Photo: Markus Winkler

Speaking Emoji: The New Language of Working

Emojis are both a language and a technology. Cultivate’s recent study into just how we use them shows how creatively we’ve adapted to this hybrid form of communication. In just over 20 years, emojis have evolved from the province of teens to an accepted part of business conversation. Influenced heavily by the presence of Gen Z and millennials, emojis have become a standard way to communicate — faster, more effective, and also, enabling us to communicate with more empathy

After 6 months of studying communications over Slack at four enterprise companies — including a total of 83,055 messages that used 101,134 emojis, Cultivate found some interesting trends. 30% of messages used Thumbs Up, while 27% used Mask Face

Emoji usage also differs by company: each has their own visual vocabulary based on company culture. And each generation has their preferences. Baby boomers enjoy receiving business texts with emojis, but only in the right context. Gen X appreciates informal channels like Facebook that can still be written professionally. Clearly, the majority of Gen Y (millennials) are obsessed with emojis and quick, digital-first communications like IMs or DMs. And Gen Z loves video formats, apps and mobile-only approaches with filters and emojis. 

In terms of how we use emojis, 16.3% of ad hoc requests were most typically answered with Thumbs Up, 1.31% with Okay Hand and 1.29% with Coffee.  14.64% of responses to completing tasks were followed by the highest-ranking Thumbs Up emoji and 1.13% were followed by the lowest-ranking Prayer Hands emoji 1.13%. 

The study also found that managers speak their own language: the top five emojis used by managers were different from the top five used by employees. The top emojis used by managers include Thumbs Up (in 4.63% of messages), Clapping (in 1.80%), Party Popper (0.88%), Smiley Face (0.53%), and Heart Eyes (0.39%). The top used team member emojis were Check Mark (in 1.83% of messages), Heart (1.35%), Laughing Crying (1.23%), Eyes (0.64%), and Heavy Plus Sign (0.54%).

Moreover, Cultivate found that managers and employees each tend to stick to the same emojis. As a language, emojis create a sense of connection — no matter the age or rank. And they add a personal touch along with a business personality that sets the tone for the work culture. 

Emojis also offer context to a message by bridging understanding with a reaction/emotion, especially for women, as recent research done by psychologists at Southwestern University found women tend to use twice as many emojis as compared to men. They use more emojis in particular to communicate and express emotions to family, friends and colleagues. Of course it depends on who we’re emoji-ing: you may not want to throw a line of crazy faces to your manager in an email. Then again, it might garner a Thumbs Up.

Slack for Recruiting? You Betcha!

Slack has created a name for itself as a tool for communication, collaboration, and file-sharing amongst team members in a business or organization. But did you know tech-savvy HR directors are jumping ahead of the curve to adopt Slack as a recruiting tool?

Slack interfaces with a host of other messenger and collaboration apps—including Facebook, Twitter, GDrive and Gmail, and Asana—so you can reach out to people where they already are. It allows recruiters to connect with top talent across a variety of networks.

Intrigued? You should be. Let’s start from the beginning—finding candidates via Slack—and then look at some of the apps you can use with Slack to better manage recruiting processes in your organization.

Use Slack Channels to Find Candidates

Slack channels are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn groups. You’ll need an administrator to allow you into the group and, once you’re there, it’s good to spend some time learning the rules and etiquette of that particular channel.

Once you’re “in,” posting questions or reading current posts can be great ways to get to know candidates on a deeper level. Without even looking at a resume, you’re weeding out candidates you feel may not be a good fit in your organization. You might even find that hidden gem who isn’t currently looking for a job—so you might not come across their current resume on another platform—but he or she may be open to a conversation.

Find the Right Slack Channels

It’s important to note that you can search for keywords within communities on Slack, but you can’t search for specific channels. Use Google or websites like to find the most useful channels. You can also keep an eye on Twitter or talk to colleagues for recommendations.

Build a Talent Community and Watch the Candidates Come to You

Of course, you don’t have to rely on hunting down channels. You can create your own community, spreading the word through your other social channels, including LinkedIn and Twitter. Make sure to discuss topics of interest—not just promote your company—and ask questions that will provide insight into the capabilities of group members you might want to approach as prospective hires.

Engage with Other HR Professionals

Whether you’re looking to share tips on leveraging technology in HR, recommendations on the best Slack channels, or even seeking candidates that might be a good fit in your company, you can connect with other HR pros via Slack.

Having all these connections and information in a searchable database can be a bit addicting, so—as with any social media platform—you’ll want to carve out time each day devoted to Slack. However, because the platform is so convenient and you can receive and send messages through other social interfaces, it’s also an excellent way to get immediate answers to questions or answer colleagues or candidates without it interrupting your workday. HR experts who use Slack say it can vastly reduce the number of emails—and we all know what an interruption email can be!

Integrate HR Tools to Streamline Your Hiring Process

Slack currently integrates with 160 apps—all listed in the Slack App Directory—including communication, project management and, most significantly, a number of recruiting and HR-specific apps.

Breezy HR, a Trello-like project management tool for HR, allows you to organize candidates visually. Connect it to Slack to manage the hiring process. Use it to list prospective candidates, resumes to review, or interviews to schedule, for instance.

The Lever app pushes any notifications about individual candidate profiles straight to Slack, saving time and—you guessed it—keeping the process on one easy-to-use platform. The contents of any notes plus the candidate’s overview will automatically go to the private Slack channel you specify, which is great for collaborating with your HR team in real time, wherever they might be.

Blitz brings an under-used recruiting tool—instant messaging and chat—to the HR industry, enabling candidates and HR professionals to communicate seamlessly. By integrating with Slack, Blitz promises to save time and streamline your process by setting up automated pre-screening questions that filter which candidates get into the chat room.

Next Up: AI and Slack?

Imagine coupling a program like Blitz with the real-time ease-of-use of Slack and the capabilities of deep learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. Slack could be working even when you aren’t, to sift through candidates, pinpoint the brightest stars, and filter out poor fits. The capability isn’t there yet, but right now, there are many other ways to use Slack for recruiting. No doubt, as the popularity of the service grows, so will its potential.

photo credit: gminguzzi Slack via photopin (license)