Texting, texting, 1, 2, 3

Recently, I received an email from a colleague who said a hiring manager from a large, somewhat conservative company, texted her the information on her interview. She responded via email because she thought texting him back would be too informal. She emailed me to ask if that was the correct thing to do. I responded it was.

Normally, it is proper etiquette to respond the same way someone contacts you, but in the case of a potential employer, I don’t think it’s ever proper to text. It’s simply too casual. Further, I don’t think it’s acceptable for a potential employer to send a text message to a candidate. It would make me wonder how professional the organization is if they are texting a candidate about a job.

Another friend of mine received a text from someone inviting him to a play as his guest. My friend said he didn’t recognize the phone number and the texter did not sign his name. My friend didn’t know if it was spam or if it was legitimate. He didn’t know if he should respond or not. It turns out the invitation came from someone he knew, but not very well and it was awkward having to ask who the sender was.

Texting is very informal and intrusive. It’s similar to instant messaging, and therefore it’s not the best medium for more formal correspondence such as when communicating with someone you don’t know well, invitations and business communication.

My rule for texting is that you should know the person well, the person is not a client, boss or potential employer, and you should know if she or he is okay with getting texts. Not everyone has a texting plan nor can accept texts. I used to be one of those people. Every time someone would text me I was charged for it.

Think twice before you text someone. If it seems too casual for the message you’re communicating or for the recipient then send the message via another medium – email or phone.

What are your thoughts on texting? When do you think it’s not appropriate to text someone, if ever? Are you comfortable receiving texts from people you don’t know well? Do you think it was appropriate for the company to text the interview information to my colleague?


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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. JudyDunn on October 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Hey Arden,

    I am not a big fan of texting overall because I think it’s too impersonal. My husband and biz partner is out and about a lot and uses it for brief spurts of communication with friends and colleagues he knows well, so I agree with you on that one.

    Was a time with us, too, where our plan didn’t include texting and it was especially aggravating getting spam messages by text because we had to pay for them. I would love to see a little more civility in this high-tech world of ours. Everyone seems too busy to pu time and effort into their messages.

    Thanks for this. You gave me something to think about.

  2. ArdenClise on October 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Hi @JudyDunn , thanks for commenting. Yes, texting is very impersonal and can be invasive and as you said, costly for those who don’t have a texting plan. I agree that even with texting we should still write full sentences and proper grammar. Texting seems to give us an excuse to be sloppy, that’s why I don’t think it’s the best medium to communicate professionally or about more formal matters.

  3. sarah on April 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    A potential volunteer submitted an application with our company within the last month. I admit that I haven’t been the most timely in responding to his application, which stems  from not knowing if we could place him with a volunteer opportunity. However, a few days ago, he texted me the following: “Hey this is ***** havent heard from u hows it goin did i miss a call”. I don’t even know how to respond to this. We weren’t sure if we had a position for him, but now I’m certain he’s not the a good fit for our program. I was planning to e-mail him as much, but wondered if I should address the impropriety of texting me? Any advice?

  4. ArdenClise on April 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Sarah, my gut response when I saw your question was to say tell him he didn’t get selected but don’t go into detail about why unless he asked. I posted the question to my Facebook page to get other’s opinions. A law professor shaunjamison , stated to avoid a lawsuit don’t tell the candidate why he didn’t get the position unless he asks why. So, I feel comfortable with what my gut told me.
    It’s tempting to want to educate a young person, but in a work situation it’s best not too unless they ask for the feedback.
    Good luck. Thanks for writing.

  5. JD Brennan on July 21, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I think the world is changing. If I were hiring a twenty-something, I think asking them if I could text them the details on the interview would be perfectly appropriate. I do think it’s important to ask someone you don’t know well if it’s okay to text them.

  6. JD Brennan on July 21, 2018 at 9:49 am

    How about a post about good ways to reject candidates? I like to give feedback to help the candidates, but it does seem to open my employer to certain risks. I’m curious how the risks are different if the candidate asks for feedback.

  7. Arden Clise on July 29, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Great idea JD, although there would probably be some HR details I’d have to research.

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