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CHICAGO—Messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik and Facebook's Messenger may soon eclipse social media communication. Recruiters have keyed in on the technology and are beginning to use it to find and retain talent.
"Chat-based messaging is still in its infancy," said Ryan Healy, founder and president of Arlington, Va.-based enterprise chat-software company Brazen, speaking to attendees at the Human Resource Executive HR Technology Conference and Exposition Oct. 5. But already, the number of people using the apps is huge.
"There are 2.5 billion people using messaging apps," he said; by 2018, that number is estimated to rise to 3.6 billion people. Some say it may soon surpass social media usage. By comparison, in 2016, 2.6 billion people had a social media profile, according to Statista, an online statistics portal.
According to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center, "36 percent of smartphone owners report using these communication tools. Young adults are particularly enchanted by these kinds of apps, with 49 percent of owners ages 18 to 29 using them."
Chat-based messaging apps allow people to text each other as they would on mobile phones, whether they are on a phone, desktop or tablet. All that's required is Internet access.
And in a world where Millennials and Generation Z think it's rude to call someone without texting first, Healy said, chat-based messaging has "transformed how we do business."
Eileen Raymond, executive director of experienced hire recruiting at Chicago-based KPMG, told attendees that recruiters have seen success using chat-based messaging for recruitment and engagement.
Over a two-year period, KPMG hosted 12 chat-based events using Brazen's web-based, mobile-optimized instant chat messaging platform during which it encouraged candidates—both internal and external—to engage with its staff about careers.
"Through those 12 events, we hired more than 70 people," Raymond said. A total of 2,700 people participated. Of the 70 hired, she said, "91 percent of the candidates were diverse; 75 percent were female; 65 percent had two to seven years' worth of experience; and 35 percent had eight or more years' worth of experience.
"It costs less than $800 for those 70 hires," she said, and that "doesn't include the 20 people we transferred internally as part of an internal campaign." She added that the cost for recruitment would have been more.
She added that KPMG did "quite a bit of marketing" to specific target groups (advisory, tax, technology and audit professionals) before the event. "We let them know they could participate on their lunch breaks." They spoke to leaders, employees and hiring managers, too.
"For me as a recruiting director that needed to execute [hiring], it was quite easy," she added.
Candidates use the platform just as they would a personal chat-based service, and recruiters can swipe left or right to see more of a candidate's profile—such as his or her resume or LinkedIn page, Healy said.
He added that recruiters need to think like marketers when trying to find talent. In marketing, it's all about a "call to action," where viewers are asked to do something, like buy a product or share information.
"Top talent responds three times better if you offer them access to people in your organization. Interaction is the best call to action. It makes sense because I want to know what's really going to happen after I start working at your organization," he said.
Raymond offered these tips for a successful chat-based recruitment event:
E-mail registrants who did not attend and invite them to future events and to your talent community.
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