Seekers Go Mobile While Employers Lag Behind

If you haven’t invested in mobile recruiting yet, time is running out.

Only 7 percent of corporate career sites are optimized for mobile devices, according to a Potentialpark survey. However, 19 percent of job seekers reported using their mobile device for career activities; 50 percent “could imagine” themselves doing so.

The usage data comes from Potentialpark’s massive annual global survey of students, graduates, and early career professionals. It’s Online Talent Communication Study was completed in June and now, with the 2012 survey underway, the recruitment marketing and research firm says the number of mobile job seekers is already showing “a significant rise.”

“Job seekers are using their mobile devices for job search whether employers like it or not,” explained Julian Ziesing, a spokeman for Potentialpark. “Much like the employer brand, refusing to create a mobile recruiting strategy doesn’t stop employers from having one. It simply becomes one they don’t control.”

Internet-accessible mobile devices can connect to most career sites, whether or not they are mobile-optimized. However, if you’ve ever tried to search for a job on a typical corporate career site, you quickly discovered that it is clunky at best, and at worst, some or all of the search features don’t work. Even where you can search, applying for a job from a mobile device may be impossible.

That becomes a major hurdle for mobile using job seekers, 30 percent of whom say they want to be able to apply for a job while on the go. More important to the mobile job seekers is the ability to search for jobs (57 percent) and get notified of openings (51 percent).

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The latter is one of the few things companies can do almost painlessly. All but the most basic career sites allow users to opt-in for email notifications of jobs matching their interests. Far fewer send text messages. But here’s where a mobile strategy would suggest text over email. Text messages have a read rate approaching 100 percent. The open rate for emails on mobile devices may be no better than 30 percent, though the data is fuzzy.

Says the Potentialpark report:

Having a well implemented mobile recruiting strategy can greatly improve the overall candidate experience — giving the job seeker a convenient and location-independent approach to job search, and (2) not having any mobile recruiting strategy can erode the employer brand and limit the number of quality applicants received overall.

That said, recruiting consultant and blogger John Sumser has a wholly different and contrarian opinion about mobile recruiting:

Mobile Recruiting is a great way to engineer a flood of ill considered applications that are of lower quality that people are already complaining about? Why? The tool (a phone) is ill suited for the rigors of job hunting. Research is impractical. Cover letters would have to include apologies for the implicit typos.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


15 Comments on “Seekers Go Mobile While Employers Lag Behind

  1. John,

    I have a real hard time believing this data. While the industry requires we vendors offer mobile solutions, I do not see applicants submitting a full resume over mobile without first sitting at a computer to review what they are about to submit. We have found that there comes a point, usually tied to the amount of information being sent, that makes mobile just to prohibitive.

    I tend to agree with Sumser’s quote.

    Mike Brandt
    BrightMove Recruiting Software

  2. Thanks for the info, John. I certainly believe it. To Mike’s point, I agree – many candidates are unlikely going to submit a full employment app via their mobile. We usually advise iCIMS clients to optimize their mobile portals with a shortened/mini-submission for mobile interest and then requesting more info from the candidate later in the process.

    Susan Vitale, CSO
    iCIMS Applicant Tracking System

  3. I would agree that candidates are more interested in searching for jobs on a mobile device than to actually apply. That may change when iPads and related devices become commonplace for everyone. We send out our daily job postings via Twitter and provide the requisition number. I’ll invest in Mobile recruiting when it becomes more practical to write a cover letter and download a resume via a mobile device.

  4. Keith-I know of one company in particular working on that issue.

    Then there is the “Cloud Computing” aspect as well. A candidate can prepare their docs and make minor edit changes and send resumes and cover letters as needed from their mobile device.

    Either way mobile isn’t going away.

  5. Thanks, Mike. So far the recruiting apps I’ve seen would let a recruiter work in a pinch until they get to a bigger screen, but it’s not something you’d want to work on all day long. Maybe you need a tablet for that….Has anybody come up with a recruiting suite for an iPad yet? My point is that it’s more interesting for me to find out where/how I can work on things than where/how candidates send them from….

    From a candidate’s perspective, I’d want a mobile-ready site where all I’d have to do is finger-drag my resume over the “active” area of the site, and it would take my resume and I’d have applied- no muss, no fuss…


  6. Sorry for the typos everyone.

    The tough part in developing mobile applications for iPad versus Droid versus any other is really the languages we have to use. Adobe offers the most promise to date with Flash Builder 4.5 allowing for native deployment on most stnadard platforms but then Adobe just announced a move away from mobile.

    You essentially need an Objective-C development team for Apple products and a whole nother team for Droid products.

  7. A client actually just forwarded this article to me, saying: “Hi Nik, I saw this article today and thought I would share it with you. Do you think SmartRecruiters will eventually make it so our career pages can be mobile friendly?”

    She hadn’t seen our latest Release notes, detailing the new Mobile Version of her Career Site:

    Starting last week, all SmartRecruiters clients automatically received a mobile version of their Career Site. The stylesheet automatically adjusts for viewing like a Facebook newsfeed, and candidates can even easily apply using their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles.

    The growth of internet use on mobile phones is not slowing anytime soon. How will that change mobile recruiting? Let’s see… But we do believe in opening all channels where candidates are.

    Nik Hristov, Service Manager at SmartRecruiters

  8. Smartphone adoption rates are set to continue to rise I don’t think any industry can ignore mobile! Its about meeting the demands of your target audience and adapting to their behaviour

  9. @Helen,

    No one argues the growth of mobile technology but my point is that there are going to always be certain functions that will not be widely adopted because of lack of convenience. People use their mobile devices because they are convenient. The moment the task ceases to be better served on the device becomes the moment they will be turned off by the idea and will go back to a tool more sensible to accomplish the task. Resume writing and applying will always or at least for the forseeable future will be better managed via a keyboard and mouse.

    Mike Brandt
    BrightMove Recruiting Software

  10. While I don’t disagree that applying via a mobile device is clunky and not the best tool for the job (for now), I think John Sumser ignores the fact that a mobile site is not really for garnering applications, it is for peaking candidate interest. If a candidate is strolling my mobile site while out at lunch (or whereever) and can easily email a job to themselves to apply via desktop, I call that a function well performed. So for me, the mobile site exists to perform an entirely different function than the desktop site. Will it sometimes lead to “ill considered applications”? Yes, but not a flood, imo.

  11. @Ryann: How much effort (people, time, money) do you want to spend on getting “strollers”? As I replied earlier today on another article, before a company invests in new technology, it should seek to make sure that “tried and true methods” (ER Programs, good websites with quick and efficient job location/application, streamlined and applicant-friendly hiring processes, etc.) are working properly. As some of our folks probably said: “When you straighten up your room and keep it tidy for a while, then we can think about you getting some new toys.”


    Keith “Recruiters ‘R Us” Halperin

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