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I Know You’re Concerned About Mobile Recruiting, But You Need to Move Faster

by Dec 5, 2013, 6:36 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 2.34.42 PMOnline recruitment marketing has progressed slowly, moving at the pace of a sloth when compared to e-retail. Mobile web is rapidly taking over desktop web and change is now at cheetah speeds. Can recruiting catch up candidate expectations?

For the last 15 years or so recruitment has relied on the Internet to attract talent. During that time we have seen huge technological and infrastructure changes surrounding the web. Above all the largest change has been speed of connection, costs, and confidence.

In the U.S. and Europe broadband is relatively cheap and has high population penetration. The cost of a laptop has dropped from four figures to a few hundred dollars or Pounds. The consumer in the street is no longer scared to click on links and is highly confident in search and web browsing. The success of social networks relied on the timing of these three areas converging to maturity.

While the ingredients of the Internet has been changing rapidly, the basic recruitment solutions have remained predominantly static. Some aesthetics have changed in order to  remain “fashionable” but the job board works the same way and the corporate career site now has video.

I am not saying there has been zero innovation: clearly job aggregators, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc are innovating, but these are not the majority.

It used to be that consumers would buy a PC and keep it for five years. The interface has been a keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) for decades.

But this is all changing.

The iPhone landed and the smartphone has boomed. Then the iPad landed and the tablet and phablet blossomed. Consumers change their devices annually or every two years, some even more frequently. The device operating system is changing every 6 months. The shape and sizes are changing all the time — the top 100 devices have 26 different sizes. Mobile web now moves at consumer electronics speed, which is fast like a cheetah.

The change to mobile web is beyond that of hardware. The consumer expectations and behavior has been transformed. Mobile users (referring to smartphone users and tablet users) expect it to be easier to achieve their goals. They expect relevance.

E-retailers have helped forge this expectation; they have optimized the buying process from advertisement to transaction. Ads track your behavior and are relevant to what your actions have been. Clicking on an ad or a link in Google serves up targeted relevant content, making it easier to influence your buying decisions. The transaction is simple: one click on Amazon or a few clicks using PayPal or Google Check Out, and the process is easy. The e-retailers have invested in easy and relevant — they have made enormous returns.

The after-effect of sophisticated marketing is that online recruitment feels out dated and difficult. Recruits are sitting on a huge potential to unlock better talent targeting and increased conversion rates. There are many relatively easy wins for example career-specific landing pages or targeted sites focusing on skills or functions. The value of the “one size fits all” mammoth career site is rapidly diminishing.

Mobile web is the catalyst for change. The journey for the candidate on mobile is broken. For example, the candidate may engage with an employer on social media (most likely from their mobile device), and click a link to a job, but the link will take the candidate to a career site that is frustrating to use on mobile. After putting up with the pain of using the career site on their mobile device, the candidate clicks to apply and is then the door is slammed in the candidate’s face as the site asks them to upload their resume/CV — something that is impossible from many devices such as an iPhone. This journey can be described as the candidate conversion funnel and it is broken on mobile web.

In absence of a clear solution a few have argued there is no need to fix the conversion funnel. In the face of exponentially growing mobile web traffic it is highly dangerous to ignore mobile web. Those few who have found an early solution have seen strong results and multiplied their return from social marketing. From our research (which agrees with other such research) more than 90 percent of companies have an online presence which makes it impossible for candidates apply from the mobile web. Not only is this unacceptable to candidates’ expectations, it is costing recruiters heavily in time, money, and damaged employer brands.

Recruitment online marketing as been like a sloth — reactive and moving only when it really has to. It is time for change. Recruitment needs to start optimizing the candidate conversion funnel!

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Eric Offner

    Hey Dave — great write up.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your candidate conversion funnel idea. What isn’t very clear to most companies without doing some due diligence is the candidate experience from each of the sourcing channels that a company publishes jobs.

    As internet recruiting has evolved, a hub and spoke strategy became best practice. The hub has been the career site and subsequent ATS of a company, while the spokes are all of the places in ‘cyberland’ that candidates can find these company jobs.

