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Text Recruiting Is the Future

CDW increases speed-to-hire with candidates' 'go-to medium'

A business woman holding a cup of coffee while looking at her phone.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—"Leave a message and I'll get back to you" is a thing of the past at CDW, a global technology firm based in Chicago. Jared Bazzell, the company's talent acquisition manager, said recruiters get better and faster responses by texting candidates than they do by calling or e-mailing.

"CDW rolled out text recruiting globally [in 2017] to fill roles quicker and more efficiently at a time when employers are feeling the pain of low unemployment rates and speed is of the essence," Bazzell said at the 2019 Society for Human Resource Management Talent Conference & Exposition. "As the organization has grown, finding areas that increase productivity and drive efficiency has been essential. And in a tightened labor market, time-to-fill is higher, so speed to market is everything."

The company employs 10,000 people, screens 70,000 applications per year and makes 1,400 hires annually. "How do we communicate with those candidates at scale and at speed?" Bazzell asked. "It cannot be a manual process."

And text messaging is what candidates want. Two-thirds expect a mobile-friendly candidate experience, according to Bazzell.

"Candidates deserve to be communicated with the way they want to be communicated with," said Erik Kostelnik, founder and CEO of TextRecruit, a leading text messaging platform and the vendor CDW uses. "This is the way things are going. Everything must be mobile. It is not a value upgrade anymore. If you are not set up to be mobile-first, not just mobile-optimized, then you will lose to your competitors."

Mobile communications are already happening in the background anyway, Bazzell said. "Your recruiters are texting candidates. They're empowered with the company phone. But they have to think about the process when sending a text message. Compliance and security are at risk. There is no record of the texts. We're a federal government contractor, and logging that communication is essential."

Bazzell was hired at CDW in 2015. He realized there was a huge opportunity to improve the hiring experience and allow recruiters to focus on the high-value, high-impact moments of the recruiting life cycle.

"I showed ROI [return on investment] and cost savings to get buy-in," he said. "I showed how a text messaging platform can drive efficiencies in the recruiting process and increase productivity. Over the last three years, the number of requisitions being closed by recruiters has continued to increase, but the number of recruiters has actually gone down."


Since going live with TextRecruit with a test group in June 2016, CDW has maintained an 87 percent response rate. "It is truly amazing," Bazzell said. "All recruiters use the product, which is integrated with the company's applicant tracking system. It has become the go-to medium for communicating with candidates."

The average response time has been three minutes. The open rate with texting is five times CDW's open rate with e-mail, and the opt-out rate for text is 25 times lower than it is for e-mail.

Over 4,200 hours in recruiter efficiency have been saved, according to Bazzell.

Tips for Making It Work

Don't be afraid to start small, Bazzell said. "We started with 13 users as a testing group. We found people who had a passion for technology and trying new things. They became our pacesetters. Then other people started to ask, 'How are you doing that?' It just spread like wildfire."

Do be authentic. "Don't be the employer who goes out there and pushes out staged corporate speak," he said. "Treat candidates like gold. Address them by name."

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CDW allows recruiters the flexibility to customize text message templates to meet their needs. "We don't force recruiters to use TextRecruit," Bazzell said. "And we allow the candidate to choose how they want to be communicated with. If you want to communicate via phone, we do that; via text, great; via e-mail, great. We want candidates to be in the driver's seat."


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