More Cell Phones Than Computers Means You Can’t Ignore Mobile

Oct 21, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

At every HR trade show, demo, product announcement, or webinar technology vendors of every stripe talk about their mobile interfaces. Even if it never occurred to you to manage a workforce by cell phone, you can.

And now would be a good time to start thinking that way. Just last week the Pew Research Center reported that 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone vs. 76 percent who have a computer. Among the 18-29 year group, 96 percent own a cell phone.

Pew didn’t report the percentage of smartphone usage in this latest report, but earlier this summer another Pew survey found that 40 percent of adults use their phone to access the Internet, IM, or email.

That report also found cell phone use for things other than voice communications were higher for Blacks and English-speaking Latinos. Cumulatively 87 percent of the two groups own a cell phone versus 80 percent for whites. Half (51 percent) of the Latinos surveyed use their phone to access the Internet, while 46 percent of Blacks do. The survey found only 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites do.

Part of the explanation may be that Blacks and Latinos own computers at lower rates than do whites; 67 percent of Blacks and 70 percent of Latinos own a computer compared to 79 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Obviously this has implications for diversity recruiting and for meeting the needs of a diverse workforce. Indeed, in many ways recruiting was ahead of the mobile trend. The first use of mobile by recruiters was SMS to alert candidates to opportunities. Candidates still had to access the posting via a computer to get the details and to apply. Today, job alerts are commonly sent via Twitter. It’s a feature offered by all the largest job boards and most of the major company career sites.

So sophisticated has mobile recruiting become that a job-seeker tweeted an interesting possibility can access the listing and even apply entirely by smartphone.

Then there’s the social networking aspect. comScore says that 74 percent of smartphone users accessed a social network with either an app or by browser. That’s practically a dead heat with search (73 percent). One telling data point that recruiters should be mindful of in their social media strategy: 31 percent of all smartphone users who access a social network did it via an app; 43 percent used their browser.

Earlier this month CareerBuilder announced an expansion of the mobile services it first launched two years ago. iPhone users, who account for 1.6 million searches on CareerBuilder and 115,000 job applications monthly, now will see jobs in their field of interest near where they happen to be at any given moment. They’ll also be able to actively search for nearby jobs, apply for them and view their application history, even create a new resume.

Android users also get many of the same capabilities. They can now search for jobs, use the advanced search functions, including geo-location, apply, check their application history, and create a resume, among other functions.

If you have any doubt about the market for mobile uses, CareerBuilder said it will build mobile career sites for its corporate clients. A mobile site is different from a typical website in that it has been optimized for viewing on small cell phone and smartphone screens.

The announcement about this new service says: “Recruiters can post jobs through their smartphones and leverage company employees as mobile ambassadors. When employees access the site through their mobile device and email jobs to contacts, it becomes hard-coded as a referral that the company can track. ”

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.