    During the past 2-3 years, those spokes have evolved. They are now split between the existing web presence and now a mobile web and/or app presence. Millions of candidates are flocking to these ‘new’ spokes to find jobs because its convenient and easy. (well, at least to view the jobs is easy) The problem is, the existing hub is not going to work well for these mobile web visits. Your example of social media is really great because the percentage of jobs shared on social is very high and the mobile consumption of those jobs are also very high. Man, big missed opportunities there. E-Commerce businesses would die to have an opportunity to engage with such an audience to sell things.

    Creating a really great mobile “hub” for those mobile spokes will certainly differentiate from a competitive standpoint today. Waiting til you ‘have to’ change will be too late. In the late 1990′s, internet recruiting was a choice. In the past 6 years or so, social recruiting had been a choice. You don’t have a choice here. Mobile is happening with or without you and getting out in front of the candidate conversion funnel will absolutely pay off.

    Thanks for writing this & hope all is well on your side of the pond.

  • Gregory Cianfarani

    I agree 100% David. The issue is the cost & complexity (ROI justification) of an employer developing their own mobile app, as well as the cost and complexity of mobilizing (responsive design) their job board and ATS. Employers are creeping along, we performed an analysis just last month on the progress.
    http://www.jobappcenter.com/mobile_enhancement_job_boards_ats_websites.pptx

    We have developed a solution for employers who realize they want/need their own mobile jobs app, and are formally launching in Jan. If anyone would like a preview, here it is: http://ceappcenter.com/

  • Eric Offner

    Greg, you mentioned ‘responsive web’ as a mobile solution for the job board portion of a site and ATS integration. I would have to violently disagree with you here. Responsive web isn’t mobile. Responsive web is web for a small screen, which is completely wrong for the user.

    Like a shopping experience and subsequent purchase experience on mobile sites like Amazon, Ebay, Overstock, or Dicks Sporting Goods etc.., they are quick, fast, and easy. It’s critical for these businesses to have a very good experience or they risk losing millions of dollars. Not one of them would ever consider using responsive web for their shopping experience. Facebook used to use responsive, but the experience was horrific so they changed to Adaptive design. This is the right way to go.

    Mobile isn’t Web Jr. Mobile is much bigger and should be treated uniquely in and of itself. When it comes to delivering a supreme user experience, the users should certainly be considered. If you are considering the users, (in this case job seekers) then using responsive should be excluded because it fixes a screen size problem to content. It’s not contextual or relevant in nature at all, which is Dave’s point up top.

    Responsive is good for some things like sending email, since now more than 50% of email is opened on mobile. But building responsive for a candidate that is to consume an employers’ employee value proposition, view career site content pages, watching video, searching and applying to jobs (like shopping and paying with credit card), should be done with the user in mind. Adaptive design would be the best approach in my opinion.

    Would love Dave’s comments on this topic as well.

  • Gregory Cianfarani

    Eric,
    I like your hub/spoke analogy. At the end of the day, you’re right, it is all about the UX. The point of my post was not to compare the various options employers/recruiters have and suggest one over another when it comes time for them to move forward with a mobile presence. I merely wanted to highlight that whatever option/s they ultimately choose, the ROI must make sense. Mobile is no secret, but like anything else, ROI justification (money, time, resources, opportunity costs, etc) is why the majority of employers have little to no mobile presence.

  • http://talent.linkedin.com Leela Srinivasan

    Well said Dave Martin. Trust me, I’m thumping the tub on the other side of the pond. Here’s to 2014 being the Year of the Cheetah rather than Year of the Sloth for mobile recruiting.

  • Eric Offner

    Ah, yes, the business case for mobile. Now we are in violent agreement. :) For starters, if you spend on sourcing — you can argue immediately that 30-40% of that marketing investment is being spent on mobile eyeballs. Therefore, the ROI on that investment in it current state can immediately be improved with a great mobile experience. Mobile is the best point of engagement today – to forfeit those visits would be wildly detrimental in my opinion. Beyond that, there are employer brand implications that can be swayed one way or another as well.

    It’s 1997 all over again. “Should we build a website and put our jobs there?” Today, if you don’t have this you are irrelevant.

    2014: Year of the Cheetah
    – Leela S.

  • Gregory Cianfarani

    We ARE in violent agreement here… and we use the 1997 example frequently with employers to get them to understand what is happening, and to start taking some action.

