The Comprehensive Guide to Text to Apply: Everything You Need to Know about Text Recruiting

Mobile recruiting is on the rise. With over a 95% open rate, employers are utilizing text recruiting to engage, pre-screen, and hire their candidates faster. Through quick responses and automation, text recruiting has allowed for recruiters to create better candidate experiences – and it’s increased the speed of recruiting. Learn more about text recruiting software in this blog post.

Tali Rapaport
Co-Founder & CEO, Puck

Today, over 94% of candidates are looking for work on their mobile phones. It’s estimated that an adult in the US checks their phone an average of 150 times a day. For someone who is actively job searching, this means they have constant access for their search. 

This is even more important to consider when hiring candidates for in-person roles at physical store locations. With the rise in remote work, jobs that require a regular or exclusively in-person component are harder to fill. In part, this is because jobs allowing remote work have a larger pool of potential candidates to fill each open role. This has made workers across all industries more sensitive to commute time. With remote jobs, there’s no commute time so the opportunity cost of commuting has gone up. 

For retail stores or restaurants who often hire frontline workers from their customer base, the pool of people who are already in their location is a great opportunity to turn customers into candidates. And this pool of candidates are already on their phone while they are there.

Since the pandemic, mobile recruiting has been on the rise and employers globally have been looking for more optimal ways to reach potential candidates. One of these methods is through text message recruiting, or text to apply.

What is text to apply and how does it work? 

Simply, text to apply is text-based conversation with a software bot that enables applicants to apply to a job. 

There are a few ways for text to apply to work. The high-level idea is that a candidate will text in a job application. But before that happens, the candidate needs to know that there is an open job. A great way for stores to indicate that they have job openings is to have signs up that say they’re hiring. But the problem with this is that candidates have to be willing to go find the right person to ask about the job, which can be intimidating – and, if the person is alone, can be difficult to do.

So, the first step of text to apply is actually the in-store merchandising letting prospective candidates know that there are open roles with a clear call-to-action on how applicants can apply. What’s the best way to get this message across to potential applicants? We suggest starting with stickers or business cards. Why? You are likely to update the signage over time, so you want something that you can update easily.

Puck’s Text to Apply

With Puck, a candidate starts by scanning a QR code or texting a short code or phone number. However, having the process start with candidates typing in a number is more prone to human error. They can get a digit wrong (or multiple!) and the end result is that they aren’t able to apply or think they’ve been ghosted – both are bad. Additionally, short codes are expensive to use for text to apply and cost over $12,000 per year per code, with approvals required before use – meaning only the largest employers will continue to use short codes. So what’s the alternative?

QR Code Business Cards

We recommend using a business card with a QR code printed on it for two reasons:

  1. Business cards are small and inexpensive to print. They don’t take up a lot of physical space at your business location, and you can update them without making a huge dent in your budget if you want to change them up.
  2. Candidates can take a business card with them when they leave your location as a reminder to apply. Of course, you want candidates to start the application process as soon as they see your job opening, but it’s very unlikely that a candidate will finish the application process in that same visit. Candidates who aren’t able to start their applications on-site can take business cards as a reminder to finish later. Or, if they know someone who might be a better fit for the role, they can share the business card with them. Overall, this is much more likely to happen than writing down or remembering a 10-digit number or short code.

There is, however, one noticeable downside to QR code business cards. While their size is a positive, it’s also a negative – business cards are small. Usually so small that if you’re really hiring urgently, you are likely going to want more visibility for your open roles. 

In situations like these, we recommend a large sticker, banner, or poster. They’re easy to put on, and you don’t have to worry about someone removing or losing it. However, if your hiring situation changes, it’s also easy enough to remove so that you won’t have trouble. You can also put it on a door or window that’s visible to your foot traffic to make sure candidates see that you are hiring.

So, now what? What happens after candidates scan the QR code?

Text Messages

After scanning a QR code, the candidate will typically be directed to a job website or be sent a text message that is part of an automated text messaging flow. 

At Puck, our recommendation is to put candidates into a text message flow because it’s more efficient and less prone to error. Candidates won’t have to open up their mobile browser and click around to figure out where they need to go and what they need to submit. Additionally, web browsers can be unreliable. And, if they’re not optimized for mobile, they’ll be hard for candidates to navigate. Over 20% of people drop off when filling out mobile forms! This is less true with text messages.

