Time Spent Creating Mobile Recruiting Applications Is Time Wasted

The use of the Internet with a smartphone is fast becoming the next mass media channel. That’s particular true with social media such as Facebook. Recents statistics from a company called comScore show the mobile Internet audience is using Facebook nearly an hour more a month than they’re using it on a desktop.

Facebook mobile users have a choice of downloading an application, or using the mobile Facebook. Eighty percent of mobile Facebook users use the application. With Twitter, users prefer the application, too. This data has confused many industry commentators, with many bloggers writing that applications are “winning the battle.” This interpretation is wrong.

Unfortunately such mistaken onlookers have driven many talent acquisition directors to ask me if they should develop a mobile recruiting application and forget about optimizing their mobile websites. After all, a mobile social media application, downloaded from Google Play or Apple AppStore, offers us a better experience so we can more easily enjoy and interact with social media.

On the contrary: your mobile recruiting strategies should have nothing more important than offering your candidates an optimized mobile website. Here’s why.

Facebook, Twitter, etc. are channels. We all “browse” media through these social channels. The people and businesses we follow within social channels curate web content, which we discover and consume. The Twitter and Facebook apps are our preferred window to consume the web; not only do these apps direct us to new content, they fetch it and display it for us in one place.

Frequently we click links on Twitter from our mobile app. The webpage loads in our Twitter app. We do not take the URL and open a web browser and read the content. Social channels are the true “browsers.” We do not have to search or have a pre-conceived idea of what we are looking for. Instead we browse the social channel and when we see something we like, we order up more content by tapping the hyperlink.

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Empowered with the knowledge that Twitter and Facebook apps on our mobile are the new browser, and knowing the enormous volume of users and time spent consuming these channels, what do you feel matters when it comes to mobile recruiting optimization? As recruiters wishing to reach a market it is very simple: a mobile-optimized career site/recruitment campaign coupled with social media activity puts your message in front the audience.

Check out the top mobile native apps: Instagram, Angry Birds, Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, etc. As a user I expect to return to these apps frequently either for fun or social interaction or new content. Looking for a new job at a single company is not a repeat process. The effort and reward of downloading an app to work at just one company does not add up. The native app will attract downloads from those doing additional research, those really interested in your firm, but these people have probably already applied for a job. Unless your employer brand creates incredible hunger and has millions of people desperate to work for you, an app in AppStore or Android is unlikely to deliver high ROI when it comes to talent attraction.

The mobile site is becoming a must-have for candidate marketing. The mobile application is typically better positioned to assist the selection and onboarding process.

Dave Martin, CTO and founder of Three Sparks Global, has over 13 years experience covering online technology and online commercial strategy. More recently he has been an evangelist keynote speaker focusing on rapid growth of mobile internet. His expert experience and knowledge spans across social media, online recruitment, mobile applications, mobile market, mobile business, web business models, strategic delivery, project management, product development, product launch, and business development. He recognizes the shape of the Internet in the future and cares about products supporting individuals and companies in a hybrid online world of mobile and desktop. He is a leading mobile Internet expert with the strategic and hands-on project experience to drive online business forwards into the next decade of media consumption.


48 Comments on “Time Spent Creating Mobile Recruiting Applications Is Time Wasted

  1. Well said, Dave. I could not agree with you more here. Many companies fail to realize that they have an existing mobile career site audience that is being forced to experience a desktop career site on the mobile web. It happens everyday across the world and in many cases, this is a missed opportunity on both sides. This is an audience that companies could immediately engage with via a mobile career site and salvage existing visitors with a great user experience. Not to mention, a mobile careers site can be found through search engines versus an app store. I think your company’s chances to be found on Google or Bing versus Apple’s app store or Blackberry AppWorld are significantly higher. Let’s not forget the importance of the redirect code that sends mobile browser visitors from your careers link on your desktop career site to the one for mobile, as this is critical. Without this, initially it would be like putting your store in the middle of the woods and hoping someone stops in to buy something versus putting it in a mall where everyone is already shopping.

