m actively “on the line,” so to speak, and available for a real-time back and forth. So I would be stressing over trying to delay my response enough to convey, “I don’t read and respond to all texts in real-time,” but not so long that it slips my mind and I forget to respond until 2 days later.

    12. Aaron*

      Currently a job hunting millennial. I’d be open to getting a text message saying I got an email, but very much would prefer to do my correspondence through email. Aside from texting being used for lots of disposable things (grocery lists and the like) I’m going to want to sit down and think through responses to job stuff.
      There may be a bit of a class angle too. Plenty of people can afford an old computer, those can chug along for over a decade, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who saves by using a very old phone with a limited plan.

    1. Generic Name*

      This is a good idea. Call and say they will be receiving an automated text, so don’t be surprised and explain it will say it’s from Company Y, which is the parent company of Company X that they applied with (or whatever quick explanation is accurate).

    2. meyer lemon*

      Depending on how the system works, I’d be pretty tempted to do the bare minimum on the text side and do my regular communication strategy at the same time. Maybe candidates will find it weird to receive both a text and an email, but at least it avoids filtering out half the recipients. I might even ask them to resend their resume if I could find a good excuse to do it.

    3. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I was wondering this, or even sending an email since OP could more quickly send out several at a time.

    4. Crowley*

      I mean I’m sure they could, but I’ll bet if OP tried it they’d get into trouble for circumventing the system. And also, if someone called me and said that I’d be deeply weirded out and would try and get OP to JUST TALK TO ME RIGHT THEN AND THERE INSTEAD. And if they wouldn’t I’d see that as a red flag about the company in general.

      1. Smishy*

        To be fair, that red flag seems pretty justified given how poor this company’s process are. Those 50% who never responded dodged a bullet here.

      2. LTL*

        Well apparently they can’t track phone calls, so maybe OP’s in the clear…

        OP can just give the candidates a heads up that their company’s system requires them to answer the text before scheduling an initial interview. It’s hard to respond to that with “no, I want to schedule something now.”

    5. A Library Person*

      I mean, yes, but at that point as a candidate I would feel a bit led on and I’d wonder, if they were bothering to call, why we couldn’t just have that conversation over the phone. As a millennial whose primary mode of personal (i.e., non-work) communication is through text messages, I would find this bizarre, off-putting, and potentially a sign of a company that would force me to jump through unnecessary and burdensome technological hoops because they use a system for the sake of using a system instead of because it’s a good system to use.

      1. A Library Person*

        Also, this feels like the equivalent of calling five minutes after sending an email asking if they got the email, only reversed. At some point I’d feel overwhelmed and wouldn’t bother responding at all.

        1. Lyra Silvertongue*

          Yeah it’s also not clear to me at what stage of the application process this is coming at, because the LW writes that they have 24 hours to send a text message after an application comes in. Does that mean there is no screening between applicants submitting their resumes and receiving a text message? That’s even spammier if so.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            It sounds like they’re primarily using this system to track the recruiters – not the recruitment process. So OP as a recruiter has 24 hours after receiving the application to send the applicant the text if they want the applicant to move forward. So they have to screen everyone the same day the application comes in.

            1. Good Vibes Steve*

              That whole rationale is so illogical. The applicant just sent in the application – of course they want to move forward! It’s highly unlikely that in the last 24 hours they came across information that would make them recant.

      2. The Price is Wrong Bob*

        Yeah maybe because I am a systems person in my role, but I would seriously side-eye companies that did this and consider it an application hour wasted. It would tell me this company: a) doesn’t respect its users / customers enough to manage comms and data privacy well b) doesn’t respect employees’ professional boundaries c) is more attached to a sunk cost on a specific tool than an effective workflow with clear objectives (robots should serve you, employees should not serve robots) d) there is no one there empowered to tell them why this is bad e) they don’t understand how to assess engagement appropriately.

        I have filters on my phone to prevent it from being annoying when people spam me via text or calls. Plus, if I had a landline, I would want that as my phone number on applications because it’s guaranteed to be a clear connection and I won’t be caught unawares.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        Which, in this case… seems to be entirely true. OP, maybe I kinda don’t want you to fix this problem so that I can avoid this kind of technology adoring, clueless, company?

      4. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Meh, it depends how it’s explained. We use a system with suppliers at my company and some of the system-generated messages STINK and aren’t easy to understand but I have no choice but to conduct business through the system because of regulatory reasons. If I’m going to send something to a supplier through the system when I know the generated message will stink, I send them a head’s up email so they know what to expect. So OP could make it clear that they aren’t being led on by sending an email along the lines of:

        “Hi Candidate, we’ve received your application and want to (ask you some clarifying questions, schedule an interview, whatever). Property Name You Applied To uses an application system for this process, and you’ll receive a text message saying ‘(whatever the text says).’ Thank you for your interest in Property Name You Applied To”

    6. Loraine*

      Heh, when my employer tested it their new emergency response system many many people immediately reported it as a phishing attempt (it very much looked like one). So now they send and email to notify us to be on the lookout for the emergency test email and please participate.
      I hope they never intend to use that thing for real, because it still looks like a phishing attack. And it of course it also sends a text message, which I’m only okay with because it goes to the company phone not my private one.

      1. Self Employed*

        I hate the county’s emergency response system–the emergency tone is the same whether it’s an approaching wildfire, a flood, or a lost granny on the other side of the county. (I have opted out of the “Silver/Amber” alerts because I’m sheltering in place and I’m sure the lost person is not in my apartment.)

    7. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yeah- thinking about my last job hunts, if I were one of your candidates I would probably be understanding if I was told during a screening call that you use an automated system, and to please respond to a text I’ll receive in a few minutes. I understand the need to work around clunky systems sometimes, even though I would probably make fun of your company or complain privately about it later (especially if I also had to email you a new copy of my resume- I’d still do it though, as long as the job and hiring manager sounded good, because so many companies have terrible hiring software).

  3. Mental Lentil*

    If a company reached out to me with this kind of recruiting, it would be a huge red flag for me. What other odd/quirky/weird systems do they have in place that I’ll have to navigate to get my job done.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes unfortunately this is giving candidates a lot of very useful information about how head-in-the-sand and blindly in love with weird dumb strategies your company is… And plenty of those who are more in tune to it will self-select out even if they don’t think that initial text is spam.

    2. JokeyJules*

      I’ve applied for quite a few jobs, every single one that reached out via text turned out to be a scam company or at minimum somewhere i absolutely would not work. anytime a company reaches out initially via text i ignore them and usually block the number

      1. aurora borealis*

        In the past week I’ve received 2 scam texts asking to set up interviews. I would no doubt delete another one coming in and never assume it was from a legit company.

    3. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      In this regard it is producing results: the qualified people say no quicker.

      1. PT*

        Correct, it is filtering out the qualified people and ensuring that the candidate pool has the most desperate, and therefore the most compliant, applicants.

        1. Worldwalker*

          And the employer is mistaking desperation for competence. They are rarely found in the same person.

  4. Anon for this*

    Allison, as someone who educates our workforce about security and malware and identity theft, I have to add to your list another, very important problem.

    Even if they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they’re applying to work for Company X, this message, out of the blue, screams phishing attempt. This process is weeding out anyone who is at all savvy about security and not falling for scams.

    1. Anon for this*

      As in I actively tell people who work for our company that if they get messages like this, block block block.

    2. Antilles*

      Nothing like intentionally screening your workforce for people willing to click mysterious links and provide personal information. No way that’s going to bite your company firmly in the ass in the future, definitely not, no sir.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      My company actively sends messages like this, so that they can identify people who need to go to remedial anti-phish training. Just got one today, in fact – and no I didn’t click it.

      Also, why in the sweet bowels of IT hell are they paying real live people to send off what sounds like a 100% canned text message that should 1000% be a check-box somewhere in the recruiting platform, or if not, a five-line script on a server somewhere. But that’s its own bag of yikes.

      1. Captain Raymond Holt*

        Yes! I’ve sent automated phish tests to my company and received them at multiple jobs. They are a key part of user education strategies for improving information security.

      2. Worldwalker*

        I once did that as a forum post on a forum I was moderating, where the link went to a website with the domain name All I had up on that site was a single page that said something like “despite having repeatedly been told not to, you just clicked a link to a site literally named gimmeavirus.”

        One of the reasons I eventually quit volunteering there was my face was getting bruised and my palm was getting worn out.

    4. GothicBee*

      Yeah, I feel like this ticks all the boxes for the exact kind of stuff our IT department is always telling us to avoid. If I got this kind of text, I’d probably be worried I fell for a fake job ad. Which also makes me wonder what the job ad/application process looks like in the first place.

    5. Paris Geller*

      Yup. I would definitely think this is a phishing attempt and block the number. I’m guessing this approach is weeding out your most savvy candidates!

  5. AndersonDarling*

    Um, why does the OP even need to be involved? The whole hiring process is cold and inhuman. If the company doesn’t care about professional interactions with prospective employees, then just set up an automated texting system to send the texts and reply with automated responses. They can get through the whole hiring process with a few “Reply ‘Yes’ if you agree with this statement…” prompts.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        That’s what I’m kind of worried about. This could be stage one of eliminating all humans in the hiring process.

