How to Communicate with Blue-Collar Candidates

by Danielle Look in March 21st, 2022
How to Communicate with Blue-Collar Candidates

In today's competitive labor market, speed is crucial to winning candidates. And, unfortunately, no matter how quick you are to get back to applicants, sometimes they just take a long time to get back to you

In this article, we'll cover all the pros and cons of each type of communication channel, since it turns out some are more effective for certain types of messages than others. We’ll also cover crucial points in the hiring process where communication automation can shave days (if not weeks) off of your time to hire. Lastly, we’ve also created some message templates for when applicants won’t respond to you, and how to efficiently keep track of the whole system in one place.

Channels of Communication

Phone

Use it when you need to:

  • reach someone quickly
  • discuss sensitive topics
  • have a long conversation

Phone calls carry a certain amount of urgency, so they can be effective when you need to reach someone quickly. The downside is that most people only pick up phone calls from numbers they have saved in their contacts.

Phone calls are best reserved for long conversations (where there is a lot of back and forth) and/or conversations about sensitive topics (where you don’t want a record of the conversation to fall into the wrong hands). 

PROTIP: If you need to have a phone call with someone, schedule it in advance. People are more likely to pick up a call if it’s expected.

Email

Use it when you need to:

  • include attachments (e.g. for completing paperwork)
  • have a written record of the exchange
  • follow-up on an unsuccessful attempt to reach them on the phone

Many blue-collar workers do not have an email account, or don’t check it regularly if they do have an account. For this reason, we recommend limiting email interactions with candidates.

Email is most effective for sending and receiving paperwork, such as tax documents, job offers and other onboarding materials. Email is also ideal for communications that may need to be proven to have happened, such as performance warnings or notice of policy changes. Lastly, if you unsuccessfully attempted to reach someone by phone, following up via email is always appropriate. 

Text Message

Use it when you need to:

  • establish contact with someone for the first time
  • receive or send short/quick information, such as a clock-out time or preferred shirt size
  • communicate timely information to employees on a different shift, in the field, or at a different facility

Text message is the best communication channel when you’re trying to reach someone for the first time because you can explain who you are, why you’re trying to reach them, and what you need from them. And they’re almost guaranteed to see the message, since Americans check their phones 96 times a day. (That’s once every 10 minutes!)

Text messages are also less invasive than a phone call, and easier to respond to in almost any situation. That’s why it’s the best avenue when you have short, easy questions for employees and need a quick reply, or if you need to communicate timely information to them right away.

(And if you're worried about your older employees adopting the technology, don't be, because 83% of them already have.)

Paper

Use it when you need to:

  • communicate with employees who can’t be reached by phone, email or text message
  • reinforce communications already distributed by phone, email or text message
  • provide hard copies for personal records 

Paper communications should be used mostly as a last resort—as a failsafe to digital communications, or when required by law. Paper is often lost or destroyed, and can easily fall into the wrong hands. For these reasons, digital communication is almost always preferred by job-seekers.

In-Person

Use it when you need to:

  • Interview candidates
  • Introduce candidates to staff
  • Give tours of your facility

Nothing beats in-person communication with candidates. Speaking with someone in person allows you to read body language, see facial expressions, and have authentic exchanges as you attempt to gauge the candidate’s soft skills. That’s why interviewing should always happen in person. If you can’t meet with the candidate in person, arrange for a Zoom or Face Time call. 

Communicating in the Hiring Process

Communication is what keeps applicants moving through the hiring funnel. To successfully hire the volume of blue-collar workers you need, it’s crucial that you reach out to applicants quickly and keep them in the loop through every step in the process. 

Respond to application submissions ASAP

Candidates want to know that their application is being considered. If you don't respond right away, they may think you've moved on to other applicants, and will therefore move on to other jobs. It's important to let candidates know that you have received their application, and to follow-up with an open-ended question such as, “Why do you want to work at our company?” This shows the candidate that you're interested in hiring them and that you're taking the time to learn more about them, while also gauging their interest in the company.

Clarify any required experience or licensing early on

If an applicant has indicated that they do not have the required experience, certifications and/or licenses for a position, you may want to reach out to them to ask what their plan is for acquiring these. If they simply forgot to include the information, this allows them the grace to provide that information to you. But, if they truly do not have the requirements, their plan for acquiring them could give you a peek into their problem-solving skills. This can also help you determine if the applicant is still interested in the position.