    We position it this way… “Let’s rewind the clock back to 1995. We would be having the SAME EXACT conversation on the benefits of your organization having an internet presence with your own website. And in 1995, you would have the same apprehensions (cost, accessibility, do we really need it, etc).”

    A 1995 internet presence is parallel to a 2014 mobile presence.

  • Keith Halperin

    Ignorant questions:
    1) Can someone on a laptop/desktop apply on a mobile site?
    2) Do you need two/mirror sites- one for mobile and one for non-mobile, or will the mobile one work for both? If one will work for both, why not scrap the non-mobile site/mirror, and have only one which can be accessed from anything?
    3) Wouldn’t many companies go mobile more quickly if it weren’t so expensive to make their sites mobile-ready? How much does it cost to make your site mobile-ready?
    4) Would your tech people (who normally handle the web development and web design) be able to do it, or do you normally bring in outside expertise?
    5) Are most existing ATS compatible with current mobile application? If not, what does it typically cost to upgrade your existing ATS, or would you often have to get a whole new ATS, too?
    6) Since a very large number of companies don’t care that their existing non-mobile application process is inefficient, time-consuming, and alienating, why would they care to make a mobile one that’s better, i.e., if they didn’t care before about losing large numbers of good potential applicants, why should they care now, particularly when it probably involves spending a lot of money?

    Cheers,
    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  • Martin Snyder

    Here is some counterintuitive spew for you:

    If “Mobile” means anything, I means “Not Desktop” or maybe “Not Windows”.

    Lets recall a few things about Windows; first the odds are pretty high you are reading this on a Windows device. Second, if UX is everything (and I don’t think it is by a long shot, because that’s like saying looks are everything, which only gets you so far), Windows UX kills any mobile UX for real work, and this has not changed a bit. Why lift a 20 pound slab of forearm meat when you can use micrograms of force on your mouse to accomplish an action? Does anyone want to use Photoshop all day on a touch device? Of course not. So if “Mobile” had mice and keyboards, why it would not be mobile anymore, correct?

    Well no, because Windows still. So now the Nokia actually makes perfect sense.

    If Microsoft gets full Windows 8 on phones, which they will in short order, and those phones bluetooth or dock to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor at home and work, and are serviceable tablets untethered, maybe even running iOS / Android emulators, all of a sudden the peoplez have a big choice to make.

    Microsoft is not weaker in the enterprise- to the contrary, they have been chomping on Oracle and IBM the whole time and have nicely moved up the food chain.

    All of a sudden if “Mobile” means anything, it will mean Chrome compatibility. That’s how I see it in the real world: my grandma does not care if you give her an app or a URL- she knows what to do with both.

    I wrote this on a Dell Venue running full Windows 8.1 on a chrome browser using bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It’s clunky and inelegant at the moment, but that will go away soon enough (see cf. UX not always the thing).

    Did I just commit mobile, or was it desktop?

    You heard it here first: “Mobile” as a concept is dying fast and the death of Windows has been beyond exaggerated. Our product roadmap already equates “mobile” to Chrome and still includes a heavy serving of Microsoft technology, because that gigantic and vital ecosystem is alive and well.

    When everything is mobile, nothing will be….and that will be sooner than almost anyone expects…

  • Dave Martin

    Thank you everyone for reading and commenting! It is great to see hear similar views.

    Eric, Leela and Gregory – great feedback and discussion!

    Keith – you asked 6 quite large questions. I have answered them as best as I could in a blog post specially for you!

    http://mobiledave.me/blog/2013/12/6/6-real-recruiter-questions-on-mobile-answered

    I was totally confused by the Microsoft comment, I don’t agree with the Chrome point or the UX in not important. If UX was not important MS Windows would not exist we would all still be using the command line in MS DOS or UNIX!

  • Dave Martin

    BTW here the answers for Keith incase you don’t want to read them on my blog….

    1) Can someone on a laptop/desktop apply on a mobile site?
    Typically the mobile view of the site with the apply process optimised for mobile is only accessible on a mobile or tablet. However if for any reason a candidate did reach the mobile version on their laptop or desktop they could easily apply.

    2) Do you need two/mirror sites- one for mobile and one for non-mobile, or will the mobile one work for both?