  6. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

    I’d be one the candidates you never heard back from. I don’t accept or read texts from numbers that aren’t in my contacts.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I second this. When my last android phone died I picked up a cheap flip phone. If you send me a text and I actually know you then I reply with short little answers or call you back. If I don’t know who its from I delete it. If you need to contact me in a print form that’s what emails are for.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I would do absolutely the same thing if I got this message. (Granted, if I got a phone call or an email first telling me this was happening, I might respond, but as a cold text? Block number, delete message.)

    2. NotJane*

      Yup, me too. Especially if the text comes from a number with some random, out of state area code, which seems to be the case with a lot of these automated text programs (although it’s not clear if OP is using one of them).

      This isn’t an perfect analogy, but this post reminded me of the time a few years ago when I ordered this shelving unit, I guess you’d call it, online from company ABC. The shelves were for my entryway and were that style with a metal frame and rustic looking wood shelves – in other words, neither particularly large nor heavy – yet were shipped via UPS freight, which was not made clear during checkout, but whatever. Except that when UPS contacted me to schedule the delivery, they said it was coming from company XYZ – basically some random LLC I had never heard of – so I ignored the message (I assume the shelves were eventually returned to sender). Come to find out, after some sleuthing, that XYZ is the parent company of ABC, but by that time I had already ordered different shelves from a different company.

      It’s a shame, though, because I really liked those first shelves, and I probably would have ordered more stuff from ABC, had they operated in the way we’ve all grown accustomed to when shopping online. Kinda like how OP’s employer has likely missed out on the opportunity to interview/hire some great applicants by using this newfangled system of their’s.

      In other words, if a company insists on trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s really in its best interest to make that abundantly clear from the get go.

  7. EMW*

    My current company had a texting system as part of their recruiting process. It was horrible. At one point I got an urgent text from the hiring manager, who I knew, saying the recruiting team said I was holding up the interview process! I called the recruiter and emailed them screen shots of these stupid text messages I was getting from their system. The links were broken, and since I got the text after talking to someone in person, I assumed I could ignore the texts asking me if I was eligible to work in the US, which the application system had already asked me.

    They felt very spammy. I hate phone calls, but texting is not the way to go for recruiting for professional positions at least.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Which points to another issue – I don’t have a smart phone. I can’t follow links in texts I receive on my phone.

  8. Lucia Pacciola*

    That all just sounds like a clown car of fail. I’d be looking for an entirely different circus, and an entirely different group of monkeys.

  9. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    Any text message from a strange number is immediately suspicious. Then, it asks me about a company that I technically haven’t applied to (in my brain) wants to connect? I’d assume it was a spam or a phishing text.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      And that message wording is like SPAM 101. No way would I think it was legit even if it mentioned the actual company I thought I applied to.

  10. halfwolf*

    speaking as someone who was applying for jobs a few months ago, and who also grew up texting, i got a few text requests for interviews, and i assumed all of them were spam. i’m actually pretty sure they were, but even if they weren’t, i didn’t want to work somewhere that contacted candidates like that. if i got a text that said “Company X is trying to send you a message. Do you accept?” my answer would be no, this is clearly spam, you can’t trick me into providing my SSN that easily.

    1. PT*

      I applied to a few temp agencies a few years back, and two of them were really into the spamming.

      I submitted a resume for office work, and I’ve spent the last year or two getting text messages with links, emails telling me they’ve already set up my interview for jobs I never applied for (and would have never applied for, like jobs I physically cannot do heavy lifting, CDL, etc.,) voicemails from sales telemarketers that turned out to be from them hiring (not sales looking for customers,) messages from gig companies like Uber/Lyft/DoorDash that were actually from the temp agency, etc.

      It was just really bizarre.

    2. OP*

      Thanks for your response! Thankfully, the program will never ask for things like a candidate’s SSN. And we can tell if the text request was declined. It says something like, “The candidate has declined your text request. Please contact the candidate using alternate communication.” Don’t quote me on the exact wording, though—I’ve only ever had one person decline the text request (most either blow it off entirely or accept it out of curiosity and then blow it off) and it was at least six months ago.

      1. Nanani*

        Well of course, people who think it’s spam are going to delete it without clicking “decline”.

    3. Brooklyn*

      I was recently on the job hunt and ended up in the systems of a number of recruiters and, at least in tech, they seem to just be bored and trying to “innovate” for no real reason. I clearly worked with one that used this software or something like it – recruiter would send an email then text to “make sure I saw it” within a half hour.

      But I do reply to all unknown numbers with my social security number, just in case.

  11. Archaeopteryx*

    Even setting aside the fact that the system is clearly designed more to keep tabs on your quantity of work, rather than to generate any kind of quality (and is actively diminishing the quality of your work) – – Your could also just track emails! It’s not like texts are more trackable than emails, and they also don’t generate a bunch of phone bill charges. Redonkulous.

  12. CatCat*

    Sounds maddening for all actually involved in a recruitment. Though I don’t see it getting changed if, in spite of this poor quality system, good quality candidates are still getting hired.

    1. Anon for this*

      You might consider them good quality, but I suspect that I would consider them exceptionally bad quality. It’s really interesting how otherwise competent someone can appear to be, while still falling for every little “your mailbox is full click here” I send them. If you get lucky, they could work for you for years and you won’t notice a thing. Or you could get unlucky, and they could cost you hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars.

      1. Self Employed*

        Maybe they clicked on the wrong option that cost some bank billions of dollars repaying a loan in full instead of making the current payment?

  13. Llama Llama*

    Everything about this system is bad. Also I have a regularly use a land line because I live somewhere with bad cell service (yes, I have tried using text/call over wifi, no it is not available to me). I wouldn’t even be able to see the text messages until I went somewhere with better service.

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      I was thinking about this – I know people in similar situations to you, others who just prefer landlines, and my aunt’s phone screen is currently broken so she can’t read texts (yes – she needs a new phone…working on it)

    2. Colette*

      I have a “land” line (which is actually voice over IP), which is usually the number I give out. It will email me any texts I receive to that number, but I can’t easily reply.

  14. Elliott*

    That system sounds like a mess! I would be really confused if I got a text like that. I also don’t think I’d like communicating about a job via text. I’m a millennial, but I don’t like using texting for important things like that. It’s too easy to have an embarrassing autocorrect mistake, tap the wrong button, misread tone, leave out important info, etc. I feel like email gives you a lot more space to communicate clearly and professionally.

    I’m also curious if the application makes it clear that you need to input a cell phone number. These days, I think most people will use a cell number as their primary contact, but there are still people, especially older candidates, who may use a landline number.

    If you can’t change the system, can you customize what the text says to make it clearer who it’s from? Or can you include something in the job posting to give people a heads up that they’ll receive a text? Since it sounds like this goes out to every candidate regardless of whether they’re selected to move forward, can you independently follow up with the people you want to interview via email or phone call regardless of whether they responded to the text?

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Yes! “Please provide a cell number that can receive SMS confirmation of your submission. This confirmation will come from X parent company”.
      And i wonder if the program is noting that texts are subject to charges, etc.

    2. Elliott*

      Also, when I was job hunting, I got a lot of calls from insurance companies I didn’t recognize who were claiming to be responding to my job application (when I’d never applied with them), so if I got a message from company X and didn’t recognize the name, I’d probably think it was something like that and it was someone trying to trick me into interviewing for a commission-based sales job.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        The last time I was on the market, I was unemployed and had made the VERY stupid decision to give the Obamacare website my real phone number. I got several unsolicited contacts per day from fly-by-night insurance companies – it took nearly a year to trickle down. You can imagine what my level of enthusiasm would have been for yet another random text from yet another random company that had lodged itself in my spam filters.

    3. Snailing*

      Yeah, I feel like this is a great example of disparate impact in hiring – texting the initial candidate is likely to disproportionately screen out candidates who don’t have a cell phone (maybe lower economic status), older candidates who are less comfortable with cell phones, disabled/older candidates who find it harder to type on a cell phone, etc. etc. Just feels like a bad idea all around…

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yep. All of this. It is a highly discriminatory system. I hope Alison adds your point to her list above.

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        Second ageism alert today. “Older” (whatever that means) people are just as comfortable with cell phones as everybody else. Please stop with the stereotypes. Source: 65 year old self and all the “older” people I know who have some of the fanciest phones available, and no land lines.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          In Canada, especially Eastern Canada (Quebec plus Atlantic provinces), many, many 65-year-olds are not comfortable with cell phones, and will use their landline number for almost all purposes even if they also have a cell for emergencies. Some 60-year-olds or even 50-somethings too.. These represent only a very small percentage of people still in the workforce, but you simply can’t assume that a phone number on a resume is a cell.

          If you’re going to communicate by text, say in the job posting that the phone number must be a cell. Better yet, communicate with candidates via email, not text.

        2. Loraine*

          Looking at my parents, they are more comfortable with text messages than email, because that’s what they used on their old dinky mobile phones for the last two decades. Whereas email is computer stuff and computer stuff is scary, what if they hit the wrong button and break the smartphone.

          1. Anon in Canada*

            In Canada, the notion of seniors having a smartphone and being fully comfortable with it, including text and using it for all calls… while being “scared of computers”, would be laughable. If they have a computer, maybe they’ll have a smartphone or maybe not. But virtually no one would have skipped over the computer and gone directly to smartphone.

