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How to set up text-to-apply for your job openings

Want to attract more applicants, fill your postings quickly, and get it done with minimal effort? Do it all with text-to-apply.

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Text-to-apply is everywhere. It’s on signs outside restaurants and stores, on business social media pages, and even on job listings.

The fact is, 89% of job seekers prefer texting to emails or calls.

If you want to stand out among the thousands of near-identical job postings on Indeed or LinkedIn, sending your posting straight to your candidates’ text inboxes is a sure bet.

Not only that, you can conduct almost the entire recruitment process through text, from first contact to hiring paperwork. 

Intrigued? Well, let me introduce you to the hiring phenomenon known as text-to-apply. Let’s get into it.

SimpleTexting is text recruiting software

Increase applications and decrease speed to hire. Advertise openings, make it easy for candidates to apply, and innovate your communication process with text recruiting software.


What is text-to-apply?

Text-to-apply is an SMS process that allows job applicants to text a keyword to a phone number and receive an automatic response with:

  1. A direct link to a job application,
  2. a document outlining the role or position,
  3. or a link to more information as they decide whether to apply.

Text-to-apply is also known as text-to-hire and text-to-apply software.

Typically, text-to-apply starts with an advertisement posted by the employer. The advertisement’s call to action is to text the business’s phone number with a specific word or phrase. When a candidate texts the number, they receive an automated response with more information.

A text-to-apply example

Here’s an example of it in action.

A row of vertical banner signs outside a brick building, with the closest sign prominently displaying 'We're Hiring' in large white letters on a red background. Below, it instructs to 'Text TEAM to 227397 to view current openings', aligning with the 'text to apply for job openings' initiative.

This is an example from Casey's, a gas station and convenience store that hires with a simple text-to-join keyword posted on their parking structures.

When candidates text the keyword to their number, they receive an auto-confirmation message with more information about open positions.

A screenshot of a smartphone messaging app displaying a text message bubble with the word 'Team' sent from the user. The reply bubble shows a message from CASEY'S, inviting the user to 'Discover your career with Casey's! View our current openings here: [link to Casey's career page] Reply DEALS now to join our text club.' This illustrates a 'text to apply for job openings' service via mobile messaging.

Recruiters may also use text-to-apply to gather additional information directly from candidates' text messages.

Why use text-to-apply software?

More than 18 billion text messages are sent every day, so it’s hardly surprising that 81% of Americans report using texting daily.

That’s why text-to-apply is so convenient for jobseekers — they’re already texting all the time. With no special app to download, the application process stays simple for both sender and recipient, and qualified hires are just a text message away.

The prevalence of texting isn’t the only reason you should be using SMS for recruiting. It’s also:

  • Fast and personal: When someone texts in your keyword, you can respond immediately (instantly if you use an auto-confirmation message) and continue to communicate one-on-one with them.
  • Modern: SMS is an excellent way to show job candidates that your company is technologically up-to-date, responsive, and efficient.
  • Low-pressure: Filling out a lengthy job application can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Texting, on the other hand, is a quick and “business casual” way to send in job applications.

Texting is extra useful for hiring processes where:

  • People aren’t always at their desks, such as in retail or hospitality. 
  • Hiring managers are doing high-volume, competitive, or rapid recruitment.
  • Recruiters have existing access to print and advertising budgets, signs, billboards, and subway ads to post keywords or QR codes.

How to set up text-to-apply

Text-to-hire is straightforward to set up and works in the same way as text-to-join. Here’s the breakdown. 

1. Choose a business texting service

You'll need a business text messaging platform to start. As you've probably guessed, SimpleTexting meets that definition.

SimpleTexting customers use our service to send mass texts (to staff, customers, volunteers, etc.) and converse with individuals one-on-one.

Our tool works well for independent businesses that want a simple, effective way to recruit talent. The use case that works well for our software is for quick-hire positions, like in the service industry, where competition is fierce and talent is tech-savvy.

When you sign up, you'll get a free trial that allows you to send a text message to your own phone number to see how it works. When you buy the software, you'll choose your business's text-enabled phone number. Then you'll be ready to rock with setup for text message recruiting.

2. Create a text-to-apply keyword to use in your "now hiring" advertisements

A keyword is a short, memorable word or phrase that jobseekers can text to your phone number to agree to receive future texts from your team.

For example, a coffee chain might ask jobseekers to text the keyword “BARISTA” to their number.

Tools like Canva can help you create visuals for text-to-apply like this Instagram graphic.

To make sure that ad works, you'll set up a keyword in SimpleTexting.

Just log into your account and click Keywords in the left menu. Name the keyword and create a list where you'll add people's numbers.

