According to a study published by the Pew Internet Project last fall, 81% of cell phone owners use their phones to send or receive text messages. For a lot of people, texting has virtually replaced calling, even when it comes to communicating with family and close friends.
So it only stands to reason that texting is being used to a greater and greater extent by hiring managers and their prospective employees as well. But if you’re on the “prospective employee” end of the conversation, there are some things you need to know—
Spelling and grammar count: All those shortcuts and acronyms you use in your daily texts with your buddies (LOL, OMG, etc.) have no place here. Text potential employers using the same writing standards you would apply to a cover letter or resume: complete sentences, correct spelling, and no acronyms unless they are job related (PFTs, COPD, ARDS, etc., are okay). Watch out for autocorrect too—that means carefully proofreading your text before you hit “send.”
Leave emotion out of it, and don’t get personal: Don’t add happy faces to your texts or otherwise indicate how you are feeling about things. Don’t get off topic either. The hiring manager doesn’t really care whether you’re going to the big game this weekend or not. Keep it professional at all times.
Enthusiasm for the job is okay: While you don’t want to get too chatty or overly friendly, it is fine—and indeed, even advisable—to let the hiring manager know you are excited about the position and looking forward to joining the team. Comments like “I’m excited to learn more about your disease management program” or “Your involvement in the ER certainly piqued my interest” show engagement in the position.
Keep it short (but don’t be afraid to convey your message): Texting is so great because it generally encourages people to get to the point and not waste their counterpart’s time. So limit your texts to a sentence or two apiece and don’t send too many in a row. But if you have something to say you think the manager should hear—for example, “About 80% of the therapy at my last position was delivered via RT protocols, so I think I would be a good fit for your move to protocol-directed care”—be sure to share it.
Stick with the conversation: Once you start texting with a prospective employer, monitor incoming texts and continue to reply as long as you feel the employer wants to keep talking. That can be a little tricky—you don’t want to keep the person longer than she would like but you don’t want to cut her off either—so just use your best judgment as to when the conversation is over. Hint: getting a text that says “Thanks, we’ll be in touch” is a good indication it’s time to quit.