            I know that Western Europe and the US made the switch to from landlines to cell phones much earlier, but in vast swaths of Canada, that switch didn’t happen until well into the 2010s – so it makes sense that not every older person has made the switch, and that computers came well before cell phones for the vast majority.

      3. Dino*

        You’re excluding deaf and hard of hearing applicants almost entirely. Videophones have a separate number to connect to the video relay service (so the call can be interpreted) and can’t accept texts. They’ll usually have a text and data-only cell phone plan. So if the application doesn’t have the option to leave two phone numbers or doesn’t say that you’ll use text, you’re ruling out deaf and hard of hearing applicants at the very jump.

    4. OP*

      Thanks for your response! Yes, I can customize the messages I send to candidates. However, I don’t have any control over what that initial text request says. And, unfortunately, the text request is where we lose people.

      And you’re right, the texts go out to just about everybody. My company’s huge on talking to everybody…which, in my opinion, is a waste of resources.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        “Talking to everybody” would be a good thing for your company to try.

        As it is, they screen out half your applicants for being reasonably cautious about their own security.

        But you already know that.

        Good luck.

      2. serenity*

        Am I correct that “texts go out to just about everybody” means you send these interview requests by text (which as you say are routinely ignored) to *all* applicants? There’s just no screening of candidates at all?

        There are about 17 layers of bad in this system and I don’t even know where to begin.

        1. Shaniqua*

          I was recently job searching and had recruiters text me without even stating what company they’re from. I ignored them, but was surprised they reached out through text when they had my email. Might be becoming more common to spam candidates that way, if whoever in charge thinks it’s faster.

      3. Certaintroublemaker*

        At the very least, the original job posting should say, “Llama Groomers, apply for an opening at Company Y, a subsidiary of Company X.” But that doesn’t deal with the issues of those who have landlines or otherwise restricted phone usage, and your inability to see resumes.

  15. AKchic*

    I get spam texts multiple times a day. I delete and/or block the numbers depending on how many times I’ve received that particular kind of spam (and from that number). This would irritate me, job searching or not. I wouldn’t even think of a verifiable, reputable company trying to text me. It’s just not something I’m used to.

    1. Somebody*

      I also get a lot of spam texts and I’ve blocked probably hundreds of numbers by now. I would assume it was spam and block them.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I told my car dealership I’d switch car companies if they didn’t stop sending me texts for reasons other than “your vehicle is ready to be picked up.”
      They figured it out.

    3. PT*

      CVS: We have on record that you take one prescription. People who take one prescription really should take two prescriptions, because their prescription bottle might get lonely in the cabinet. You may like [other drug]. Would you like us to call your doctor and tell them to give you a prescription for [other drug] so your prescription isn’t sad and lonely?

  16. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    OP, can you assemble this feedback into a document and copy it to all relevant parties and lead by saying, “Has anyone else been experiencing the following problems? I’ve gotten reports from candidates that the text feature is not widely functional or recognized”.

    It sounds like OP’s company or perhaps that HR person who loves the program spent a fortune on the service and has to justify the investment (this happened at my former company). Maybe compliment other parts but say the text aspect has got to go.

    To what Alison said about landlines, there is a socioeconomic aspect at play. I know families who share one cell phone because of costs. Some pre-paid services will charge people for incoming texts too.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for your response! I’m definitely open to sending some of my feedback to our corporate team. Although I’ve been with the company for a couple of years and have a good rapport with the corporate team, I was a little worried I might be only one who doesn’t like the program…but that’s clearly not the case.

      And I totally agree on the socioeconomic impact! Without giving away my industry, I will say that many of my hires don’t have a lot of money. So, I have had a lot of guilt when sending these messages.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        It is wonderful to know someone cares about the small expenses others take for granted. Making ways around them effectively pulls down barriers and gives people the crucial chance they need to gain employment. Thank you!!

        1. Self Employed*

          Yes, thank you.

          Until the start of this year, I had a “pay for what you use” cell plan that would charge for texts–not individually but the first 100 were $3, then a few bucks more for 101-250 etc. So it would be really annoying if I had about 90 texts near the end of the month and then one of my friends would send me e.e. cummings style texts

          with a few words
          in each
          separate text so I’d be charged
          a new SMS message
          for each

          I don’t know if it was an artifact of text to speech or what, but it would always tip my bill over into the next bracket (and he was annoying too).

  17. Persephone Mulberry*

    “Do you consent to receiving text messages from Company X” should be asked…BEFORE you text someone, no?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It’s incredibly ridiculous! If someone is paying per text, then the “Do you consent…” text already cost them money!

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Yup! I was on a plan at one point that charged FIFTY cents a message. And it was often more expensive when roaming. Not everyone is on an unlimited plan, and those are few and far between in most countries outside of the States.

    2. Worldwalker*

      “May I ask a question?”

      “One per day. You just used today’s. Ask tomorrow.”

  18. Noncompliance Officer*

    On slightly related topic, what is the best way to contact job applicants these days? I know a lot of people don’t actively check email anymore. Many people (me included) don’t tend to answer phone calls from numbers they don’t know. The texts in this post read a lot like spam and might get ignored to.

    For example, our current process is to email a set of questions to applicants if they screen in. Only people who respond to the email would get call for an interview. We lose a lot of applicants during this step. While I would think people who have applied for a job are on the lookout for calls or emails from employers, I think we are probably losing some good applicants by relying so much on email.

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Anyone actively job hunting is going to be checking their email regularly I would think?

      1. Snailing*

        Yep, if I’m applying to jobs (or expecting anything else important – most recently a vaccine appointment slot!), I actively check my email more frequently.

        I wonder, too – depending on the size of your business, availability of resources, amount of recruiters etc. – have businesses tried putting an option on the application for primary contact method and it could be tailored that way.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I always use email to contact candidates and people are very responsive. I wonder if you’re losing people not because you’re emailing but because you’re asking them to answer a slew of questions before they’ve had a chance to talk to you. If those questions take two minutes, maybe not, but if they require to people to write mini-essays, that could be why!

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Absolutely! I’ve been desperate for jobs but have closed applications because I could spend the same amount of time applying to four other similar companies as for some asking everything already on my resume. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good candidate for you, it means I still am looking for someone who respects my time.

        1. MassMatt*

          Yes, a loud “boo!” to any system requiring I re-enter info already on my resume. It’s 2021, if your system cannot handle basic date transferring then just scrap it and do your hiring with a rotary phone and pad of paper.

          Several years ago when I was looking there was at least one employer whose system not only required typing in past jobs, exact dates had to be entered, and there could be no gaps. i.e. if you had weeks between jobs you had to enter “unemployed” over and over again. I had a solid work history but this system made me look like a job-hopping slacker.

          1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

            That is absolutely horrible! I still see these dates requirements but not slamming anyone for gaps though thankfully. What’s the point of a resume at all then?

    3. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Also, do you let applicants know you are emailing them? If something goes to spam, they wouldn’t know to check!

      1. MassMatt*

        What, call them to let them know you’re sending an email? Where does this cycle end? If you’re looking for a job it’s on you to be reachable.

        1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

          No, I mean in the job ad or on the application page. “To complete an application, you will need to respond to questions sent via email” (which already sounds cumbersome)

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve spoken to about 20 recruiters in the last year and they all contacted me by email. Some conversations started in the Linkedin messenger chat, but I get email notifications if a message has been sent.

    5. Nanani*

      Email is probably the best way to go. If you’re losing a lot of people, maybe something in your emails is getting it flagged by spam filters?

    6. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’m not actively job searching, but if I was I’d be checking my email regularly. I don’t answer phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but if they leave a voicemail that is legit (meaning “Hi Clever, this is Noncompliance from Company X. Please call me back at 867-5309 so we can schedule you for an initial phone screen at a later date.” vs “Please call me back at 867-5309”) then I’ll respond.

    7. bluephone*

      I have my email open all the time and will notice something right away. But if I’m applying for a job and I have to jump through extra hoops like this, then I’m probably binning your message. So I think you’re losing candidates because you’re throwing too many unnecessary steps at them, not because of an email-versus-text thing.

    8. Starbuck*

      ” our current process is to email a set of questions to applicants if they screen in.”

      I think that’s your problem. How many questions? How long do they take? Are they questions that could be answered by re-reading the cover letter or resume?

    9. Cat Tree*

      People don’t check email? I get a notification on my phone with the subject line. And I don’t actually go in and read most of them, but I’m at least aware.

    10. Noncompliance Officer*

      The email is five questions. Four of them can be answered in one sentence and one requires maybe a paragraph. Typically we are hiring people in their 20’s and from what I’ve gathered, email is just that they thing get spam in. It is not a vital mode of online communication for them.

      1. AutolycusinExile*

        I mean, it might depend on your industry, but I have a feeling it might be less email-specific and more that you’re hiring people in their 20s – young, and early in their careers. That demographic is a) not going to have as much experience with professional norms or expected turnaround times in business communication and b) their youth may skew your applicant pool towards people who are less mature, balancing other priorities like school, or are otherwise less responsive. If I look at my early-20-something classmates and coworkers, a good number of them are more responsive by email than other methods. The ones who are unresponsive by email are usually equally unresponsive any other way too – it’s less an indictment of their emailing and more an indictment of their maturity, and you honestly might be better off letting them screen themselves out of the process this way!

