Recruiters! Do You Need Permission to Text Candidates?

Tim Sackett Canvas, Recruiting, Tim Sackett

Image credit: Recruiting Social

Do you hate getting unsolicited sales calls and texts!?

I do! I bet if we did a FOT poll on this question it would come back 100% of people hate unsolicited sales calls and text messages!

We know that roughly 95% of all text messages are seen in the first three minutes of being received. We all believe this because it’s something we live every day. Someone sends you a text message and almost no matter the circumstance, you look down at your phone to see what it is.

If you’re not doing something important you’ll usually open up that message, read it, and either reply or just delete it. If it’s from someone you know, there’s a good chance you’ll probably reply. If it’s from someone you don’t know, it feels a bit intrusive, or even downright creepy!

We tend to believe that unsolicited calls, emails, and text messages are against the law. “It’s spam, Tim, and spam is against the law! Look it up, idiot!”

Okay, I did. The law that speaks to this is called the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Here’s what TCPA says:

“The TCPA restricts telephone solicitations (i.e., telemarketing) and the use of automated telephone equipment. The TCPA limits the use of automatic dialing systems, artificial or prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines. It also specifies several technical requirements for fax machines, autodialers, and voice messaging systems—principally with provisions requiring identification and contact information of the entity using the device to be contained in the message.”

See!!! SMS text messages are included! You lose, loser!

Wait, not so fast Spam Nazi! You need to actually break down what TCPA restricts by definition!

“TCPA restricts telephone ‘solicitation’…” 

So, the big question is this – Is texting a candidate about a position you have open and you think they might be interested in considered ‘solicitation’?

No. It’s not.

If it was, every time you called a candidate for a job, it would be considered a solicitation and as such we could no longer call candidates about jobs. That’s not the case because you’re not ‘selling’ a candidate anything. There is no transaction that occurs. No candidate is paying money to show interest or lack of interest in the job you have open.

So, by law, you do not need permission to text a candidate.

But, just because the law says it’s fine for you to text candidates, it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of this fact and start ‘spamming’ candidates like crazy via text messages! As with any candidate interaction you have, you have one shot at making a great first impression. Sending a text message is no different!

I’m a believer that 100% of TA shops should be utilizing text messaging in some capacity or another when communicating with candidates, but at this point, we aren’t even close to 100%. Why? Well, one fact remains that people are misinterpreting the need for permission to text candidates. So, go forth and text my TA pros! Just be respectful of it, just like you do via email and calling!


FOT Note:  We here at FOT like to think we get talent and HR at a different level. At the very least, we are probably going to have a different take than the norm. So it made perfect sense to ask Canvas to be an annual sponsor at FOT, where they’ll sponsor posts like this one, allowing FOT contributors to write, without restriction, on all things related to using new and innovative ideas in recruiting, like using text messaging to interview candidates. If you find yourself thinking, “Hey, I should really look into Canvas!” then go do it, I think you’ll love the technology! 

Tim Sackett
If you Google “Tim Sackett” you’ll find our Tim, and a truck driver chaplain. Our Tim is NOT the truck driver chaplain, although how awesome would that be if he was!? He is a prolific writer in the HR and TA space who just happens to also run an Engineering and IT contract staffing agency (HRU Technical Resources) out of Michigan. He also writes every day at his own blog, the Tim Sackett Project. Weirdly, he’s known as an expert in workplace hugging, which was kind of cool years ago, but now seems painfully creepy, but we still love him and he’s fairly harmless. Tim is also on the board of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), lifetime Michigan State Spartan fan, husband to a Hall of Fame wife, 3 sons, and his best friend Scout. He also wrote a book with SHRM called The Talent Fix, you can find it on Amazon.