    I do think there are some instances where the mobile careers app will work and makes sense. For example, staffing or recruiting firms that sometimes hire the same people 2 or 3 times a year for project or contract work. An app would allow for a continuous connection with the employees and prospective employees for a staffing company. It could make the courting process more streamlined for the recruitment team as well. An app allows for additional functionality that makes sense for a staffing firm, like alerts. At the drop of a hat, a staffing firm could get a call and find out that they need to hire 50 people in 4 days. With an app, the could send a push notification or alert making their entire following (those that have the app downloaded) aware of this opportunity and invite those interested to reach out to their recruiter to discuss. This helps both sides as there is speed and instead of outgoing calls to candidates, the recruitment team can field incoming calls to close out the reqs.

    Really glad to see this article, well done.

  2. Bang on the money. IMHO, a reason for repeat visits is needed – once I apply to a company, that’s me done. Existing mobile recruitment apps don’t help past that, so it’s a one-hit wonder. I see the value of mobile apps for job boards, or indeed for ongoing application process support, but for end clients? Nah. Many things they’d be far better advised to spend time and resources on.

  3. I totally agree Dave. In fact I’d go further and suggest that native apps for not only employers should be a low priority, but also for recruitment agencies, and even job boards, as they can only provide access to a fraction of available jobs.

    Moreover, a link from say Twitter or Facebook to a shared vacancy advert will always open in a mobile browser, and won’t launch the native installed app. (I know it can be done, but is pretty tricky to do so).

  4. Bravo. Most of these apps remind me of the mostly long forgotten days of AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve and their proprietary content areas where users would dial-up and either use those areas or “go to the Internet.” As more ventured out of the comfort zones and experienced the wide range of content and offerings on the real Internet, fewer wanted to stay boxed into the AOL etc. environments.

    Every organization seems to think that its content and offerings are different and that job candidates will want to do nothing more than spend several minutes downloading a job search app and furthering cluttering up their phones, using the app once, and then apparently deleting it. What garbage. Job seekers like recruiters want efficiency and effectiveness and that means a fully functional mobile site that can accessed instantly AND which allows them to apply to a job using their smartphones.

    Very, very few organizations have figured out that second step because they almost all seem to be locked into this mindset that you can’t have a job applicant without a resume. Wrong. Resumes are actually a very recent phenomenon and could easily be replaced for most positions with drop downs that would create a profile with enough information for the recruiter to know whether the candidate meets the basic requirements. If the candidate does, then the recruiter can ask for more formal documentation and that could include a traditional resume.

  5. I don’t totally agree. For generating applicant flow for current openings David is right. All that is necessary for a transactional relationship with a candidate designed to create an immediate response is an optimized mobile website.

    But if you want certain candidates to aspire to one day join your company and in the meantime follow your company easily from a mobile device, you want an app. Or really to put it in the proper perspective of “follow your candidate”, your candidate will want an app with relevant content for a current job search as well as consistently updated information about the specific company, their industry and skill-sets which support the industry.

    Furthermore, the effort and investment made into an app, not only supports external employment communications, but more importantly, with password-protected areas, facilitates internal employee communications.

    Additionally, to consider mobile strategies for smartphones is practical for 2012. But for moving forward with tactics and strategies for enhancing external and internal employment-related communications, mobile platforms maximizing the potential of tablets should be considered, if not for the short-term, for the long-term.

  6. I don’t totally agree here. Mobile native apps are the solution for engaging the jobseekers and to build a talent community. There are lots of scenarios where an the app makes sense. Take a nurse working in NewYork. His/Her options to change jobs are only 3 other hospitals in the area. In this case he/she will download app. You have to look at jobseekers, who don’t sit in front of computers all day. Every enterprise has to look at their talent needs and understand their jobseekers, then make a decision. There is no one size fit all solutions, we are moving from web to mobile. We have to think mobile not web.