        That being said, do you happen to have statistics on response rates for other methods of communication? I’d be curious to see whether an initial phone screen/voicemail actually yields better results, but if it does then it might just be the better option for your particular industry culture.

        Also, this isn’t exactly what you asked for help with, but in case you find the suggestion useful… I wonder if you might feel less like your time is being wasted if you asked these questions up front. Is it possible to just add them to the job listing? i.e. “To apply, please email your resume and cover letter to [email], and include an additional document with answers to the following questions:” or something similar. That would let you know up front who in the applicant pool will follow the instructions.

        1. Self Employed*

          I like your suggestion with the instructions in the job listing.

          I check my email a lot (and would definitely be checking it if I were applying for jobs, trade shows, etc.) but if I weren’t sheltering in place and I got an email via smartphone containing several short-answer questions, I would be less than thrilled to need to type job-application-stuff on a phone screen to respond promptly.

          Also, this week I have had four phone screens for a 1-day freelance gig. Monday they woke me up and then said I didn’t qualify. Tuesday, I was in line at the junkyard buying a hood for my car and they called to say I qualified after all. After 20 minutes of questions, they discovered they’d need to call me back at home to test my computer speed anyhow. In the meantime, 10 people got in line in front of me (and I’d been next in line when my phone rang). Then they called back while I was in line for public comment at City Council via Zoom. They called during a Zoom meeting tonight too. At least I got the gig.

      2. Nanani*

        Yeah that’s too much when they haven’t got a chance to ask -you- questions in return.
        Anyone who applied as a”Well maybe I’ll give this place a shot” is going to nope out.

        Schedule a proper conversation – interview or phone screen or chat or whatever. It’s not the medium, it’s the message. The message of “jump through a few more hoops before we can even have a conversation” is the issue.

    11. Loredena Frisealach*

      I prefer email, and I have an email address specifically for job hunting (important, because I’d never see it in my personal email!) For the actual interview it is best to ask, but I’d suggest defaulting either to calling a cell, or setting up a Teams or other dial in to call. It’s not uncommon for someone to be taking it elsewhere then home (my sibling took an interview from a hotel room while on vacation for instance).

  19. Person from the Resume*

    While I’d be happy to get a clear and not misleading text message about an application, I’d assume any company of I’ve never heard of contacting me about a job was spam.

    This is a horrible process for many reasons, but terrible, misleading text message that only generates a 50% response by people who applied to for a job may be the worst part. You have facts to back up there’s a problem.

  20. Todd*

    I once had an interview at a real estate agency that was something like this.

    They would text me duplicate information, schedule phone interviews and then ghost and act confused why my appointment wasn’t in the system.

    When I finally made it to the zoom interview with the CEO, he gave an hour plus demonstration about how incredible their system is. “Text, call, schedule appointments all from the same page! Its the future of real estate!”

    I didn’t have the heart to tell him why I declined the offer.

  21. Anon For the Comment*

    I’m an elder millennial that works in a field that is…not the standard when it comes to the hiring process.

    I’ve had several start ups in my field pull my contact details from my liability insurance and send me GROUP text messages without my consent, as well as sending texts for job offers I didn’t apply for. I’ve always replied with something along the lines of “if you are a legitimate business contacting someone for a job over text is incredibly unprofessional. If I receive further correspondence from this number I will be in contact with the FCC.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels this is so unprofessional.

    1. oranges*

      I’m an elder millennial too, and I don’t use my text messages like this. Texting is for my personal life and for doctors to confirm appointments because I can’t remember anything. I don’t do work via text. (Other than to occasionally text a cow0rker as a last resort if I need to talk to them ASAP and they’re not answering.)

      1. Kimmybear*

        Yup. Young Gen X here and feel the same. Colleagues can get me in Teams/Slack/email. If you text me, it better be urgent.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I think the texting part is less bad than the group message part or the unsolicited part. You might have more traction by pointing out those problems instead. I would be just as mad to receive a group email with the same content.

  22. KWu*

    This feels like one of those enterprise software systems that’s sold to higher ups who don’t actually do the job that this software is supposed to help with, to give the appearance of being modern and forward-thinking…without checking whether it actually works for the intended purpose. What is it that the head of corporate talent development loves about this??

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Yup! The old HR manager at my last firm had to justify the $20K per year for their BS applicant tracking system. It was so dysfunctional that I and the other recruiter just used free cloud software to do what that program claimed to do in less than half the time.

  23. Dust Bunny*

    If a company started off by trying to text me my first inclination would be to think it was phishing and ignore/block it.

    Even if I knew it was real, I would find it intrusive and be weirded out. I’m not sure why it bugs me more than a phone call or email, but it does.

  24. Laura H.*

    The idea of receiving a text as a first contact from a potential employer kinda squicks me out for two reasons.

    1. I’m all for norms changing, but for now phone calls and email are still the usual methods. The adherence to norms and the inability to do so goes both ways.

    2. It feels a little too informal or like a step in the relationship has been skipped.

    And that doesn’t entertain the idea of all the security measures, or “looks phishy” concerns that have been brought up.

    1. Laura H.*

      I should have said the dangers of a perceived inability to adhere to the norms in point 2

      My kingdom for an edit button.

  25. Not a Morning Person*

    And although almost everyone is comfortable with texting these days…almost…it could have an affect on some of the less-technical or less adept applicants. Personally, I’d be put off if my first response to an application was a text. I would think it was spam and immediately block it

    1. Worldwalker*

      Also the *more* technical and security-conscious applicants. If I got a text like that, I’d block the number. If I found out later it came from somewhere I’d applied, I’d withdraw my application. As someone said a while back, that’s got more red flags than a Soviet military parade. That company is fifty pounds of fail in a twenty pound sack.

  26. Llellayena*

    So many levels of crazy. But one work-around option would be to make your initial contact by phone and state on the call that they will be receiving a text from Company X to confirm your application with Company Y. Then send the text to get the company off your back.

    Also, what “relevant” information is it extracting from the resumes? Sometimes removing identifying info (like names and locations) can be helpful if you are actively trying to combat bias. But if they’re removing info like accomplishments or cover letters it is actively harming your ability to make a fair evaluation. I’d try to push on that.

    BTW, I’m thinking the 2 hr response time is a typo. Later in the letter they talk about 24 hours before getting yelled at.

    1. Daniel*

      I don’t think so. OP wrote out “two hours” in words but “24 hours” in digits.

      But even if it were 24 hours, that’s still way too short for ordinary jobs. Responding multiple days later is just so standard. And I’m really, really hoping that the two hour window only applies during business hours, because I am having a good day and I don’t want to spoil it by having my head explode.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I did that! I copyedit letters so they all adhere to the site style guide … so “24hrs” becomes “24 hours,” but in this case I appear to have removed the 4 … and then I spell out numerals under 10 so we ended up with “two hours.” I fixed it in the post.

    2. OP*

      Thanks for your reply! You’re right, the timeframe is 24hrs.

      As for the applications, I totally agree with you—removing names and locations is a great way to avoid unconscious bias—but our company leaves all that in. All we really see are their previous jobs (but sometimes we don’t even get them all), if they have a reliable means of transportation, if they’re authorized to work in the United States, and if they meet the age requirement for our industry. Anything that may have made them stand out is gone, unfortunately.

      1. bluephone*

        Hah hah hah what. I’m sorry but what. Your higher ups have come up with an ingenious way to actively sabotage your work, OP :-(
        Sweet Jesus, I couldn’t think up a more backwards system if I spent the day high as a kite.

  27. Malarkey01*

    I could MAYBE see the benefit of a text that says We’ve received your application for x position at Y company. Someone will contact you via this number within a week if you’re moved to the interview stage.
    That would avoid all those questions you have when you submit like did my application go through, when will I hear back, and confirm that it’s a good number. And since some hourly workers may not have reliable email they check this could help. But STILL- so bad.

    What do you do if they accept the text? Does every application get an interview? It’s weird to text in 2 hours and then nothing?

  28. Elenna*

    In OP’s company’s slight defense, the letter says “Instead, the program pulls out all of the “relevant” information [from the resume] and dumps it into a very basic file.” So it’s not really clear to me that OP is actually missing any information from the resume. Heck, if done well, this could theoretically be a way to strip out information about race and other protected characteristics that might be implied by a name or whatever on a resume.

    That being said, everything else about this hiring process is weird and terrible and implemented poorly, which makes me think that the “stripping information from the resume” process is likely to also be weird and terrible and implemented poorly.

    (Also, what about people like me who use a VoIP number? I can receive texts, but I can’t actually reply to them. I suppose I could always call back the number that the text came from, but that’s awkward and weird enough that I would most likely not do it, especially given the confusing company name.)

    1. Colette*

      The big issue with that is … who decides what is relevant? This sounds like keyword matching, which isn’t likely to be terribly accurate. It’s also not clear whether it keeps the information associated with the company and dates it was associated with.

      1. Elenna*

        Yeah, that’s basically what I meant by “if done well” – the process of stripping information has to be implemented properly, which is difficult, and given the rest of this process I’m highly skeptical that OP’s company is actually doing it well.