    Great question and one full of hype and buzz words which I will try to avoid. Instead of discussing tech options (which is the tail wagging the dog!) lets discuss your objectives…

    A site that loads on mobile and desktop really quick (say 1 second) – this will tick the SEO changes Google is making around mobile speeds and reduce talent drop off.
    A mobile experience that satisfies the mobile user behaviour which is quickly find the relevant information and act.
    A call to action – in our case Apply – that is not impossible on mobile.
    A UX that is not painful and frustrating on mobile e.g. big buttons, no tiny links, finger friendly etc.
    Job search that does not suffer the “needle in a hay stack syndrome”.
    A site representing the brand as best as possible with a great experience on new, old and in between devices. If the CFO is holding on to their 4 year old Blackberry the site better not crash it!
    Future friendly, a solution that is easy to update with tweaks for new devices.
    To achieve the above, a basic squishy (Responsive Web Design) does not work. Progressive Responsive can deliver this. Although as the recent BBC case study shows progressive responsive is complex and can seriously stall speed of change.

    My personal advice is an Adaptive solution which renders HTML that matches the capabilities of the device – ideally it will have some progressive elements as well (features that when loaded act more complex on new mobiles compared to old ones).

    Do not assume a new device will just work with your existing site – the Kindle Fire HD had changes that broke some javascript, iOS 6 changed how certain javascript is handled in memory and broke some sites. We have new operating systems and devices being released all the time – future friendly matters!

    3) Wouldn’t many companies go mobile more quickly if it weren’t so expensive to make their sites mobile-ready? How much does it cost to make your site mobile-ready?

    Ping me, see my company http://www.threesparks.com our SaaS products make very easy and cost has never been an obstacle – but we are different from the typical suppliers!

    4) Would your tech people (who normally handle the web development and web design) be able to do it, or do you normally bring in outside expertise?

    Your in house tech could given enough time and resources do this, they are unlikely to have the expertise so it will likely be more expensive. The issues of testing on multiple devices and hardware is normally a problem internally. The constant maintenance of testing on newly released devices and updating the site is almost always impossible with internal teams as they are re-allocated to new tasks.

    Mobile is a newer channel than desktop web, this means new solutions will keep appearing and your internal team won’t keep up. Eg when we first released “Cloud Apply” we only offered LinkedIn. A month later we added Drop Box. Then Monster released their apply button so we added that. We are now adding more newly released solutions. An internal team would have scheduling conflict and be unable to keep your site up to date.

    5) Are most existing ATS compatible with current mobile application? If not, what does it typically cost to upgrade your existing ATS, or would you often have to get a whole new ATS, too?

    Very few ATS offer a mobile solution. Those that do mostly are a token gesture and fail to properly address the issues. However this does not mean your mobile website is not ATS compatible. Many mobile recruiting solutions (Three Sparks included) integrate with the ATS and typically in a fashion that requires zero changes or spend to the existing ATS install.

    6) Since a very large number of companies don’t care that their existing non-mobile application process is inefficient, time-consuming, and alienating, why would they care to make a mobile one that’s better, i.e., if they didn’t care before about losing large numbers of good potential applicants, why should they care now, particularly when it probably involves spending a lot of money?

    The first point to make is most exiting recruitment sites slam the door in the candidates face making it impossible to apply. Impossible is different to inefficient and time consuming!

    Are you familiar with the power of exponential growth? For the last 3 years the volume of job seekers using mobile web has doubled year on year. It is easy to feel like this is not a critical issue, but if it doubles again it will be the only recruitment marketing priority the industry will be talking about! For example many job boards I work with in the UK tell me today they get 40% of their traffic from mobile, last year it was 20%, year before it was 10%. If it doubles in 12 months it will be 80% – that volume is too large to not invest in! We are repeating the same discussion that took place over ten years “why should I put jobs on a website, when I put them in a print advert!”

    I also believe many of todays solutions to mobile are too expensive, as with all new solutions this will drop as popularity grows, i.e. supply and demand.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you very much, Dave. Much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  • http://www.deloitte.com Jim Rose

    Dave,

    Thanks for the thought provoking article. I’m wondering if you, or anyone else for that matter can help me out. You make several statements in your article that gave me pause:

    1) Recruits are sitting on a huge potential to unlock better talent targeting and increased conversion rates. There are many relatively easy wins for example career-specific landing pages or targeted sites focusing on skills or functions.