  7. Dave, great article and couldn’t agree more. It’s safe to assume that as a job seeker you are applying to positions at multiple companies. Because of this, there would be nothing worse then having to download an iPhone App for every single company you wanted to put in an application with.

    Your candidates are searching for your career site on their mobile phone, that’s a fact. It’s time to spend the money on making your sites mobile optimized, fully capable of accepting resumes and all ATS required questions.

  8. How about an app that works like this:
    1) You upload your resume, profile, portfolio, whatever to your mobile.
    2) You say to your mobile: “*Siri, go to Facebook.com and apply for job.”
    3) The Smart ATS takes it from there, and you get a confirmation (texted, emailed, aural).
    4) Rinse and repeat.

    Why can’t applying for a job be as easy as that?



    *Or “Siri, go to ‘Previously compiled list of 500 companies’ and apply for job.” or
    “Siri, send VM to ‘Previously compiled list of 500 identified LinkedIn contacts’ and follow up with resumes/profiles/portfolios.”

  9. Hmmm. How about an app that works like this?:
    1) You upload your resume, profile, portfolio, etc. to your mobile.
    2) You say *”Siri, go to Facebook.com and apply for job”.
    3) The Smart ATS takes it from there, and you get a confirmation.
    4) Rinse and repeat.

    Why can’t applying for jobs be as easy as that?



    *Or “”Siri, go to ‘Previously compiled list of 500 companies’ and apply for job.”

    Or “”Siri, go to ‘Previously compiled list of 500 LinkedIn contacts’ send VM #4 and follow up with resume/profile/portfolio.”

  10. Aren’t there 2 questions to be answered? This article asks the question “Should I develop a mobile recruiting application”, but appears to answer the question “Should I build a mobile job seeking app.” I tend to agree with Dave on the latter. But, I think the jury is still out on whether a mobile recruiting app is of value. Wouldn’t recruiters benefit from a “job applicant channel” where qualified applicants for hard to fill jobs were being pushed to them the moment they apply, or important feedback from hiring managers (“We need to make this person an offer now!”) was available in a timely manner, and they could take action from a mobile app?

  11. Thanks for all the comments – it is really interesting to read the feedback.

    I do agree with others – such as Mike and Mahe that there are circumstances where mobile native apps can be useful. However the key points are these…

    1. DO NOT waste you time as a company building an app when you have no mobile optimised website. If both mSite and App makes sense, then cool – but do the mSite first!

    2. Stop thinking old skool – if you are building employer engagement through social media or emailing your community then you need to be mobile web optimised.

    3. The example of a nurse, is a good one – but what will the app do that an mSite won’t do? I can tell you – no push notification, but you can send SMS and email. No GPS but really this is a gimick when all I am doing is inputing a town name. No use of the camera – show me a recruitment mobile app that uses the camera? No matter which way you cut it, for candidate marketing and generation the mSite must be first on your shopping list.

    4. I am not saying ignore native mobile apps – but get creative and make sure the app adds value to your candidate.

    I honestly see some fantastic opportunity for candidate engagement post application via an app – someone should show the world what that looks like by building it!

  12. Keith – cool idea, we just need Apple to open Siri up to developers – and a heap of other tech. But this dream idea is not an app for a specific company!

    Even the blue sky – wouldn’t it rock if we could… app ideas are not for individual brands.

  13. Great thoughts as ever Dave, and very much in line with what we have developed at 4MAT. The key for me has always been to provide a good consistent experience for the user whether they’re arriving at or returning to your careers site on a desktop or on a mobile. I fully expect many of our users to move between accessing on mobile, desktop and tablet – and therefore ensuring things like search profiles, shortlisted jobs, and any personalization follows them is therefore key.

    I too get regularly pulled into the app vs mobile site debate and my response is always the same as yours – mobile site HAS to be the first priority.