After the candidate starts a text thread with your job application, we drop the candidate into your ATS or employer dashboard for review after they’ve replied with a few pieces of information – this is the same for all text to apply providers!

But not all text messages are the same. Let’s dive into this a bit more –

The standard text message allows you to have 160 7-bit characters (letters) per message, which means you don’t want your text messages to be too long. Especially if your job application is already long! That would be inefficient and difficult for the candidate. For example, when asking about EEO information, there is too much text per question to ask in a text message without confusing the applicant. A best practice for text recruiting is to keep your application questions short and concise and split them over multiple messages.

Moving on from text message best practices, what types of messages should you be sending? 

Most people who are responsible for hiring don’t typically need to worry about message type because they use software tools that help them hire (and select for them). However, it’s helpful to know and differentiate between the message types so that you know what kind of questions to ask your potential software tool provider.

There are four common types of text messages that allow for different types of content to be sent, which have different costs. They are: 

  1. RCS. This is the new Google Android messaging standard and is more of a modern type of messaging standard. The challenge with using RCS is that Apple doesn’t accept this standard, so this only really works exclusively with Android users.
  2. SMS. These messages are accepted on both Android and Apple devices, but they are only able to be used for sending texts. This means that you won’t be able to send images, videos, or URLs – so if URLs are a critical component of your text recruiting strategy, you can’t use SMS.
  3. MMS. This is how you can send rich media to Apple and Android users at the same time. However, this is more expensive to send since you are sending more than just a standard text message. That being said, it’s not prohibitively expensive.
  4. iMessage. These messages are for messages between two Apple devices. The biggest benefit beyond status is that there isn’t any cost associated with sending iMessages. However, businesses aren’t typically using this to hire frontline workers as this typically requires someone to have an iPhone.

Who uses text to apply?

Any employer who posts jobs can benefit from using text to apply (or any text recruitment software) because it’s another way for them to collect candidate information and fill their pipeline. However, there are also certain businesses and industries where using text to apply can amplify hiring efforts, such as:

  • Industries that have hourly workers that don’t sit in front of a computer, such as truck drivers, hospitality or retail workers. With text to apply, recruiters can target industry-specific job boards or specific physical locations where their candidates are and are more likely to apply.
  • Businesses that have physical locations, like restaurants or retail storefronts. Candidates can view text to apply instructions on signage and apply easily from their phone.
  • Recruiters that have access to print and advertising budgets for signs, billboards, or ads where they can post QR codes.

Is text to apply worth it?

Yes. There are a lot of new terms to learn and signage to consider when rolling out text to apply or any new text recruiting software – but it’s worth it. Text recruiting has become an extremely popular and successful recruitment platform over the past few years, especially because: 

  • Text messaging has over a 95% open rate and most text messages are read within three minutes of being sent
  • Employers are able to meet candidates where they’re at – their phones
  • Companies can leverage software and automation to engage and pre-screen candidates quickly, which allows for a speedier and more efficient hiring process
  • Text to apply can help with nurturing passive candidates by keeping companies top of mind and gives candidates an easy way to re-connect with recruiters

It’s clear that text is a leader amongst all other forms of communication. With over 18 billion texts sent a day, it’s unsurprising that text to apply is so convenient for jobseekers. There is no requirement for the candidate to download a special app and the overall process is simple and streamlined for both the candidate and the recruiter, making hiring just a few steps away.

Text to apply is worth it and there are a lot of benefits, such as: 

  • Increased quantity of qualified applicants for your job postings from customers-turned-candidates. For example, if you are hiring for a physical location and your candidate found your job opening because of your text to apply signage, they’ll likely be a good fit because they’re already bought into your brand and are already in your store.
  • Cutting down on ghosting. If you’re a happy customer of a business, you’re less likely to ghost your first interview. 
  • Personalizing your messaging to showcase your brand, while also responding immediately so you can get candidates to the next stage 
  • Reaching a wider job market of candidates that you may not have necessarily reached before 

Turn your customers into candidates

Make it easier for the right candidate to start their application. Puck's Text to Apply gets you to more qualified applicants in seconds and helps you fill your open roles, faster.

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