You May Be Less Mobile-ready Than You Think

Get mobile! Now!
Oh no, everyone’s mobile but us!!
If we don’t optimize for mobile, we’re dead.

Sound familiar? There is no greater hue and cry right now across the recruitment landscape than the “sky is falling” refrain of the “get-mobile” crowd. Google recently added to the anxiety when it announced that it would be rolling out changes to its algorithms designed specifically to improve search functionality for the mobile web. The takeaway: If your company’s website isn’t deeply optimized for mobile users, your search rankings are going to suffer.

Following this announcement, Larry Engel contributed a great piece to examining just how Google’s changes may affect the recruitment and HR sector. In short, he theorizes that if your career page isn’t optimized for mobile, you could miss out on a good chunk of quality hires. And he’s right.

The bulk of today’s job seekers, and likely all of the next generation’s, use their mobile device as the primary engine to search for and, increasingly, apply for jobs.The smartphone and tablet haven’t displaced the desktop just yet, but the numbers all trend in that direction. So yes, the mobile revolution is well upon us, and we all better be ready.

Ok, so you read all this and you think to yourself, “oh my goodness, are we mobile-ready?” If you’re in the majority, then the answer is most likely “no.” As Larry Engel cites in his report, a recent study by Pure Oxygen Labs found that only 6 percent of the Fortune 100 would pass Google’s new mobile standards. But let’s say you’re lucky enough to be in that 6 percent, and when you grab your smartphone and search, your career site comes out right on top of the results. You can just sit back, fix yourself a beverage and relax in the knowledge that the best and brightest of this and future generations will find you when they’re looking to make their next career move, right? Wrong.

Go ahead, grab your phone again, and go back to your careers page. Looks good, right? All perfectly packaged for your device, bright, and colorful and easy to read. Now, tap on that “Apply Now” button …

Welcome to 2002.

This is where it all breaks down. While you may have done a good job ensuring your careers page is ready for mobile, in all likelihood, the application process is still antiquated and will force candidates back to their desktops at some point, a sure sign that your “candidate experience” is not up to snuff. Today’s top talent isn’t going to stand for this, and will likely move on to an opening at a company that allows them to apply, start-to-finish, from wherever they are and at any time.

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Last year, Kelton Research released figures indicating that 47 percent of job seekers want to apply for jobs from their mobile device; 45 percent of those want to also track their application status from their device. And surely, since that research was conducted, the percentages have only increased.

Your application process is likely tied to a legacy technology platform that simply isn’t ready for mobile. A complete mobile apply process should never, at any point in the process, send a candidate back to their desktop.

While there is a lot to consider — ATS integration, security and compliance, multiple options for resume upload, etc. — the over-arching importance is that we all understand what the term “mobile recruiting” truly entails, a difficult thing to do with all the hype and noise around the term. Mobile recruiting isn’t just about getting your jobs page ready for mobile searches and consumption. It isn’t just about making sure your listings can be easily found from any device. We have to think well beyond mobile SEO.

Mobile recruiting for years has been about the entire process, not just attracting the candidate in the first place. Once you’ve attracted them, you need to keep them — and forcing them back to their desktop is not the way to do that. It’s not yet too late to get truly mobile, but if you’re not at least thinking about an end-to-end mobile strategy now, it may be too late sooner than you want.

Joe Essenfeld is the founder and CEO of JIBE, a provider of cloud-based mobile recruiting and HCM enterprise software solutions. Prior to starting JIBE, he held several executive-level positions in which he was responsible for hiring hundreds of employees. It was his experiences with those hires that led him to start JIBE. Beyond his hands-on hiring experience, his relationships with senior recruitment executives at the Fortune 1000 have shaped the recruiting solutions JIBE has built. He received his bachelor of science from Cornell University and currently resides in New York City with his wife.


9 Comments on “You May Be Less Mobile-ready Than You Think

  1. Joe, much like the Jurassic metric cost-per-hire, candidate experience continues to be the stumbling block.

    Wait – did you hear that?

    “Because we’re HR, that’s why”

  2. The lack of ability to actually apply for jobs on most career websites is not only a challenge for candidates, but also a major setback in the presentation of an effective, meaningful employer brand – but there are solutions. Sanger & Eby has created a great one for the Taleo candidate management system (, and LinkedIn’s new features also offer a way around the resume upload stumbling block.