    An app can add value in many cases – jobsboard and aggregator services for example would highly benefit from one – but as you say it’s down to likely frequency of use. Stats I saw recently about average app reuse rates showed huge dropoffs for most apps after just the first single use.

    Also the argument about push notifications being more likely to get read becomes somewhat void if they’re jostling for attention amongst many other recruiters’ apps, and just risk quick deletion of the app by a user who feels somewhat spammed. That said – if done very carefully, and proving nothing but EXTREMELY relevant job/content notifications then it could work.

  14. @Mike, I was just reading the second half of your comment.

    Why is a password protected employee only solution bound to an app? Can’t an mSite do this to? If all the security need was a password then an app is really adding no value. I recently saw an app solution that provided high security levels, which was a strong argument for the app.

    You also talk about the investment – have you built an mSite or an App? The investment in an mSite supports multiple devices in one go and is typically cheaper than one native app. The investment in a native app is for one device. If you play those numbers you will find your thinking may be flawed!

    @Seth great point! How rubbish would the candidate experience be if they were encouraged to download half a dozen apps to learn about those companies. Maybe @Mahe should consider this – is it really what is needed?

  15. Just one more point – GPS functionality is perfectly possible with a mobile website! Has to be opt-in by the user, and the HTML5 feature is not supported on all phones at all, but most new smartphones can handle it.

  16. In my view a it makes sense to build a mobile site first and then follow up with a mobile recruitment app (where it is appropriate for their business).

    More and people look at emails on their mobile (including jobs by email alerts) and anyone who clicks on an email link would expect to be taken to a mobile enabled site.

    Unfortunately this rarely happens and is probably a more important area that needs to be focussed on.

    At the end of the day a mobile recruitment app is simply another marketing channel.

    Just like radio advertising will be appropriate for some businesses it won’t be for others but it doesn’t mean that radio advertising is waste of time and should never be used.

    Another aspect to consider re mobile recruitment apps is branding/image and companies wanting to be seen as a company using the latest technologies.

    There will always be companies that fall into this category, just like people will always upgrade to the latest iPhone even though there is nothing wrong with the one they already have!

    At the end of the day how do we know whether job seekers want mobile recruitment apps or not? Shouldn’t they be given a choice?

    After all, companies are keen to be seen all over social media so that job seekers can choose how to interact with them.

    All we need to do is add a mobile recruitment apps to the list of other touch points like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest etc and just accept that a mobile recruitment app will work for some and not for others (just like social media).

  17. I absolutely agree that the priority should be a mobile optimized website, and that a generic app for the purposes of external candidates applying to posted jobs has limited use. I think it would be very appropriate though to build an app for current employees seeking career advancement internally.

  18. @Dave, At Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications we are helping clients with mobile, customizing the solution to meet their specific needs. If you have one universal employment related mobile app, you would want password protection for that area so that only current employees have access to the areas. If you build a separate app just for current employees, protecting certain areas is not necessary. As for apps for tablets, if you choose you can have the app provide a richer, more robust experience than possible on current smartphone formats. I agree with Ed, the potential to communicate with current employees through an app should, at this time, be treated as a priority over external communications with current candidates. But the potential for pipelining talent could be maximized in the future with the proper content management on the app.

  19. @Ed thanks for inputting, I know of some great internal app solutions on the horizon from a big company and I can’t wait to blog about it when the vendor is ready for it to go public!

    @MikeTaylor – I think you are getting confused. Your hard sell of apps, has quite a few flaws which I do NOT agree with.

    First off – you compare a company have a mobile app to a company having presence on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. This is a complete misunderstanding of user behaviour and platform / channel consumption.

    I myself (and according to comScore like many others) use a Twitter app or a Facebook app every day to consume social media. I visit Apple AppStore maybe twice a month, normally to look for a very specific app that I have read about or been shown. If you prioritise a Native App infront of an mSite you will attract modest downloads organically, but you have to support this ‘free exposure’ with targeted social / ad campaigns to attract significant download volumes.