    Are you trying to equate consumer behavior with candidate or job-search behavior?? Is there any research available that draws this conclusion?

    2)From our research (which agrees with other such research) more than 90 percent of companies have an online presence which makes it impossible for candidates apply from the mobile web. Not only is this unacceptable to candidates’ expectations, it is costing recruiters heavily in time, money, and damaged employer brands.

    There are a lot of absolute statements here. Unacceptable to candidates how? What are their expectations?? And if 90% of all companies are not optimized, how is my brand damaged exactly?

    Dave, here’s where I’m coming from…as I’m sure you’re all to aware, it’s very hard to get traction on a large investment without lots of data and the accompanying analysis. And so far, I just haven’t seen anything to suggest that the pain of not being optimized justifies the investment. I’d love for you to prove me wrong.

    Cheers,

    Jim

  • Martin Snyder

    Maybe the confusion clears by answering some questions?

    What does “mobile” mean?

    Is a PC a mobile device? Can a PC be a mobile device?

    Can you classify a Dell Venue 8 as a mobile device?

    Is it possible technologists are using Chrome compatibility as a proxy for “mobile” compatibility?

    If all near future web-design is built around small-pane viewing and Chrome/Safari compatibility, will “mobile” have meaning in that context either?

    Does merely expressing interest in a job constitute an “application” to that job? Do you “apply with LinkedIn” or do you express interest which leads to an application process?

    Is the proposal that any situation that would encourage use of keyboard and mouse should be eliminated because people wont be using keyboards and mice in the future?

  • Dave Martin

    Martin – When I say “Mobile” I refer to smartphone and tablets. They need to be portable, switch on instantly and use a touch interface not a mouse.

    The “proposal” is more of a global Internet Trend – the web is consumed via multiple devices. Just as news is still read from the printed newspaper and watched on TV as well consumed via news websites and Twitter – the job seeking journey is now consumed on mobile web and desktop / laptop web.

    The paradigm shift of web consumption to mobile will not eliminate any other approach and equally it won’t bypass recruitment.

    Jim –
    Thanks for reading and great thoughts.

    Experience and data shows that job seekers do respond to mobile web recruitment channels. I frequently use retail consumption behaviour as an example simply due to data availability and often it helps to consider a transitional concept that we all participate in regularly instead of one we serve regularly.

    Various case studies in recruitment show the mobile channel converting candidates with percentage rates similar to desktop. I have worked with various companies that saw higher engagement with the career content on mobile than on desktop. I recently analysed the job seeker journey our customers candidates experienced to find mobile had half the drop of rate between job listings and job full details when compared to desktop. This is aligned with research in retail marketing that found more than twice the number of mobile web consumers purchased within 2 hours of carrying out a search.

    I have read, and probably blogged about various candidate research that typically suggests 80% of jobseekers would like to apply from their mobile device. In a survey more than 18 months old two thirds of candidates from a sample 100,000 responded to have been frustrated by the mobile job seeking experience.

    It is unacceptable to provide a frustrating candidate experience on mobile web. Candidates are pinching, zooming, scrolling and struggling to navigate the career sites and more times than not their journey is ended by an application process that impossible to progress on mobile. Slamming the door in the candidates face after they have struggled to get to to it sucks! Treating a growing volume of candidates in this manner (normally 20% to 35% of career site visitors) in this manner is absolutely unacceptable.

    Will it leave a bad taste about your brand with the candidates – yes. As a consumer they may well not be trying to apply to your competitors and as such will not have their equally bad experience to compare it to!

    To be honest, the idea of “lets do nothing because everyone is rubbish” is not one I can understand – instead you can treat your candidates better than your competition and show the world how better your brand is!

    Given the rising % of the web audience and social media audience that mobile web receives and the volume of wasted job seeker click throughs from social media or Google those companies that embrace mobile web as part of their media mix will soon reap the benefits. Those employers that have invested in suitable solutions are seeing the benefits.

    The cost of investment is reducing with new technology (like my company) and overall growing demand – so the ROI will be even easier to obtain.

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