        1. Colette*

          As someone who has spent my career in and around software development, this is the kind of thing that just isn’t easy to do well. There is too much variability in resumes – too many formats, too many ways to write a date, multiple words to use to say the same thing, etc. If they forced users to use an online application, it would be better, but still not foolproof.

      2. Elliott*

        That’s what I was thinking. I think there’s value in stripping out identifying information like names in order to avoid bias, but usually that can be accomplished by redacting the header information. It sounds like the program isn’t catching all the relevant info.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was thinking that as well, that the system could be preventing discrimination. But if communication can only take place through text, then the whole process is discriminating against people who cannot afford a phone with a data/text plan. And it also excludes people who choose not to have a phone with a text/data plan.

      1. Self Employed*

        Or people who have poor coverage where they live, or who work in a building with poor signal.

    3. Antilles*

      Even your slight defense seems shaky to me. If it works well, then sure, it’s possible that it truly does simplify things…but given how many bugs and issues we see in programs, I’m seriously doubtful. Here’s just two potential issues that I thought of:
      1.) With all the various resume formats, different ways of writing things, etc, the program likely misses things a lot – the program parses graduation dates by looking for text in the numerical format of MM/YY-MM/YY but when someone instead writes it out as “Jan.2014 to Oct.2018”, the program skips right over that.
      2.) This is one program rolled out company-wide, so I’m guessing it’s generic enough that what John Programmer at the headquarters of Company X decided was “relevant” may or may not reflect what’s actually “relevant” hiring for a subsidiary Company Y.

      1. Elenna*

        Yep, and OP confirmed above that it’s not even trying to do that, it’s just stripping out actual relevant information (for… some reason???). So yeah, nevermind, their hiring process just sucks.

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Tacking on to your comment about the VoIP phone: even if you call the number the text came from, there’s no guarantee that anyone is actually monitoring that number. It’s entirely possible for the number to be assigned to the automated system rather than a real phone. So while there might be a way to leave a message, or even a recording saying the line isn’t monitored, it might also just ring into infinity…

    5. SnappinTerrapin*

      I assumed they were trying to filter for implicit bias. I’ll give them a couple of points for the effort.

      Unfortunately, in the process, they also filter out a lot of candidates who recognize the odor of phish.

      Maybe they could go back to the drawing board after assessing their 50% metric on their initial contact attempt.

  29. Mental Lentil*

    I’d bet good money the person who bought this system is related to the person that owns the company that developed it.

    1. The Price is Wrong Bob*

      +1 this was also my thought, no way someone opts into this without a kickback or being really far removed from day-to-day work. Kind of like that new Utah rule they are trying to push about requiring morality filters on phones….some religiously-bent org with deep pockets no doubt has just the solution and knows their way around govt contracts for an insane amount of money…..

  30. Daniel*

    I’d say that the fact that your company is using text as a first contact is the LEAST of their problems:

    * The two-hour time frame is completely unrealistic,
    * Sending a text mentioning Company X when you’re hiring for company Y is a great way for a recipient to think that your company is blasting their resume in all directions, which is Not Cool,
    * Phone calls don’t count even though they are the best things for a first screening,
    * You have no way to see their resume (WTF??),
    * You’re only getting movement with people who want/can text anyway, which is an unreasonable thing to do for 99% of jobs, and most of all,
    * This whole system seems to be set up solely to track the amount of work that YOU do as opposed to track candidates, which is a crappy thing to do to you. And they don’t even use a good way of measuring your throughput. (No way to track calls or emails? C’mon.)

    Now, to answer the question in the headline…I think I would weirded out less than most people here for first contact to be a text, if the text were along the lines of, “Hi! I’m [name] from [company I applied to] and I was hoping to touch base with your application! Do you have a few minutes later to talk?” To me, that’s the same as getting an email with the same message. But to only use texting to get a track applications or get a hold of applicants is nuts.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for your reply! When I message candidates, I actually say almost word-for-word what you suggested. The only problem is that candidates have to respond to the “text request” before they can even view my message. It’s kind of the worst…

      1. 1234*

        In the system, is there a way to customize the “accept” message so that the first message they see is “This is Parent Company, who owns Company You Applied At. I want to discuss your application in more detail. Do you accept…”

        1. OP*

          Thanks for your question! I’m sure there’s a way to change this, but it’s not something I’m allowed to do—that part’s dictated by the corporate team.

  31. OP*

    First off, thank you for answering my question! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it’s weirdly inappropriate to text a candidate from the get-go. Personally, I’m all for a good ol’ fashioned phone call. I’ll answer/clarify a few points for you and your readers…

    No, we can’t see the candidates’ actual resume! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Oh, I thought I listed that on my resume. Did you not receive it?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked like a total idiot when asked that question.

    And we’re actually required to contact candidates within 24hrs, not 2hrs. The 24hr requirement has been relaxed a little bit due to COVID-19-related staffing issues. That said, our “level of engagement” is still being monitored.
    And it’s not just me who is “being checked on” by the corporate office. All of our properties (we’re located in roughly half of the 50 states) have to abide by these silly rules.

    As for how the system is accounting for landlines, I’m actually not too sure. That’s a great question! If a candidate doesn’t accept the text request for whatever reason, I’ll usually just call them from my direct line (because the program makes us use a ghost number) and have a one-on-one talk.

    And no, I do not conduct my interviews via text. If I had to, I’d probably pull my hair out.
    I’m actually open to pushing back on this. I’ve got a pretty good track record with the company and have pushed for small changes in both the corporate Risk Management and HR departments…and those changes were actually implemented company-wide!

    1. Daniel*

      Good luck in pushing back. And thank GOD that it’s 24 hours instead of two hours. (Hoping it’s only Monday-Friday?)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Agh, in changing “24hrs” to “hours,” I apparently changed the number attached to it. Good to know it’s not two hours, and I’ve corrected that in the post.

    3. meyer lemon*

      If no one listens to reason when you explain the very obvious problems with this system, there are larger problems at work. Any way you could talk to someone with more authority but who has enough hiring experience to understand why this system is so terrible? Although really, it should just be common sense.

      Failing that, is there any way you could just conduct a regular hiring process in tandem with the annoying text one, giving the candidates a heads up that they will receive automated texts that they can ignore?

      1. Münchner Kindl*

        THIS! The texting instead of email is (as so often with cases brought to Allison) just the start.

        The not-listening to feedback about this *and all the other problems* with this program is many red flags about bad management.

        I’d actually like to tell OP to stop softening or circumventing the message to job applicants – let them see the red flags that management at company X is bad at managing because they don’t know how to measure good work their staff does; because they don’t listen to feedback from their staff; because they care more about arbitrary numbers than about staff morale – so applicants with other options should not go forward at company X.

    4. XF1013*

      It is kind of astounding that your company managed to expand into 25 states with this kind of thinking at a high level.

      But maybe that partly explains it. Plenty of organizations grow so large and successful that they tolerate inefficiency well and don’t realize there’s a problem until the damage becomes too large to ignore.

      1. Antilles*

        Based on OP’s original description of Company X which owns a bunch of properties owned by various Company Y’s, it’s also possible that Company X just acquired a bunch of subsidiaries without being directly involved in the minutae of how the hiring process needs to work.
        I’m imagining a scenario where historically Company X let all their subsidiaries run free in the hiring process and do it however…then Company X got new leadership that wanted to standardize things (a reasonable idea, on its’ face) but didn’t do so in an effective way.

    5. Anon for this*

      Would you… like me to email Alison the link to the website for the third party phishing software vendor I use to test our employees? I use it to send people messages exactly the ones you describe, for benevolently malicious purposes.

  32. Global Cat Herder*

    I ended up on short-term disability a couple years ago, and that was managed mostly by text, which was initially off putting. They did a lot though to set expectations and establish some trust in the system. Sent a “let’s make sure we have the right phone number” text and even suggested saving the sender in my contacts. Explained several times that “messages will always start with Insurance Company and always reference your case number 1234 and never ask for your SSN or password.” Even though I’m paranoid about phishing, it actually turned out to be a pretty nice system.

    Sounds like this company’s not done any of that. They’re just sending a random text out of the blue from a phone number that they haven’t bothered to establish as being legitimate, naming a company that they haven’t bothered to establish is legitimate, using wording that doesn’t instill any confidence that it’s legitimate. Everything about it SCREAMS spam/phishing.

    I’d be really leery of anyone who actually answers it, their judgment would be very questionable.

  33. learnedthehardway*

    This process is insane. Literally bonkers.

    If a process has 50% falloff from APPLICANTS to a role, there is something seriously wrong with it. You’d expect to have some falloff, but over 10% really means your process is just NOT working.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Other observations:
      – a requirement to get back to applicants THAT fast is not only unreasonable, but it’s not a good idea. A) you have other business priorities too. B) while applicants for hourly roles can turn over rapidly, 24-48 hours is a completely reasonable timeframe to contact someone.
      – not seeing a resume is ridiculous – it’s an important part of the screening process to see how people present their experience, and I’m sorry, but a computer program cannot interpret everything. I get that companies are trying to automate recruitment as much as possible, but this is at the expense of process quality.