    If I put mSites first – I get organic visitors from Google Mobile searches, which exposes my mSite to all mobile devices and a bigger daily search than AppStore. If I use auto redirecting links in Twitter and Facebook I deliver a wonderful experience for 50% of the potential candidates already consuming my social media, this is no extra effort and not mobile focused such as a tweet saying “download my app”. If I put mSites first people who I email can consume my content when they are reading their mail on their mobile.

    I can market the mSite with very high conversion using Google PPC and other advertisments, if I invest in similar marketing to promote an App the conversion drops, potential candidates now have enter a conversion funnel that involves downloading an app, this in turn significantly reduces the value of my marketing dollar.

    I just fail to understand your argument comparing mobile to radio – if I have an mSite I can reach a mobile audience, so whats the point? I miss out on the people searching app Store for jobs? Compared to missing out on maximizing my social conversions and being in Google Mobile that seems a fair price to pay.

    Out of the 60 odd recruiting apps I have researched how many had a good star rating in AppStore? Not many – this helps answer your question about choice – the choice being given is failing to fulfill user needs, otherwise those ratings would not be typically 1 star.

    I do believe the App offers value, but the ROI is dwarfed by an mSite. This has changed over the last 2 years. Social Media has gone mobile, Twitter and Facebook apps are now the new browser – this is where the mobile audience consumes a serious volume of content, this is where you need to be.

    I repeat for all readers, the key mobile strategic focus should be an mSite – moving forwards an tablet targeting site, then an app if you feel you are going to promote it hard.

  20. @MikeTemkin the app sounds Cool! Which platforms do you support? Do you also provide mSiites? I urge you always sell your clients an mSite with any native downloadable app! Coupled together is great – but make sure the mSite gets the core focus and attention, it will see more eyeballs.

    In this kind of approach, you can use the mSite to promote the download too. Considering the last research I published of the Fortune 100 suggested less than 8% had mobile recruiting websites or apps I must stress this approach is advanced for many companies.

    I would really like to review your internal app solution on my blog – mobiledave.me

  21. Wise words Dave and I completely agree. For some reason the recruiting industry seems to have lost the plot when it comes to mobile. We should be taking a step back and looking at how people are actually using their devices rather than trying force outmoded recruiting methods from other mediums on them.

    I also find it incredible that employers seem to have mSites so far down their priority list, why would you squander the valuable mobile traffic you already have by not building an mSite because you were wasting time on building (and then spending additional money marketing) an App for talent acquisition. It makes no sense to me at all

  22. Dave,

    I suppose this means that you’re retirement is over. Welcome back.

    I’ll give you a qualified maybe on this one. Apps make the user experience speedier. Until real high speed wireless broadband is a standard, apps have the advantage of hosting most of the content on the mobile device. So, if your goal is to deliver complex functionality, you’d better do an app. And, every company is going to want a viable fast interace for the kinds of decisions recruiters will make online. That, too, is better executed as an app.

    There’s a third reason to do an app.

    The basic candidate experience is thrown into chaos as soon as he or she hits the ATS (search) interface. As long as as your mobile candidate experience is destroyed by the ATS vendor, an app can be a helpful tool. First, it solves the obvious problem by routing around the ATS. 2nd, it creates an opportunity to redesign the total candidate experience under the rubric of building an app.

    In the real world of budgets and executives who don’t understand the nuances of the recruiting problem, this is a smart maneuver.

    With all that said, it is absolutely true that apps are a momentary thing. In the long haul, mobile optimized web pages will be the norm, just as you suggest. But, there may be many years between here and there. In that case, an app is a great transition tool.

    The important thing to notice is that mobile is no longer the future. It’s the present.

    You might enjoy the ongoing mobile recruiting series at the HRExaminer: http://www.hrexaminer.com/latest It’s a 6 part story that will appear in this week’s email newsletter in it’s entirety.

