Career Corner: Don’t Text and Hire

Companies are using text messages to reject candidates. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

I recently learned about a new, shocking phenomenon. Maybe I’m getting old. In my world, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use text messages. The right way is to text people you actually know.

Almost everything else falls into the wrong way category. Occasionally, companies I shop at will try to text me and I opt out. The only time it feels good to interact with a business via text is when they’re confirming an appointment. For example, it can be helpful when a hair stylist confirms their appointment with you by text. It reminds you and allows you to easily interact with the business on your own time.

But, what I’ve seen lately doesn’t fall into these categories. It takes text messaging to an entirely new level. Employers are using text messaging in their hiring process. You heard me right. Employers are texting job seekers.

I have to think that text messaging was some fancy feature added on to a recruiting package. I can imagine a sales rep explaining that, “This is a great way to text with candidates! It will make your life so easy and will let the candidates know that you’re ahead of the game!”

But, I don’t see it this way at all. Job seeking is delicate. First of all, it’s very private. Very few people should be aware you’re job searching. The last thing you need is text messages popping up on your phone out of the blue from an employer. On top of any privacy concerns, job seeking is an extremely emotional process. It can be like a roller coaster. Often, job seekers will put aside certain time during the day to work on their job search. This is a great way to manage the stress that job seekers typically feel.

You may wonder how companies could be using text messaging to communicate with applicants. There are two main buckets that these text messages fall into. The first are messages that are sent by people, and the second are automated messages that are sent by a computer.

When a company manually sends text messages, the person is generally reaching out to schedule or reschedule interviews. Recruiters also use text messages to ask candidates how an interview went with a hiring manager. These messages aren’t ideal, but they aren’t the worst.

The worst are text messages sent by computer. Companies are using them to reject candidates. Let that sink in. Remember how painful automated rejection emails are (the ones you check at your home, in the time you’ve devoted to your job search)? Now, imagine you’re going about your day and a rejection pops up on your phone, from a job you were truly interested in. Ouch!

Companies, remember: you don’t have to use every shiny piece of technology on your new applicant tracking system. Treat job seekers the way you would want to be treated.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

September 26, 2019

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Angela Copeland

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