  34. Ali G*

    This company must have a ton of turnover. Why would you ever need to contact every applicant within 2 hours? Is there zero screening going on? This just screams “this company thinks its employees are expendable” to me.

  35. NinaBee*

    Sounds like they’re confusing marketing and recruitment.. job applicants aren’t customers. Someone high up must have fallen for a great software sales pitch!

    1. Nanani*

      Yeah, the whole thing about “tracking engagement” sounds like social media marketing. But these are job applicants? You’re trying to hire people to do a job, not make people click an advert. What is even the point.

      1. NinaBee*

        Screams of ‘we don’t know what we’re doing’ (probably a nightmare client for any marketing agency too).

      2. Myrin*

        And they’re tracking OP and OP’s coworker’s level of engagement, not that of the job applicants, which seems even more bonkers to me.

  36. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    I’m currently seeking new jobs and sending out applications/resumes every week, and I would 100% ignore a text like this. I would assume my information had been stolen by the company and would be very very worried about identity theft. I would NEVER click a link or call a phone number provided by an unsolicited text – that’s cybersecurity 101! This is a terrible terrible system and I’m so sorry you’re stuck using it, because I can guarantee you’re not getting the best candidates with it. Even leaving out the whole part where you don’t see the resume (which, wtf), anyone with savvy and options is not going to respond to this text. Ugh this makes me so mad on your behalf and anyone who would want to work for this company but won’t get past this inane ATS.

  37. HR Madness*

    I know this is about texting from a system, but I regularly text hourly employees as my first point of contact with them as a recruiter. Now, I am doing it from a company cell and it’s very much a do you have time to talk type text (no links or anything). I also have a group where the level of comfortability with English varies a lot. A text is something they can translate and respond back to or text me back to let me know if they need translation for an interview. It has been incredibly helpful in this situation since I don’t always have an email to work with.

    Texting has it’s advantages in particular situations. It’s not my preferred way of communicating, but I meet my potential candidates where they are at :)

    1. SushiRoll*

      Yes I was going to say, OPs software and process sounds like madness, but my company also uses a texting system to reach out to hourly employees. A reasonable number of them only have a cellphone or maybe a cellphone and tablet but no reliable home computer and aren’t always reliably checking email and don’t always answer calls (lots of people, myself included, don’t anymore with so much spam). We only reach out to people who have applied and there is no ambiguity like in OPs case. Often use it to quickly move on scheduling interview days and stuff. Works quite well. Same deal as HR Madness as sometimes we are working with folks where ESL and we have had to assist with logging into emails and stuff before so this just makes it simpler.

      I also started texting our interns when I had to contact them to set up calls to talk about offers – they would NEVER answer their phones and half the time wouldn’t listen to voicemails. Text them though? Immediate answer!

      1. OP*

        Thanks for responding! When I first started recruiting/hiring, that’s exactly how I expected the program to work—that’s actually one of the reasons I was so excited to use it. If our company changed the text request prompt to be less ambiguous and allowed us go back to seeing candidates’ resumes, it would work much better, in my opinion.

  38. Nanani*

    I don’t think I’d exactly -mind- a text instead of an email, but I wouldn’t be expecting it (unless applicants are warned on the application site or something?) and odds are very high that I just wouldn’t see it in time, or my spam blocker would hide it entirely.

    The rest of it is ridiculous.
    Contact within 2 hours? What if an insomniac is filling out applications at 3 am?
    Can’t see resumes? WTF?!?!
    “Tracking engagement”??? Job applications aren’t social media advert revenue? What even!?!?!?!

  39. bluephone*

    Oh my god to all of this. I get cold calls/cold LinkedIn DMs from recruiters a lot and they tend to be the kind of spammy, just cast a wide net type of recruiter that wants quantity over quality. I feel like I just got a good peek into how/why those yahoos are doing their thing.
    I don’t want to pile on, OP, but yeah, your company’s tactics kind of suck. A lot. They’re definitely costing you good candidates (and even lousy ones). Even your company’s initial text sounds like spam–no wonder candidates are ignoring it. Is there some sort of business relationship between your company’s execs and the execs of this weirdo recruiting service? Because your leadership seems sooo into this very stupid process that I can’t imagine the reason is anything other than kickbacks galore.

  40. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I have a friend who has no cell phone – no budget for it and overall, in her life, no need for it.

    Anything requiring a text won’t work for her. Or for my father-in-law, for that matter, or even my own dad, who have basic cell phones and just do not text.

    In a weird way, it’s discriminatory by technology, money and possibly by age.

    It’s a terrible system.

    1. Thursdaysgeek*

      Right. I expect that landlines tend to be used by people who are older, in general. And so a text-only system will tend to eliminate more older people. Older than 40 is a protected class, so another issue is the OP is possibly helping discriminate in hiring, in a way that is illegal.

  41. Lacey*

    What. A. Nightmare.

    The intro text totally sounds like spam of some kind of phishing. Of course people ignore it.

    Also, I’ve done my fair share of interviews where I began to wonder if anyone had actually read my resume beforehand. It did lot leave a favorable impression.

    On the other hand, I think any company insisting on this type of hiring is probably a nightmare in other ways, so… I guess those applicants dodged a bullet.

  42. Alex*

    No way would I engage with this hiring system. WTF?

    I HATE getting texted by anyone but my close friends. I regularly decline to interact with businesses that text me. STOP TEXTING ME!

  43. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    Do the applicants consent to be texted when they apply? I actually like how many things can be confirmed via text these days (my hair salon/dentist/optometrist appointments, my food pick-up order, my jury duty status, etc.), but I usually have to check a box or agree up front to be texted, even when I have willingly given them my phone number. If the business would at least make that prominently known on the application system and allow people to opt out, it would be nice to get a short text setting up/confirming an appointment for instance, but I wouldn’t like a surprise text.

  44. Lyra Silvertongue*

    What a very strange policy. Honestly for something that is being framed as “mobile-friendly,” I feel as if your company is quite out of step with how people use cellphones nowadays. The phrasing of the question is so spammy, and combined with the fact that it may not even be coming from the name of a company I have applied to, it would be an instant delete for me. Also, I find texting quite a lot more personally invasive than emailing, especially when it’s just at the recruitment stage. Yes, of course we can all access our email on our phones and technically there’s not a huge difference, but my email is what I use for my work-facing written communication. If you have things to tell me via writing, do it by email. If you want to contact me immediately, call me on the phone. To see texting as “the future” makes you look incredibly dated as a company.

  45. OyHiOh*

    One of the “desperation” jobs I applied for last summer (inbound customer/technical services call center) did have an auto text thing built into their application.

    However, the ATS page explicitly said you’d get a text at the number entered, to confirm the phone number.
    Also, the text explicitly identified the company I’d applied for and the message explicitly said it was a confirmation of phone number. Once the text bot got a Yes response, it sent out a couple questions requiring very simple answers, that basically functioned to establish a time for a phone screen. It still felt a little weird, but not nearly as phishy as how OP describes their system!

  46. Squeeble*

    This company’s desire to be “mobile-friendly” doesn’t make sense, either, since calls and emails are just as mobile-friendly if you have a smartphone.

  47. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Is part of the drop-off due to your applicants not speaking English as their first language? That stilted phrasing would turn me off already, let alone the spam risks and other issues.

    1. OP*

      Thanks for your question! No, I don’t think that it has anything to do with there being a language barrier. If an application comes through in English, I responded with English. If an application comes through in Spanish, I respond with Spanish. In the two years I’ve been recruiting/hiring, I’ve only ever had one application come through in a language I didn’t know, so I reached out to the candidate differently.

  48. 1234*

    I have received texts regarding jobs from staffing agencies. I do not find it strange for the following reasons:

    1 – I opted in to receiving it. Is there a way to put towards the bottom of the application that responses to applications come via text from Parent Company? Something to alert candidates that they should expect a text in response?

    2 – More often than not, the person says “This is Jane with Staffing Agency. We have a job paying $X on Y date doing Tasks. If you’re interested, reply back with…” which really helps put things into context. I will also get texts that say something generic like “hi are you available on Monday?” from numbers I do not recognize and if I am available, I will ask for more details.

  49. LCH*

    are they also trying to hire executive level with this trash system? are people with 25 yrs experience putting up with this?

    1. OP*

      Thanks for your question! No, middle management and corporate positions are handled differently. I don’t do a whole lot of hiring for those roles, though, so it’s not something I can really speak to. I just know it’s a different process.

  50. pretzelgirl*

    I think the whole system is very strange. The tracking system, not being able to see the resume.

    I will say I am not totally and completely opposed to the texting thing. I may be the only one that feels this way lol! I call a lot of resumes (although I am not a recruiter) to set up interviews for my department. The people that tend to apply for our jobs tend to be in the younger range of 18-25. They are very difficult to get a hold via the phone and sometimes email. I am supposed to call candidates. They either don’t answer at all, or call back immediately. Which often times I have moved to calling the next person and then I have slew of people I have to call back. Then they don’t answer again, and we start all over. I would much rather text these people as I feel like the response would be much better.

    1. Cj*

      I wouldn’t be opposed to a text, but I would absolutely delete a text like the one the OP’s company sends (that appears to be from a company you didn’t apply to) as spam/fraud.

