In an increasingly competitive market for talent, recruiters are always looking for new ways to stand out and connect with the candidates. With TextRecruit, a mobile recruiting platform that helps recruiters connect with candidates via text message, CEO Erik Kostelnik hopes to offer just that. In addition to getting high open and response rates, TextRecruit offers real-time analytics and ensures compliance and security in all interactions. Industry leaders like Cracker Barrel, VMware and Liberty Mutual have already made TextRecruit a part of their recruitment strategies, and earlier this year, the company was named “B2B Startup of the Year” at the American Business Awards. Kostelnik recently sat down with CareerBuilder to discuss how the idea for TextRecruit came about, how candidate communication is evolving and how a partnership with CareerBuilder’s Talentstream Engage product came to be.
What drove you to found TextRecruit?
I had a hypothesis in 2013 that all professional profiles and data were going to become commoditized, and that the most valuable assets to companies would be communication, data intelligence and predictive analytics. Texting was the only form of business communication the recruiter was using that was not centralized and owned by the company. The recruiters were using their personal phones, which is a big compliance and security issues for enterprise organizations. So we found five customers who were using texting to recruit, and we knew they needed a system of record and structure. We approached them, pre-sold them on this idea and build the product from there.
A few recruitment industry experts have called texting “the next big thing in recruiting.” Would you agree with that assessment?
I would say communication is changing. There are more text messages being sent on a daily basis than calls and emails combined. Texting will be the preferred communication tool for certain points of the hiring and onboarding process. While there are some things you just can’t do with text – such as sending interview materials or onboarding info – any communication tool that gets you 100 percent open rate and 37 percent response rate (in 12 minutes on average) is going to be exciting for any business process. We have the largest data source of two-way communication for recruiting and HR functions in less than 160 characters, so we believe the next big thing is adding intelligence to our system and having conversations with millions of candidates at the same time via the TextRecruit platform.
We’ve seen that candidates are responsive to receiving text messages from recruiters – with a rate of 37 percent What needs to be done to make that response rate higher?
We need to continue educating the market on the best practices and helping with templating and policies on how to best use texting.
What are some common misconceptions or concerns around texting to recruit – from both recruiters and job seekers?
I think there is a misconception that texting is not professional. The fact that we have an unsubscribe rate in our platform of less than .01 percent disproves that notion. The message simply needs to be personalized and correctly targeted in order for you to get the most out of the message. Using TextRecruit’s best practices and templates is going to make your organization more effective when leveraging this new communication strategy. There are also misconceptions that only millennials and Gen Z are texting. Texting has been around for over 30 years, however, and there are more texts sent out daily than calls and emails combined. Also, now that millennials are in their 30’s, people should be interested in how the new generations are communicating and using that to their advantage.
Do you have any success stories from customers you would like to share? Once customer, Liberty Mutual, has seen an enormous impact from using TextRecruit. At least 20 percent of the candidates they source today come from their texting campaigns. As of today, we’ve identified over 20,000 customers that are in our target, and we attracted about 200 of them in the last 14 months.
How did the partnership with CB’s Talentstream Engage product come about?
I started my career in HR technology with Careerbuilder, and owe a lot to my managers there for teaching me the industry and how to manage people. I know the CareerBuilder world well and Talentstream Engage is a perfect fit for engagement via text message. With the integration, shared clients will be able to engage their potential candidates and talent network members via TextRecruit in their ATS, members in their Talentstream Engage and their HCM. It’s going to be an exciting opportunity.
About Erik: Erik Kostelnik is the CEO and Founder of TextRecruit. Erik is a proven technology entrepreneur, advisor and sales leader who has built and managed multiple technology companies that have led to hyper revenue growth, major capital investments and acquisition.