  23. @JohnSumser – 🙂 I am warming up ready for mRecruitingCamp in September. I am working on a major report covering our biggest and favourite companies attempts at mobile recruiting – or lack of it.

    I have really enjoyed your latest articles and have recommended to a few people they should read them – http://www.hrexaminer.com/lastest

    After all the debates over the years we have had on this topic, I found your latest articles very interesting.

    I agree with you that a super experience can be delivered by a native app. However given that 92% of the fortune 100 have not yet tried to do anything with Mobile Recruiting I am very keen to see them first deliver a highly available and accesible mSite – we need to help lead these companies to the water!

    I can not wait for the complex – wow-ing – apps to reach market!

    Your point about ATS experience is bang on the money – but it is not limited to mSites, it could easily impact Apps too. Regardless of mobile technology we need to ensure the ATS ‘process driven’ approach is not allowed risk screw up candiate experience on mobile.

    Any ATS reading – contact me, lets discuss what you need to do so you don’t destroy direct employer candidate experience on mobile for the next 15 years of online recruitment. The truth is, if an ATS can crack this nut of mobile recruiting they will be set to be big fish for the next generation!

  24. Outside of Jibe, no one has really cracked the nut of applying online with a mobile device. The idea that there is some imperative that pushes companies to have an optimized site that leads directly to candidate hell is a little, um, misguided. Sometimes you can’t build the road because the mountain is in the way.

    If rewickering the ATS stuff was simple, they’d have already done it.

  25. Dave

    Nice post and good to see you have caught up with mobile sites being a better option than Apps 😉

    @JohnSumser I don’t agree with your comments. In my experience I do not find an App always to be faster than a mobile site. The site we have built on HirePad for Krispy Kreme is way faster than the Twitter or Facebook Apps I use.

    Also, why would you use the ATS job search functionality on a mobile site? I have seen an example of this (AT&T and Taleo) which was actually two separate mobile sites cobbled together with duct tape and was pretty poor. We build the job search within the mobile site which makes the candidate experience much better, quicker and a lot more flexible.

    (Also @Dave) As far as the ATS apply process is concerned, stop blaming the ATS vendor. It is the client that configures the ATS application process not the vendor. The client needs to think about having different processes for mobile vs. desktop. If the client simplifies the mobile application process then the candidate experience can be tailored accordingly. I really don’t see why an App is needed to improve the application process. As I say, this is nothing to do with the ATS vendor – they have enough challenges as it is 😉

    On HirePad we have tried to address the mobile application process issue by introducing a job basket which alleviates the initial step of capturing an e-mail address and still allows the candidate to apply through any device but it is no way perfect as they still click through to the main career site to apply and of course the ATS process which the client dictates. What we really need is a mobile specific process and a decent ATS API so that the entire mobile application process can take place on the mobile career site and the candidate data pushed through the ATS API. But, there will still be additional information that has to be collected at some point that is best done on a desktop site.

    I do think an App is relevant for contractors/temps who will be known by an agency so their interaction (particularly temps) could be weekly job changes/selections, timesheet submissions, epayslips etc. So I’m not saying Apps are never relevant but that they need to be considered for the right application.

    Either way mobile traffic is growing so employers need to be including mobile as part of their overall strategy. Shame the Facebook Page Apps cannot be seen on mobile devices!!


  26. @Dave Martin

    Dave, in my first paragraph I said “In my view it makes sense to build a mobile site first and then follow up with a mobile recruitment app (where it is appropriate for their business).”

    In the last paragraph of your reply you said “I repeat for all readers, the key mobile strategic focus should be an mSite – moving forwards an tablet targeting site, then an app.”

    Looks like we agree on that?

    Just to clarify I didn’t I suggest prioritising a native app ahead of an mSite (as per my first sentence).

    I fully understand your argument about putting mSites first and I agree it makes sense to do so for the reasons you have stated. And these are exactly the same reasons I would use myself when talking to clients.