      1. Cj*

        It can also be discriminatory based on economics or age if you can’t afford/don’t use a smart phone, as somebody mentioned above.

    2. Pond*

      The reason for not picking up and then calling right back is that the vast majority of phone calls I (and I suspect many people, especially 18-25) receive are spam/scams. So, if you call and leave a legitimate voicemail, I’ll call you back. But I never answer the phone if I don’t know who is calling, even when expecting calls during a job search.
      Usually once I’ve made contact with someone I’ll add them into my contacts list and then pick up right when they call, but even so I often have my phone ringer off and so only see that someone called, and then call them back, anywhere between minutes and a couple days later depending on the circumstances.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        Yep, and in the last few years there’s been a huge uptick of scam calls spoofing numbers that have the same area code as yours in order to get your attention. So I’m even less likely to pick up an unknown number with my area code, which could make a difference if your candidates are local.

        1. Loredena Frisealach*

          I moved states and kept my number, so when I get those it’s easy to ignore – if it’s not my husband it is spam! It does mean truly local spam calls slip past me, but they are of course more likely to hit my house phone.

    3. Pond*

      In general I’m opposed to using texting for anything work related, but I would be open to receiving a voicemail and then text saying ‘let me know when is a good time to call’ or something along those lines. Just a text, however, I probably wouldn’t see, and if I did I would assume it was a scam and block the number (which means that I wouldn’t know if you then tried a normal phone call).

  51. Slinky*

    Frankly, I’m surprised your response rate is as high as 50%. If I received this message, I would definitely assume it was spam and block the number. Alison’s point about land lines is also important. During my last job search, I was using a land line as my primary number because I had a really sketchy cell signal in my apartment (and I’m a millennial, so I’m generally used to texting).

    1. Tuesday*

      Fifty percent sounded pretty high to me too. “Company X is trying to send you a message. Do you accept?” Especially when you’ve had no prior communications with Company X? No way. It would be nice if they could at least warn applicants that they might receive a text from Company X so that they’re ready for it and know it’s legit.

  52. ThatGirl*

    Funny timing on this… About an hour ago I got a phone call (which I didn’t answer, no voicemail), two emails and a text from a recruiter. I think I applied for something through them once years ago but have never actually gotten anywhere/gotten a job through them. All of that in five minutes without even giving me the chance to respond to one of them. (I also got an email from a different staffing agency about the same job 20 minutes later.)

    Anyway – I don’t want to text with recruiters! It feels too familiar and not nearly formal enough.

  53. RJ*

    Well, this explains the last call I had from the HR assistant at a prospective employer. She knew what my job tasks/accomplishments were at my last two jobs, but no idea what the jobs were or how long I had been at them. I was also asked how my school experience translated into the work culture. I graduated during the first Clinton administration. It did not go well.

  54. metronomic*

    In 2010 I applied for a job and my first point of contact from the org was an email from someone (who I later learned was a recruiter at the org) with a brief message like “please complete xyz at website link” that ended up being an online personality assessment (yeah, I know). The request had no context. I remember being concerned it was spam/phishing and reached out to confirm it was valid and that I should complete it.

    I ended up working there and eventually mentioned to HR how weird I found that that initial email. I think the recruiter was young and inexperienced, but the HR department should have had a template that was more like “Thank you for applying for XYZ position. Please complete Assessment by Date as the next step in your candidacy.”

  55. LizM*

    I would hate this.

    1. For me, resumes are one of the things I evaluate as a hiring manager. It’s my first opportunity to understand a candidate’s written communication skills. If they aren’t effective at conveying important details about their background, are they going to be effective at conveying important details to clients or leadership? A resume is so much more than the basic, stripped down version.

    2. I bristle at the idea that my hiring processes need to be so tightly micromanaged that I can’t be trusted to talk to a candidate, because everything I tell them has to be tracked and recorded.

    3. Personally, I’d be weirded out if I got a message like that, and would probably assume it was spam. I hate having a ton of extra steps to get a message. I barely tolerate it with my doctor’s office and bank. I understand why they have to use a secure messaging app, I just hate it with a burning passion. Just tell me what you want to tell me. On top of that, I find text messages very intrusive, in a way emails are not. If there has to be a written record, I’d much prefer an email as initial contact, followed up by a phone call.

  56. Annony*

    Is this a very low level position that a ton of people could easily fill? If so, then I guess I can see why this system works for them. If the goal is to get a butt into the chair as quickly as possible with the least engagement, this works. If experience and skill level actually matter, this approach is terrible and you will lose all the best candidates or fail to even identify them.

    1. Cj*

      You will also get employees that fall for phishing. The ones that don’t will have immediately deleted you text.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      My guess, since the OP describes these as hourly workers, franchised locations and multiple brands including at the same location, I think this might be food service — something like Yum! Brands, Inc. which owns KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc…

    3. LizM*

      Yup. The only way you can afford for 50% of your candidates to opt out is if you have way more candidates than you need.

  57. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    The only silver lining to me is that this system completely removes any chance I have to take seriously that the recruiting company is taking recruiting for the opening seriously.

  58. Felis alwayshungryis*

    It’s way too impersonal. If I’m thinking of changing jobs to come and work for you, farming your contact with me out to a computer program gets a NOPE.

    Text is great for, say, my vet (‘text c to confirm your appointment’) but dammit, not all things are right for all purposes.

  59. Jessica*

    GenX here. I am filing this whole thread under “heartwarming Millennial rage.” Proof that y’all are not just a bunch of texting fools, but have a clear and nuanced sense of what different communications methods should appropriately be used for. Right on!

  60. Lisa Babs*

    I agree that “texting job seekers before any other kind of correspondence just feels … unprofessional”. As a bandaid fix to this problem. Can you send a form email to the candidates before the text? Something like:
    Thank you for applying for a position at Y company. We utilize a mobile-friendly approach in our recruitment process. You will see a text that says “Company X is trying to send you a message. Do you accept?” That is from us at Y company (we are a franchised location of X). Please accept to receive future texts about your application.

    I think that simple step turns it from spam feeling and unprofessional to just a part of your recruitment process. And with it being cut and paste it shouldn’t take you that long to do. Even if this doesn’t count as a metric to the company I bet it will approve your engagement percentage (if that matters).

  61. Tuesday*

    I bet the number of applicants who find the process weird is higher than the number of people who are willing to say so when asked by their interviewer. They don’t want to risk coming across as criticizing the company or looking like a negative person who can’t adapt to new things.

  62. Ms Marple*

    I was job searching at the beginning of the year and two separate companies reached out to me via text to set up first round interviews. So I think this may be becoming more common. It never happened to me before then. I found it a little off putting, mostly because it’s uncommon and not particularly easier than email, but not a red flag in itself. (I accepted an offer from one of the companies which had an otherwise very smooth and straightforward hiring process.) I also recognized their names as places I had recently applied at. I would have been completely thrown off by getting a text from a different parent company and would probably assume it was spam. OP, if your company is uninterested in abandoning the text message approach, maybe you can push back so they at least let you identify yourself based on the company the candidate applied to or even both the parent company and applied to company. That may help with the low response rate.

  63. nnn*

    If I received a text like that, I’d assume it’s a scam.

    If I found myself talking to a recruiter who doesn’t seem to have access to my resume, I’d also assume it’s a scam.

    Also, if it’s very important to this company to have a strictly scripted message sent out within a specific turnaround time without regard for the human factor, autoresponders and scripts exist! There is no reason to have a human being manually sending out that message.

    (Sneaky option for OP: figure out a way to automate this portion of the process on your end and get a perfect engagement rating)

  64. Raldeme*

    Do you want people to think you are a tiny startup with tenuous notions of professionalism? Cuz that’s how you get people to think you are a tiny startup with tenuous notions of professionalism

  65. Agent Diane*

    One tactic when raising this with a manager who loves it (and is therefore emotionally invested) is to flag the system is costing the company. 50% of candidates you’d like to take to the next stage are dropping out, and some will never bother applying again. If you end up with unfilled vacancies then the process is costing you time and money to readvertise.

  66. HRLady*

    I believe that texting is a great option for an HRIS system, and is built into systems. The text feature should be an opt in for candidates. I personally only use this for quick questions, such as a question about references, or requesting a cover letter. However, other HR professionals also use it to schedule an interview. I would likely not use it for a long back and forth conversation.

    1. Jen*

      Agreed. I get a lot of spam calls and texts, this would read like a scam to me. Especially since the company they applied to isn’t on the texts.

  67. Loredena Frisealach*

    Aside from everything else, my iPhone defaults to grouping texts as known and unknown senders! I can’t tell you how often I’ve missed a valid text because the sender wasn’t in my contacts list. It’s a good bet many of the people you are attempting to recruit won’t even see the text until days later.

  68. OneTwoThree*

    Ironically, I work for an IT Consulting Company. I am working with one of my customers to deploy a texting solution specifically for their HR Department. HR says it difficult to maintain communication with candidates without texting. This customer is a manufacturing plant and a lot of these positions will be on the production floor…. maybe it has something to do with the type of position and what phase they are in the hiring process.

