Using text messaging as a communication tool in hiring might be practical, but remember that writing leaves an impression.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal said some companies are turning to texting to communicate with prospects, because it is more convenient for the candidates, particularly millennials, and more efficient for recruiters, who can juggle several conversations simultaneously. Texting is a great tool, but professionalism still counts.

The Journal article cites one message exchange that began with this note from the CEO of Canvas Talent, a recruiting service: Hi Kelly Happy Monday … would like to get to know you via text-don’t stress if you have delays in your response! 🙂 I know you have a lot on your plate.

That sounds like a CEO who was trying too hard to fit in. It’s always important to connect with your audience, but not at the expense of good judgment. Think about the context in which you are writing. If the goal is to attract candidates, writing like a teenager might not leave the right impression. In the example above, her name is not Kelly Happy Monday, and why the smiley face? The candidate’s response was professional and carefully written, which probably embarrassed the CEO.

Canvas Talent is not the hiring companyit’s only a recruiting agency. But it might be representing a client whose executives would not write that type of a text message to a prospect.

No one expects a text message to be literary prose or to be grammatically flawless (although it can be), but a writer should consider the situation. Maybe it makes sense not to be conspicuously sloppy.

It’s similar to when we decide what to wear for a meeting with a client or a presentation. Is a coat and tie appropriate? Is a dress necessary or will slacks be acceptable? The answer is to dress the way the audience expects you to dress. Just because you are speaking to people dressed in bluejeans, T-shirts, and running shoes doesn’t mean you will impress them if you show up in similar attire.

Ken O’Quinn is a professional writing coach and former Associated Press writer who conducts corporate workshops on business writing, persuasive writing, and corporate communications writing. He is the author of Perfect Phrases for Business Letters (McGraw-Hill), which is available here at

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