    For the record, I didn’t compare a company having a mobile app to a company having a presence on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. I was simply saying that companies today want to maximise their reach and exposure and that is why a lot of companies use social media sites in addition to other marketing channels. To me, a mobile recruitment app is simply another marketing channel for being found (if a company feels it is appropriate to have one).

    My point about radio had nothing to do with using mobile. I was just saying that radio was one of many different advertising channels that a company could use (if appropriate) and again I see a mobile recruitment app as just that – another channel for being found that companies can use (if they feel it is appropriate to have one).

    At the end of the day the world has gone mobile, but recruitment hasn’t kept up. There is still as long, long way to go, especially if you say 92% of the Fortune 100 haven’t yet tried to do anything with Mobile Recruiting.


  27. @mikeTaylor – Your second comment makes a lot of sense. The first, after reading it again is still confusing. Not sure if you have read @JohnSumser comments, he has highlighted some good points to the world of apps – although I do believe a lot of those good points can be achieved with an mSite delivering a service cheaper and with increased reach.

    @JohnSumser and @PeterGold if we waited for the customer to demand inovation we would still be driving horses and carts, Henry Ford famously stated if he had asked his customer what they wanted they would have answered faster horses and carts. – not the car. I do not believe it is in the long term interest of the ATS to wait for their customers to ask for it.

    The industry needs innovation, but (and I speak from experience) the reliance on the ATS for processing applications puts an enormous barrier in the way of true progress within our industry.

    The ATS need not innovate, let start ups do this – but the ATS barrier does need removing – or some holes punched through it. As an industry our tech has HR-XML as a standard of communication, what we really need to make this more valuable is a standard API that ATS’s and the like support to enable integration. Unfortunately there is more chance of wining the lottery than that happening.

    The popular option as you described – replicating a heap of ATS functionality within the web solution works – but it is a great shame that we have to do this. If as a company I have already invested significant sums into an ATS why do I then want to pay extra for a mobile or website that has to duplicate some ATS features.

    The behaviour that many ATS’s have shown, will eventually be their downfall. When serious market forces such as LinkedIn don’t integrate with the ATS – probably because it is difficult to have a generic integration – the value of the ATS starts be eroded away. The real shame of the matter is the recruiter is suffering, they are having to handle applications or candidate touch points in many online areas without the system to provide support or workflow. The ATS fixes a problem introduced by the Internet in 1999, but some have failed to keep up and do not fix the problems faced in 2012 – and lets not even consider the challenges recruiters will face in the future!

  28. I just notice how many time this article has been shared on social media – its quite a lot – while it is no ERE record, it does show that mobile is getting peoples attention. 18 months ago this was not the case.

    I am very pleased with this “temperature check”!

  29. I’m totally with Dave on this – apps are generally designed for those functions that require repeat visits – shopping, social media, games etc.

    When looking for a job at a specific company, it is unlikely you are going to want to download an app just to apply to one job. There may be the rare company that a candidate wants to be continually aware of vacancies coming up at that company but these would be few and far between.

    I see apps being used potentially as an internal comms tool rather than a job hunt tool

  30. Good to see you have returned to the fold Mr Martin 😉 Having heard the app/web arguement for several years now, I’ve always been a believer that mobile website is the first stage.

    The beauty about a good mobile website is that you cater for many devices in one go. The other aspect, is that I’ve seen a number of apps which are simply job apps. There is no opportunity for the content to be managed, to create landing pages that are relevant and can mix content with vacancies and give more information. Thinking about where the person lands is as important with mobile (if not more important) than web.

    This agile approach to content management on a mobile site gives the resourcing team the opportunity to quickly set up campaigns, add content, videos and jobs and direct visitors to that page. Whether that is a link on FB, a QR code, campaign url or Google search the context of the landing page can be controlled easily and be relevant.

