What's the deal with WhatsApp?

The mobile messaging app WhatsApp passed its 1bn user milestone earlier this year but many recruiters still see it as a tool used by the younger generation.

Sat, 1 October 2016 | By Sue Weekes

FROM OCTOBER'S RECRUITER MAGAZINE

Ignore the messaging app and miss out on new contacts

What's the deal with WhatsApp?

The mobile messaging app WhatsApp passed its 1bn user milestone earlier this year but many recruiters still see it as a tool used by the younger generation. As well as being free to download, it uses the phone’s internet connection so you don’t have to pay for exchanging text messages or sharing images and video (see box-out, below). Hence, teenagers restricted by their mobile plan’s data limits love it. But with smartphones one of the most important tools in a recruiter’s armoury, and in many cases the preferred communications vehicle for the candidate, any app that enjoys such ubiquity should be exploited by recruiters for contacting and building relationships.

Reaching out to candidates

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption, which means messages, images, videos and voice files sent are secure and can only be seen by the recipient. This makes it appealing for candidates who want to keep their communication with a recruiter private. A desktop version of the app (WhatsApp Web) is also available that acts as an extension of your phone and mirrors conversations and messages from your phone so you can continue or pick-up the chat on your desktop machine.

A personal and private channel

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption, which means messages, images, videos and voice files sent are secure and can only be seen by the recipient. This makes it appealing for candidates who want to keep their communication with a recruiter private. A desktop version of the app (WhatsApp Web) is also available that acts as an extension of your phone and mirrors conversations and messages from your phone so you can continue or pick-up the chat on your desktop machine. 

Timely and convenient messaging

As well as reaching out to engage with possible prospects, WhatsApp is ideal for building the relationship further via ongoing communication and getting quick answers to questions. “Since mobile users are connected to their devices from early morning until late at night, it’s also a perfect tool for global recruiters to get answers to time-sensitive questions from candidates in different time-zones,” says Pratt, who adds the app also has applications for onboarding. “There could be a month-long gap between when the new employee is hired and when they actually start. There’s no reason why they can’t get to know the people that they’re going to be working with during this time. Add them to a private company WhatsApp group to join in the conversation as soon as they’re hired.

Information exchange

While some recruiters have been slow to exploit WhatsApp’s benefits for contacting candidates, they are using it to engage with colleagues and other recruiters. You can set up group chats on a particular subject such as hiring trends, skills shortages and even using social media in recruitment. As well as providing a platform to facilitate an exchange of views and ideas, this can help build your profile in the company and/or recruitment community and form part of your personal networking strategy.

Remain professional

While WhatsApp can be an informal way for a recruiter to communicate, maintain a level of professionalism at all times. “If you expect candidates to answer questions in a timely manner, be sure to be ready to answer their questions to you in a timely manner,” says Pratt, who also warns that some candidates may consider the use of WhatsApp by recruiters to contact them as an invasion of personal privacy. Apply the same caution and sensitivity as you would when using any social media channel. If a candidate doesn’t want to engage with you on it, respect their wishes. Pratt also advises monitoring any group chats you set up for any untoward behaviour such as bullying. Hopefully, this won’t arise, but it is important to be aware of potential issues and take responsibility for guarding against them.


What's Whatsapp?

WhatsApp is a mobile app that allows users to exchange text messages, voice, images and video. It uses the same internet data plan that your phone uses for web browsing, so as long as you are connected to free wi-fi, your carrier company shouldn’t charge you anything. Check the WhatsApp website for full details and compatibility with your mobile phone.

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