SMS recruitment levels the playing field
SMS has shown its ability to act as a catalyst for social change time and time again
SMS has shown its ability to act as a catalyst for social change time and time again. From farming, to healthcare, to education and banking, the ease with which information can be accessed and shared via SMS has levelled the playing fields for marginalised members of society around the world.
Increasingly this applies to employment as well. With the addition of SMS as a recruitment channel, candidates without internet access – especially those based in more rural locations in South Africa – finally get the same opportunity to apply for jobs. This is vitally important in a country with a 24% unemployment rate according to Stats SA. The good news for employers is that SMS can make their recruitment process more streamlined, more efficient, faster and cheaper.
Previously a candidate would have to spend time and money getting online at an internet café, applying for the job online or printing and posting their CVs. They would then have to weigh up the opportunity costs of travelling some distance for an interview for a job that they may or may not get.
On the flipside, companies would get thousands of CVs in differing formats, and have to wade through them in an attempt to sift out the suitable candidates for an interview.
Now, a candidate can simply reply to a short code published in a job advert in a newspaper or elsewhere, and immediately be sent a range of questions via SMS to determine whether or not they are suitable for the role. In a country with 10% internet penetration but with more than 100% mobile penetration, the candidate will definitely have access to a cellphone, even if they don’t own one themselves. This places them on a level footing with candidates anywhere else in the country, it is cheaper for the candidate (and the company) and shortens the interview process.
According to the Gauteng Provincial Government, which has been recruiting via SMS since 2007, its system costs the candidate R7.50 per application, substantially less than the previous system that cost candidates up to R50.
Candidates need to be warned, however, of scammers who use fake job ads to defraud people. Typically they would use a pricey premium rate shortcode in the advert, and then once the candidate has applied via SMS, insist on additional premium rate messages or other payments to proceed. The rule of thumb for candidates is that employers should pick up the bulk of the cost of the application process. They should be sceptical of anyone who demands money upfront, and should always do some research into a company.
SMS recruitment is especially suited to companies needing to hire large numbers of entry-level employees on a regular basis. For instance, Capitec Bank copes with in excess of 60,000 job applications a year using txthire, an SMS recruitment application developed by Graylink. Capitec captures biographical data and minimum requirements via a series of SMS questions. The data is captured in a way that makes it easy to be reviewed and shared with business units using existing back-end tools. The bank said using SMS for recruitment has halved the time it spends on screening candidates and vastly improved its accuracy.
As well as recruiting large numbers of employees, especially in lower LSM ranges, SMS recruitment is ideal for managing a large, mobile, semi-permanent workforce. For instance, Sanctuary Personnel in the UK uses SMS to manage its pool of temporary social workers. Communicating by SMS allows the agency to match vacancies with candidates at short notice, or when they are not in front of a computer.
Similarly, closer to home, Topco, a modelling and talent agency, uses SMS to place talent at short notice or while they are on set and away from their computers.
Companies wanting to incorporate SMS into their recruitment processes can use a PC to SMS messaging application, or turn directly to a mobile messaging aggregator for easy integration with their existing systems.
The bottom line is, both in South Africa and around the world SMS is the only data channel that can level the playing field for job seekers.