Mobility

CBP job applicants sign up for text messages

text messager

SMS messages can make the federal job application process less frustrating by providing immediate updates and reminders, CBP says. (Stock image)

A six-month-old SMS text messaging program implemented to keep U.S. Customs and Border Protection in better touch with job applicants is transforming the hiring process, according to the agency’s Office of Human Resources Management.

Beginning with its entry-level Border Patrol Agent job opportunity announcements on Feb. 20 and as part of the agency’s online application process, the new system allows CBP job applicants to receive SMS text messages on their mobile device as they progress through the selection process. Of the first 1,000 applicants offered the choice, according to a June 27 statement on HRM’s web page, 343 opted to receive the messages. Applicants can choose to receive or opt out of receiving text messages at any time during the selection process by contacting CBP’s Minneapolis Hiring Center.

With the increasing popularity of mobile phones and tablets, CBP said, SMS capabilities provide the opportunity to connect with the growing number of people who actively use text messaging. CBP officials declined to detail the cost of implementing the new system, but said the agency was pleased with the investment. They stressed that SMS is more familiar to younger applicants than the phone or e-mail as their primary means of communicating, and is often given greater attention than voicemail or other electronic messages.

HRM said it has been using several pre-programmed SMS text message templates, 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 the department with the capability to create and send more personalized messages when needed.

SMS text messaging, said the agency, helps 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. It also expects SMS use to boost applicant flow and retention in the process, allowing reductions to overall applicant processing time and costs. HRM said it 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.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1986, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Mon, Jul 8, 2013

What ever happened to personal responsibility and being able to complete a job application per the stated rules? Now you have to handhold a job applicant who relies on text messages to function to ensure he/she/it gets all the steps done correctly? Wonder, if they get hired, will they also need periodic reminders to get the job done correctly too?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group