JOB SEARCH: To Text or Not To Text

JOB SEARCH: To Text or Not To Text

Much of communication in 2021 is done via text or group chats. It’s become a normal way to communicate and as one Millennial employee once said to me “When the phone rings I panic. WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME WHEN YOU CAN TEXT?” I had to offer the same feedback when she was dealing with an issue and I texted “I am going to call you and you are going to pick up because this is too important to text!”

My life has transitioned from the community phone in the home kitchen with a very long cord you pulled to its limit to hide in a closet to talk to friends so prying siblings couldn’t listen in, to counting the days until my 16th birthday when I could get a phone in my room (it was a Swatch phone and I loved it!)

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I’ve used rotary phones and was so thankful when I could just push 7 buttons to get my source and not risk meeting up the dial on the final number 8, thus starting all over again.

In the mid 90’s I had a beeper/pager, whatever you call it in your region. It was neon green and was the only chain a worried mother had to me. I carried around quarters to be able to call her back when I was on the go.

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The advent of answering machines, caller ID, and call block were thrilling to me, and when I moved away from home I had to call and “check the machine” several times a day while I was at work.

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Eventually, I got a work pager. It was hefty and thick and rumbled like thunder when it went off.

Here you see it in a photo in the week after 9/11 at WMC in Memphis, hanging from my jeans (always). We held a vigil outside the station, which is why we are all holding candles and why I look like I haven’t slept in days (I hadn’t).

Then my first mobile phone quickly turned into a phone with terribly pixilated photos and then – Texting.

You’d dread having to text words like “SICK” because it took a lot of work, and eventually my fingers worked so quickly I could text you “SSSSSSSSSSSSSS” in milliseconds, if I wanted to.

New phones, new technology, and new options made it easier to text with your fingers or voice.

I’ve never LOVED texting as a sole means of communication, but I’m too much on the hook to ever go back to only talking on the phone.

There are parts of my job, like interviewing, I must talk on the phone, and I enjoy doing so. There are those times when we do those calls from either our work mobile phone or our own mobile phone if we don’t have one from work.

Here lies the challenge. So, you are searching for a job and now you’ve got a direct instant line to the hiring manager. You might have thought you had an amazing call and wonder why you haven’t heard back. Days go by like years, and you think several times about texting them.

Before you type “I just wanted to follow up”, take note of these pieces of advice:

–       When you first talk to the person, ask if it’s okay to text them during the interview process. Get permission. Don’t assume it’s okay for them just because it’s your preferred method of communication. Remember if they say no, it’s not personal. I can’t imagine back in 2000 looking up the home phone number of a hiring manager and calling them on a Saturday night. It felt so intrusive because it is. Their mobile phone turns into that “home phone” on weekends and evenings.

–       If you do get permission, or if you ignore my first piece of advice, don’t text outside of work hours. I have had candidates text me at 8pm on Saturday night or 9am on a Sunday morning – repeatedly. It just doesn’t set the right impression that you are sneaking into their time off. While YOU might have waited as long as you possibly can and you just can’t resist, imagine what that hiring manager is doing at that point in time, whether it’s out for a much-needed nice dinner, watching a movie or sleeping in after a long week. If we get a work text during these hours, our first thought is “BREAKING NEWS?”.

–       When texting a hiring manger (with permission), text like you’d write a resume or a cover letter. No “Are U close 2 hiring job RN?” and the like. It works with your friends, but not necessarily with your future boss. After a certain age, hiring managers have a hard time even dissecting what all those abbreviations mean. I remember the first time I had to ask someone what FTW meant, and I felt so uncool asking.

–       If you don’t get a response, don’t keep texting. If we choose to use text during recruiting, we’ll answer when we can. I personally don’t like to reinforce bad behavior, so I generally won’t text back when it comes during outside work hours or if it’s someone I told I don’t take texts from applicants. We already get so many texts a day from our entire staff of employees, our boss, and sources. They come first, always.

–       Now if you are flying out for an interview and have a flight delay, or if you have already been hired, texting is much more acceptable. We know the move and the stress of these processes can lead to quick texts and you don’t always want to talk to someone when you are running to a flight that got moved 3 terminals over with 10 minutes to spare. I will usually tell people “Please text, call or email if you have issues”, so they are clear on how they can get a hold of me.

Every hiring manager is going to be different, and that’s why I think it’s critical to ask if it’s okay to text. Everyone has varying levels of preferred communication. I love email. I check it often, respond quickly, and don’t feel like I am chained to it as I am my phone. I have my phone set so it doesn’t “ding” every time an email comes in. 

The best way to get the answer you want isn’t texting. It’s in the initial phone call or at the end of the interview “When should I expect to hear from you again?” goes a long way.

Good luck!

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