The Office of Human Resources Management (HRM) has undertaken several recent initiatives to use popular technologies to engage, provide information, and stay connected with prospective candidates, applicants, and selectees for CBP's frontline law enforcement positions. These efforts include the use of social media, e-mail messages, podcasts, and webinars, and now Short Messaging Service (SMS) text messaging.
Beginning with the February 20, 2013 entry-level Border Patrol Agent job opportunity announcement, as part of the online application process, applicants were able to select whether they wanted to receive SMS text messages on their mobile device as they progress through the selection process. Of the first 1,000 applicants offered this choice, 343 opted to receive the messages. Applicants may choose to receive, or to opt out from receiving, text messages at any time during the selection process by contacting the Minneapolis Hiring Center.
With the increasing popularity of mobile phones and tablets, SMS provides CBP the ability to connect with the growing number of people who actively send and receive text messages. For many, including a new "thumb generation" of texters, SMS has replaced talking on the phone or e-mail as their primary means of communicating. Through SMS, text messages are delivered almost instantly to an individual's mobile device, and although short, are often given greater attention than voicemail or e-mail messages.
SMS messaging provides CBP an additional way to quickly reach applicants, wherever they might be: in college, at home, at work, or elsewhere. Through the use of several pre-programmed SMS text message templates, HRM is reminding applicants of pending deadlines for required forms or documents, as well as the date and time of their upcoming medical and fitness examinations and interviews. SMS also provides HRM the capability to create and send more personalized messages when needed.
SMS text messaging will help promote timely responses to document deadlines, reduce the number of missed appointments, and increase applicant satisfaction with the hiring process by creating a higher sense of engagement and awareness of processing requirements. The use of SMS is also expected to boost applicant flow and retention in the process, which will allow HRM to reduce overall applicant processing time and costs. HRM is monitoring the impact of SMS and planning additional uses for text-based communication, such as providing notification of important changes in an applicant's status.