Focus on Employee Communications

Avatars in Recruiting Messages: Enhanced Communication or a Desperate Gimmick?

By Sarah Fister Gale

Sep. 12, 2018

Texting may now be the norm for recruiters eager to engage in-demand 20-something job candidates, but does that mean smiley faces and poop emojis are now part of the recruiting message cadence?recruiting messages

According to Aman Brar, they certainly can be. Brar is the CEO of Canvas, a text-based interviewing platform that recently integrated Snap’s Bitmoji Kit into its platform, enabling recruiters and candidates to use avatars and stickers in their interviews and candidate conversations.

“Text as a medium can be very personal, that’s why Bitmojis exist,” Brar said. “Why not extend that personalization to recruiting?”

Unlike generic emojis, Bitmojis let users customize cartoon avatars to look like themselves (or idolized version of themselves), and to send messages emblazoned with fireworks, stars and other expressive elements. Brar believes the Bitmojis will extend the “depth and personality” of text-based recruiting conversations, and help recruiters “humanize” these interactions.

While he doesn’t think Bitmojis belong in every exchange, when sprinkled in they can be a useful way to convey enthusiasm. “It creates a connection between the recruiter and the candidate, and strengthens the communication,” he said.

Scott Sendelweck agreed. The digital marketing manager for Community Health Network in Indianapolis started using Canvas’ Bitmojis in July and found that when recruiters use them judiciously it creates a level of comfort and camaraderie that is difficult to achieve through text alone. “It helps us get a feel for the candidate’s digital personality,” he said. Though he noted they aren’t always appropriate. His team doesn’t use them when they are recruiting physicians or senior staff. For everyone else, they wait and see if the conversation heads in a Bitmoji-friendly direction. “We leave it to the recruiters to decide how they want to engage with candidates,” he said.

The company has no defined process for bringing Bitmojis into the recruiting message interaction, but it typically occurs later on, he said, once recruiters have achieved a level of comfort with the candidate, or if they just want to quickly touch base. For example, a recruiter might send a good luck sticker before a big interview, or a thumbs up if it went well. “It’s another way for us to connect with them.”

To some this might seem like the natural evolution of recruiting, but some industry leaders wonder if Bitmojis have taken the casual nature of recruiting messages too far.

“The question to ask is what is evolution versus de-evolution?” said Kyle Lagunas, research manager for IDC. Lagunas acknowledged that emojis and Bitmojis are helpful to quickly communicate tone or a reaction in a text exchange. “They are fun to use, but you have to know your audience,” he said.

He worries that recruiters may view these clever avatars as a way to make themselves seem more relevant, but that it could easily backfire if candidates feel they are being pandered to. “No matter what channel you communicate through, it has to be intelligent and thoughtful or you run the risk of losing credibility and tarnishing your reputation,” he said.

But Sendelweck isn’t worried. Virtually all of his recruiters are now using Bitmojis, and they are seeing a positive response with candidates of all ages and job types, from early career nurses to middle-age security guards and housekeeping staff.

“The communication we have with them is still formal, but adding Bitmojis helps us connect and convey the culture of our team,” he says. “When you are doing high-volume recruiting, anything that helps to quickly break the ice is a good thing.”

Sarah Fister Gale is a writer in Chicago. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

Sarah Fister Gale is a writer in Chicago.

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