    I’m in agreement with @PeterGold in that an app potentially has great potential in the temp market, online timesheets for example or online interview management. Where can the app be best used and where will it add value most.


  31. Dave

    You seem to be fixated on innovation from the ATS vendor when there isn’t any required. This is not about innovation, purely making a desktop process more mobile friendly for now. That is neither difficult or expensive.

    But, where I think we are both going to be in agreement is removing the “initial” need in its entirety. That’s where the start-ups come in but I’m not sure where this gets anyone as it needs a fundamental shift in the HR space as well as recruitment. I think Linkedin is a valid example but they still offer ATS integration but if they built more ATS functionality, an SMB/SME may of course no longer need an ATS. Although the amount of $’s Linkedin would charge could have an impact!!


  32. Great article MD, thought provoking. Interestingly, Reed.co.uk today launched their new mSite and opted not to go down the app route, like most other job boards. And I actually like it.

  33. This article is getting some great comments going – fantastic to see the debate really being pushed to the centre now with lots of interest.

    As David Johnston says – the ability for full content management is key, as is how well the mobile site ties into a wider system and allows easily management in one place.

    Personalisation of that content becomes even more key on a mobile as well than on desktop sites – where a user is easily distracted (on a move, walking down the road..), and has limited navigation to go hunting for content, putting the relevant stuff right in front of them becomes critical. Videos about the department you’re thinking of working on, day in the life of info etc – can all be put nicely into a mobile site as well as a desktop one.

    Moving back to the application process – I think the main options currently are with the “store for later use on a desktop” approach that Peter uses and that many of our current mobile sites use – or looking at options for pulling in pre-created profiles stored elsewhere on the web (mostly talking LinkedIn currently). Use of the latter does often require creatively working with existing workflows but given enough thought is not at all impossible. Through already well embedded use of CV parsers, agencies are generally better places to take advantage of these can many corporate recruiters. Ultimately many employers are going to want to ask some longer and specific questions that can’t be pulled in from a more generic source, so this needs to be introduced into the process at _some_ point.

    A key point is giving a candidate more ways to engage with you than just an “apply now or leave without a trace” option that is so often the case. We have this in place on the mobile sites we deliver to an extent at the moment and are busy at work on improving this further still. I hope the industry in general pushes ahead here to deliver better experiences in general for the candidate.

    There are definitely some interesting times ahead.

  34. We are a job board in South Africa and went through an internal debate similar to this one last year. Fortunately, the outcome was an agreement to first go mSite.

    Native Apps were just too expensive to develop for our purposes and maintaining multiple Native codebases in an environment where we are still very much in a mix of Smart and Feature phones just did not make sense.

    Reading this article and all the comments I am even more pleased that we have followed the route that we have. A decision to go Native would have been for pure bragging rights!

    I could not agree more that one should lead with mSites and provide Apps only once we better understand the behaviour of our audience.

    Thanks for the insight.

  35. This is an interesting debate. I’m inclined to agree with Dave. It’s far wiser simply to make an existing website mobile-friendly and let the individual’s smartphone do the rest according to the lens (e.g., social media or search engine) through which the jobseeker found a link to the job description.

  36. @PeterGold – I agree with you thanks for joining the debat with the right attitude too! You rock!

    @Paul – Great to say hi again- Its been a while. Your input is insightful as South Africa is really moving forwards in Mobile fast! It is great to hear your honesty “Native would have been for pure bragging rights”

    @BrentSkinner maybe we should bring this discussion to HRTechChat one Wednesday!

  37. Know we have a lot of great ideas and opinions since David wrote this blog. Just wanted to add a stat I just saw from comScore: Four in every five minutes spent with mobile media are with apps, even though equal numbers of people visit mobile websites and apps.

  38. Dave Martin…..

    What is this?

    We have mobile careers apps live (and based on both agency and candidate needs, continually improving upon)

    They are securing installs, applications and referrals

    For more education on Dave, feel free to contact me


    Regards and Respect

    John Edwards

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