    1. D3*

      Lessons learned from this letter that you can apply to your project:
      – Correctly identify the company up front
      – Tell applicants to expect a text message from you, and what they should do when they get it
      – Doind this ^^ means that you have to communicate in another way first. A message on the site where they apply, an email, a call, SOMETHING to prime them for the text system.
      – Have an alternate for people who don’t text

  69. Blarg*

    About ten years ago, I was working for a home visiting program as a nurse. While we had great retention, getting people to enroll was a challenge. And our existing clients loved texting with us. So we did a little study and when we got a referral, half got a phone call (standard practice) and half got a text. Literally zero people enrolled from the text message. They thought it was weird or spammy. We surveyed existing clients who all said they liked to be able to text their nurse once their was a relationship, but not out of the blue.

    I cannot imagine getting a text from a potential employer. Honestly I prefer email as first contact, so I can be prepared for a subsequent call.

    OP, can you send the perfunctory text but simultaneously ALSO send an email? And then if people respond to the email, you could let them know you have a silly system that likes them to reply to the text?

  70. I edit everything*

    Probably many of the better candidates are the ones who know the signs of scams/phishing/hacking attempts and so disregard the text. They’re being smart in not responding. It’s just that this one time, the text is actually important. Especially since the company names don’t match. Your company is shooting itself in the foot and will end up hiring the people who will open the virus-infested email attachment and use “password” as their system logins.

  71. el knife*

    This is actually a really good example of how lots of businesses treat the hiring of hourly workers: like cogs to plug in, all of them of the same skill level so it doesn’t matter which you get. It’s a terrible mentality that’s bad for the company but they do it anyway because treating hourly workers like crap is ‘fine’

  72. Phil*

    Right from the jump if I saw “Company X is would like to send you a message” I’d assume it was some sort of scam and I’d delete it.

  73. Des*

    What a terrible system! Even if I got the text (though I’d normally leave a landline number) I’d doubt it’s from a real company.

  74. Mel*

    FWIW, I work in an industry with very informal/casual communication norms – people generally have unpredictable hours and are often away from their computers for long stretches, and I have very occasionally communicated with an employer by text. But never as the first contact, and usually with an apology about being away from a computer, with a promise to follow up by e-mail/phone later. I’d definitely find opening with texting weird.

  75. S. Ninja*

    Uhh. I work in a finance-adjacent field and my office has strict security protocols that include not even allowing smartphones in the *building*. Hence, I haven’t owned a smartphone for the last four years, and don’t even have a texting plan. I know it’s an unusual situation but there are probably enough outlier cases for various reasons that they probably add up.

  76. Boopnash*

    Texting is actually a really great engagement tool! when deployed correctly. This is not.

    It works really well for political organizing and fundraising, for example. But even then, even with a tried and tested (and tested and refined and PERSONALIZED) opener text, you might only get 10% response rate.

    These text messages are costing the company money when an email could suffice at the start. But mainly because the text messages don’t seem to have been well thought out. I wonder if they did do any A/B testing.

    For data collection texting can be useful because text programs can tie-in to other CRM/CMS systems, and so responses can quickly clean up data or categorize a person or whatever. It’s a very quick, fun, marketing tool that, as I said, doesn’t seem to be deployed correctly here at all.

  77. Jessica Fletcher*

    They’re starting off asking if you accept the message because they know that a lot of people still pay per text or have text limits, especially people applying to hourly positions. They’re asking if you accept the charges. (But perhaps not asking clearly enough! I’m pretty sure there’s laws about disclosing these fees.)

    Speaking of disclosing fees! Does this listing service clearly notify applicants or ask their permission to receive text messages from potential employers, which may have charges from their mobile carrier? I bet not!

    This is such a bad system.

  78. MLH*

    If I received a text like that I would 100% assume it was a Cutco Knives type scammy sales job and run for the hills.

  79. Jack V*

    My first thought is, do you feel like you manage to get reasonable new hires? If so, then I agree the system totally sucks, but it might be easier to just accept that higher ups insist on something stupid, and spend little time worrying about it, and hope to start working somewhere better in a year or two.

    OTOH, if you feel like you’re struggling because you don’t get to hire any of the halfway competent or sensible people, maybe you can just work round it? That totally sucks but I think happens somewhat often in hiring processeses. You said, if the text message declines, you’re asked to contact the candidate another way. Do you have the ability to email or phone them? Can you do that first, and add it, “can you send another copy of your CV to this email address? also, you will get a text from our parent company, company X, please respond so your candidacy goes into the HR system”

    Basically, focus on “what works” to get good hires.

    A generous interpretation of this system might be that, some people trying to hire are way too busy, or exhausted, or have literally no experience and no-one to turn to to help, or are bad with people, and something that standardises the process even in a bad way helps all locations keep up a very minimum standard of hiring. A critical interpretation might be that it totally sucks and is awful and counterproductive, but someone higher up insisted on it for reasons you don’t know about.

    If there’s any chance to push back, I would focus on your immediate managers and people directly managing new hires, and focus on, do we get the applicants we need. If not, what can we do to that, whether it’s working round the system or getting the system changed or something else. It’s often the case that when you point out that something is horrible unprofessional no-one cares, but when you say, “we’re run out of teapot polishers”, suddenly a manager is willing to change something, even if it’s not the thing you expected.

    It’s worth keeping a set of suggestions for what SHOULD happen, in case someone asks what you think should happen and you have the chance to make the case. But it’s also likely that even if you get immediate managers on board, the company is just committed to this system and you can’t change it however right you are :(

    1. Jack V*

      FWIW, I’m probably not that representative, but getting an automated text from the company I applied for saying “you have been entered into the hiring process, expect a contact from X person next”, or a personal text from someone running the hiring process saying “Hello! It was great to meet you. Blah blah blah.” would feel normal (when it’s run by one person) or slightly unusual (for a casual job or a gig job) or somewhat unusual (for a full-time office job), but I probably wouldn’t read much into it. But getting a robot text from some other company would indeed just feel like spam.

      I also guess, maybe some people really are trying to run the hiring process from a smartphone not a computer? And the system has to work for them. And maybe they’re happy to lose all candidates who don’t fit into the most common mould. And that’s not great. But it may be something like, “higher ups value some aspect of this stupid system, so you can suggest changes but they’ll only get listened to if they don’t contradict those, and managers may not even realise what they are”.

  80. StudentA*

    I agree that this particular system sounds like a doozy for the recruiters and the applicants. But I wanted to share that lately I’ve been contacted by recruiters via text and they were legit. They were agencies, so I’ve found they’re likelier to get in touch anyway. I feel because they’re in sales/placement, their jobs are a different animal. I wouldn’t expect a text from, say, a bank. Either way, I wasn’t bothered in those circumstances.

  81. AlMack*

    In terms of actually getting your job done despite your company’s resistance to common sense and feedback in this case, OP, I wonder if it would be helpful to place a call to your leads like you’d prefer, and either have the conversation and warn them that the text is coming and ask them to respond ‘yes’ for your analytics, or leave a voicemail stating the same. It’s an extra step and annoying for sure, but I don’t think it’s burdensome to ask someone–“Hey, thanks for chatting with me. You’re going to get a text, it’s just how the automation works for this particular system, would you mind responding yes?”

  82. MrsFillmore*

    What a disaster! If nothing else, I’d push on finding a way to fix the language in the initial text, so that it names the job or at the very least the *correct company name* in the message. This can still be automated. There are scams that target people by contacting them for an interview with a company that the person never applied to (my husband was targeted by a surprisingly convincing one!), so applicants may well think your texts are a scam of this type.

  83. CoveredInBees*

    Just adding another voice to the chorus of: OH NO. THIS IS WEIRD. I’m in my mid 30s, so while texting has been widely used for much of my adult life, I certainly remember life and communications without it.

    This would feel weird and unprofessional and I would assume it was spam. In fact, those 50% of recipients who aren’t responding might be marking the messages as spam, making it likely that some carriers will start filtering them.

  84. Hann*

    As someone involved in managing IT, finance and HR for my company, one of the first topics that came to mind is:

    “Does this company actually provide its employees with mobile phones to use for all this texting? If not, does it pay the bills for these phones? If not, does it provide an app for exchanging “text” messages with candidates?”

    Yes, many people have free texting on their phone plans these days. But that doesn’t change the fact that if the company is relying on employees using their own personal phones for these recruiting activities, that means that every single candidate has the personal mobile numbers of key people in the recruiting/hiring process, mobile numbers that are the recruiters’ personal property and have ZERO to do with the company doing the hiring, whether it’s company Y or company Z … there are about a half dozen lines being crossed and about a dozen ways this can go wrong for the company, the candidate and the employees doing the recruiting / hiring, from the potential of compromise of an employee’s mobile device containing company, candidate information (including misuse of data by other people in the employee’s household who might have access to the device), to candidates harassing employee’s on their personal devices, to losing the connection to candidates, candidate status if one of your employees elopes to France, hightails it to your top competitor, gets hit by a bus, gets a ransomware attack on their jailbroke iPhone, etc.etc. And this is even before you get to the part about inability to conduct routine hiring process tracking, on-boarding from disparate devices on multiple platforms and carriers. I don’t care if “there’s an app for that”. If you, the company, want something done, YOU should be providing and in control of (with ownership, and ability to enforce security protocols) of the equipment your employees are using to do work for your company. Otherwise you are leaving yourself open to problems and externalizing costs/risk of your business to your employees.

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