  3. Joe,

    I enjoyed your article and agree with virtually everything you’ve written except for this: “The bulk of today’s job seekers, and likely all of the next generation’s, use their mobile device as the primary engine to search for and, increasingly, apply for jobs.” That’s just not true. The data shows that about half of job seekers would like to use their mobiles to search and apply to jobs and most people with smartphones use their mobiles to search for jobs, but to say that they’re using their mobile devices as the “primary engine to search for” jobs goes too far. They aren’t. They’re continuing to use desktop and laptop computers as the primary devices.

    Don’t get me wrong. The mobile experience is absolutely brutal for most job seekers trying to search and apply to jobs with most organizations and that the organizations and their applicant tracking system vendors need to do a much, much better job. Sure, Taleo, LinkedIn, and some others are making the process better but typically only for job seekers who have already used a desktop or laptop computer to create accounts and then the resumes stored in those accounts can be accessed when the candidate is on a mobile but the candidate cannot feasibly tweak their resume so that their keyword phrases better line up with those used by the employer and without that tweaking the typical resume will be invisible to the typical recruiter.

    What I see out there today for mobile is a lot of Band-Aid approaches. What we really need is a complete re-thinking of how much information candidates need to provide in order to apply to a job. Do employers actually need resumes to start a candidate into the hiring process? No. Use a simple form with some drop downs for education, experience, etc. Just the bare minimum that will allow a recruiter (or automated system) to see at a glance if the candidate is likely to be qualified. If so, email them to get their resume and include in that email links to apply with LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.

    A resume is not an alibi. Recruiters should not need to know of a candidate’s whereabouts for every minute of every day for the past decade. At the point of application, they should just need to know whether this is someone worthy of pursuing. If so, get more information and move to the next step. The information candidates have been providing to-date is necessary to deciding whether to hire them but some isn’t necessary as early in the process.

  4. Hmmm. Is anybody even THINKINZG about setting up voice-enabled mobile job applications: ;

    “Siri, go to: NOT YOUR COMPANY’S Career Page.
    Go to: Jobs
    Go to: Recruiter Jobs
    Apply to Jobs 4, 7, 11, 13, and 18.” or better:

    “Siri, Voice Macro 4”

  5. Which company?


    Apply to which jobs?

    “Jobs 4, 7, 11, 13, and 18.””

    Completed. Shall I continue?


    Which company?….

    Now THAT’S being mobile-ready in my book, senores y damas…

    Keith “Twenty Minutes Into the Future” Halperin

  6. Excellent post Joe. Preach it! 🙂 I agree with everything you’ve said here. I am curious though what you’ve seen in terms of really long/complex application processes. Take for example, a healthcare application. Are you seeing candidates willing to go through such a process on their mobile device? From our experience, we’ve seen them more than willing to complete quick applications on their mobile phones, but not applications that are long and require lots of information, no matter how good the user experience.

    But what have you seen?

  7. Steve:
    I agree with you about candidate experience being the stumbling block. It does however seem to be THE focus this year for more companies than ever before.

    Awesome comment. I appreciate your argument but still hold firm on my statement. According to what we have heard from job boards and aggregators nearly 50% of their job search traffic is coming from mobile devices. Being that this number is rapidly growing I think it is safe to say that searching on mobile (I am including tablets in this assumption) is the primary choice of the majority.

    Here is a question/comment for you about your suggestion of a simplified application. Assuming the candidate gets through that first hurdle and gets to the next stage is your expectation they fill out the additional information required for that stage on a desktop or would you mobile optimize that experience too? It is my experience that depending on company culture candidates will at some point have to pay the piper and fill out a full job application. So an abbreviated initial app just delays the pain.

    Siri – please define spray and pray.

  8. Thanks, Jason. You are spot on. There is a direct correlation between length of application and drop-off. We try to do whatever we can to mitigate that. Re-engaging applicants with partially completed apps has been the best way to curb drop-off on long apps. For healthcare clients and other who have long job apps (15mins+), our advice is to make sure the desktop and mobile job applications are seamlessly integrated. This enables applicants to more easily switch between platforms. That way if they start on mobile it is easy to finish on desktop. Finessing the integration between mobile and desktop with different ATS’s was a challenging problem to solve.

  9. @ Joe: “Spray and pray” how we need to try and get a job.
    “There is a direct correlation between length of application and drop-off.” I heard a company say that they found it really drops off after two minutes… Is your company (or anybody else) familiar with the Gamified Application Process (GAP) technique? This is where it takes hardly any time to submit an application (under two minutes), but candidates are encouraged through gamification to spend more time and give more information- the more time/info they give: the more rewards they get. An example: “If you answer our 30 min coding question successfully, you will get a F2F interview.”


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