Confirm & remind candidates about interviews

Once you decide on a date and time for the interview, send them a confirmation restating the date, time and location you agreed upon. Include a Google Maps link to your location if it’s hard to find. Send the confirmation to all channels of contact you have available - ideally via email, text message, and phone call or voicemail.

Then, make sure you send at least one more round of interview confirmations the day before the interview, but it’s not overkill to do it again the day of the interview. It only shows the applicant you’re engaged and interested, and prevents them from wasting your time by not showing up for the interview.

Provide interview feedback quickly

Less than 4% of candidates get feedback about an interview within a day, while 37% and 44% hear back within a week or a couple weeks. That presents a huge opportunity for you to stand out from the competition by being first to get in touch. In fact, if you’re ready to hire the candidate by the end of the interview, make an offer on the spot. Don’t risk letting them get away by allowing them to walk out the door unsure of where they stand with you. 

What to do if the applicant doesn’t respond

Text messaging is the best method for initial outreach with a job applicant, since many blue-collar job-seekers don’t have an email address, and most are simply more comfortable communicating via text message. Text messages also have a 98% chance of being opened, so always start there.

You might have your own personal preferences about how frequently to follow up and when to move on, but here are a few general guidelines if you’re designing (or redesigning) your process:

First follow-up: 12 - 24 hours after initial outreach

Hi, [name]. This is [your name] from [your company]. Just wanted to check in and see if you were still interested in the [job title] role? Thanks & hope to hear from you soon!

Second follow-up: 3 days after initial outreach

Hi, [name]. This is [your name] again. Please let me know right away if you’re still interested in the [job title] role. I’d like to schedule an interview with you, but I’ll be moving on to other candidates if I don’t hear from you soon.

Third follow-up: 4 days after initial outreach

Hi, [name]. This is [your name] at [company] again. This is your last chance to let me know if you’re still interested. If I don’t hear from you today, I’ll be archiving your application and moving on to other candidates. If you change your mind and would like to interview with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me by texting this number, or calling xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thanks!

How to keep track of all communications

If you’re following industry best practices for candidate sourcing, then you have applications coming in from all over the place: Indeed, Zip Recruiter, social media, Craigslist, employee referrals, your company’s website, and maybe even walk-ups. You’re going to need a centralized system for tracking everyone who applies, and we’re here to tell you: a spreadsheet just won’t cut it.

Not only is it difficult to capture all the pertinent information needed to accurately track candidates on a spreadsheet, it’s even more tedious to keep it updated. That’s why you’ll need some kind of applicant tracking software—ideally, one that’s built into your recruiting platform—to log communication, contact information, and which phase of the process each candidate is in. Many programs update all of this automatically, so all you have to do is focus on finding the right people for the job.

PROTIP: Whatever system or software you use for applicant tracking, make sure you take good notes on the candidates and organize them in a way that you can pull up relevant archived applicants archived when future positions open up. 

Automate wherever possible

Sixty-seven percent of global recruiters say the key benefit of automation is saving time, so if you're looking to streamline the hiring process, automate as much communication with candidates as possible. This can help keep the process moving forward and ensure that everyone is kept in the loop.

For starters, you can use automation software to gauge how responsive a candidate is. If they don't respond to your initial automated outreach, you can quickly move on to other candidates. Additionally, automation can be used to check for any required licenses or certifications, or to clarify questions about their previous experience.

As the candidate progresses through the hiring process, automation can also simplify and speed up interview scheduling.  Scheduling software like Calendly can eliminate the back-and-fourth of agreeing on a time that works for everyone, while hiring solutions like Team Engine can automate interview confirmations and reminders.


At the end of the day, nothing beats in-person communication with candidates, but it isn't always possible in fast-paced labor industries that run all hours of the day.

That's why the next best thing for communicating with blue-collar staff is a text message because it's quick, easy, and efficient. To really maximize your recruiting effort, automate those texts for the repetitive parts of the process—like initiating contact and scheduling interviews. That way, you’ll have the candidate scheduled for an interview before most companies will have even looked at their application.

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