3. Draft your automatic text replies for applicants

After a candidate texts the keyword “BARISTA,” they’ll receive an automated response. There are several different ways that you can approach your auto-confirmation message.

The option(s) you choose will depend on the role you’re hiring for, your hiring process, and how quickly you need to hire. For example, your confirmation message could simply ask for a reply for basic information:

STARBIRD: Thanks so much for your interest in working with us. To get started, please reply with the position you're most interested in, full-time or part-time, and your number of years of experience in the service industry. Thanks in advance.

Here are four ways to collect information via text-to-apply:

  • Ask for candidates to reply with key information like role interests, full-time or part-time, and number of years.
  • Send a link to an online application (check out that Casey's example above to see what this looks like).
  • Share a link to schedule a phone interview.
  • Send a PDF via text with more information on the role.

4. Optional: Screen candidates with text message questions.

Pre-screening candidates through text messages could be helpful to collect enough information to make an interview decision quickly.

You can screen candidates by text automatically using our custom fields and data collection features.

First, write down the screening questions you'd like to ask. SimpleTexting offers several default fields to collect the basics like:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your email address?

But you may want to also ask several other questions related specifically to your business and open positions:

  • Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  • What position are you most interested in?
  • At what location would you like to work?
  • How many years of experience in the industry do you have?
  • Why would you like to work for us?
  • What is your superpower?

You'll create custom fields for these sorts of questions. It's as easy as logging into SimpleTexting, selecting Contacts, clicking Custom fields, and tapping the New custom field button.

Next, you'll set up what we call data collection to actually ask these questions via text messages and get the information you need from each candidate.

In SimpleTexting, navigate to Apps in the left menu, select Data Collection, and hit the New data collection button. Name the data collection and select the Keyword to collect data from (I like naming the collection the same as the keyword).

Now you'll see Prompts. This is where you'll select the default and custom fields, then write your questions for the applications to reply to.

Let's pretend our full list of prescreen questions are:

  • Let’s start with the basics. What is your first name?
  • Great. What's your last name?
  • Thank you, %%firstname%%. What's your email address?
  • Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? Reply “Yes” or “No”.
  • What position are you applying for? Reply "Server", "Bartender", or "Cook".
  • We value our %%position%%s around here! Where would you like to work? Reply "546 Main Ave" or "846 1st Ave N".
  • How many years have you worked in the service industry, %%firstname%%? Reply with digits like "1".
  • Sweet. Two more questions, that's it! Why would you like to work for us? Reply up to 160 characters.
  • OK, last question (just for fun): What's your superpower? Reply up to 160 characters.
  • Thanks, %%firstname%%! We'll reach out via text within 2 business days with next steps. Text us if you have questions!

In Data Collection, you'll Add question for each, choose the SimpleTexting field, then simply copy/paste these questions into each Question field.

Then add that last Follow up message and hit Create data collection. You're done!

5. Advertise your text-to-apply keyword

The more places you advertise your keyword, the more applications you’ll receive. 

The rule here is to show off your keyword anywhere interested candidates might see it. You can promote your keyword on social media, in physical locations, on your website, and anywhere candidates interact with your brand.

Text to apply FAQs

I hope you’ve got a good idea of how to get your SMS recruiting program up and running. For a little bonus, here are some additional questions recruiters often ask. 

If the answer you’re looking for isn’t here, the SimpleTexting team would be more than happy to help. Just use the chat icon at the bottom of your screen.

How much does text-to-apply software cost?

The cost of a text-to-apply campaign depends on the number of candidates you need to communicate with. The good news is that the more candidates you talk to, the cheaper each SMS is. Our lowest plan is $29 and comes with 500 SMS, a toll-free number, dedicated support seven days a week, and unlimited text-to-apply keywords.
There are several ways you can integrate SimpleTexting with your ATS. Our SMS API or Zapier integration are the two most common methods. Alternatively, we can build custom integrations, which requires a sales process.
Recruiters also use SimpleTexting to schedule interviews, follow up with candidates, manage referrals, and re-engage a database of candidates who applied before or showed interest and then dropped off.
Express written consent is a requirement when texting jobseekers. In this case, that means that when advertising Text to Apply keywords, you need to ensure that you include your campaign purpose, message frequency, info about message and data rates, plus a link to your terms and conditions and privacy policy (and don’t forget to let contacts know how to opt out of your messages).

Get started today with text-to-hire

A smooth, efficient hiring process can make all the difference in drawing candidates to your business. Hopefully, you’ve got a good headstart now on setting up text recruiting — you’ll have your job postings filled in no time.

Not yet a SimpleTexting customer? You can get started here with a free trial. Send a text to yourself today to see how it works.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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