5 Principles for Innovation in Mobile Recruiting

Technologists practice innovation every day. The many years I have spent working in technology—in online measurement, search advertising, and now online recruiting advertising—have exposed the many amazing things that can be built when people think about the gap between what currently exists and what could exist. The consideration of user behavior, user needs, technology limitations, and technology potential all work together in driving the creation of products that serve both users and customers.

The digital world is going through a seismic shift as user behavior shifts from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices. Data from comScore shows that 51 percent of US users’ time spent on a digital device in mid-2013 occurred on a tablet or smartphone. Every business type with an online presence has seen this shift occurring since the dawn of the mobile web on the Palm to the rise of iOS and Android, and job seeking as a category has not been immune to these changes. More than 30 percent of traffic to Simply Hired comes from mobile devices, and we expect it to grow to 50 percent by 2015.

Online recruiting though, has been slow to adapt to this shift in job seeker behavior. ATS limitations and the difficulty of storing a resume on a mobile device have made it difficult for both the employer and the job seeker to meet the requirements when applying to jobs online. In a study conducted by Simply Hired in 2012, 70 percent of respondents said they use mobile technology to search for jobs, and 86 percent said they would apply for jobs through mobile devices if they could. Yet only 36 percent of Fortune 500 companies examined by iMomentous in late 2013 had a mobile career section on their site, and five percent had the ability to apply through a mobile device. Clearly there is a gap between what job seekers expect and what employers currently offer.

To help close this gap, employers can apply these key principles of technology development in order to succeed in the new multi-platform digital landscape.

Principle 1: Iteration

Implementing new technology solutions, such as a mobile-friendly career site or updating an ATS, is a big decision for most companies. But technology innovators know the principles of iteration: start with what you have and make small adjustments as you move forward. For instance, LinkedIn looks quite different than it did five years ago, but it’s hard to point to a single moment where it changed. While some products are built entirely from scratch, most technology products are built by iterating on top of what is already there, and they evolve over time.

Recruiting functions can use the same principle to guide their adoption of mobile-friendly solutions by evaluating what they have and what small steps they can take to attract candidates on the go. For instance, before migrating an entire website to mobile, a company can migrate the careers section of its site to mobile. Or it can opt to advertise jobs on mobile and host the pages on the mobile advertiser site in order not to deter candidates. By expanding on top of the available capabilities, employers learn what works and what doesn’t. Also, this process can expand their mobile presence at a pace that works for them.

Principle 2: Know Your Audience

Technologists continually evaluate how people use existing features, and listen to users in order to uncover unmet needs. At Simply Hired, we regularly look at job seeker behavior to learn how we can better meet their needs. A recent study resulted in findings that can help dispel some of the myths about the mobile job seeker:

  • Mobile job seeking is universal: mobile job seekers are similar to desktop-only job seekers when it comes to the types of searches they make and the categories of jobs they visit.
  • Mobile job seekers are highly engaged: They spend more time looking at jobs, view more job listings, and are more likely to visit jobs more than once as they switch devices to apply.
  • Mobile job seekers are eager to apply online: in a recent survey, 70 percent of job seekers said they would apply on mobile if the technology had been available.

While high-level statistics such as these can help influence your strategy, it’s important to also know your specific audience and their concerns based on your location, the job type, as well as the current employment environment.

Principle 3: Segmentation

Part of knowing your audience is also knowing how their needs differ depending on factors inherent to the segment. For instance, Google created Google Scholar to address the needs of academics, who are required to cite only published works and include detailed citation information in their research.

Likewise, employers may need to segment recruiting efforts by job type.

When building out mobile application processes, medical jobs that require license information may require a slightly longer mobile application process than administrative positions. Truckers are another group with special user needs: because they are on the go and likely won’t take the time to apply from their phones, some trucking companies include a phone number on mobile ads and take application information over the phone.

Principle 4: Experimentation

We can all point to technology failures. Anyone remember the Apple Newton or Google Wave? Though these products were failures, they resulted in learning that was likely used as Apple and Google developed subsequent products. For every failure, we can easily point to experiments that became great products, such as Google News or even Facebook. 

Employers can consider piloting mobile functionality to specific types of candidates. They can also set aside a portion of their budget to advertise jobs on mobile, and try out mobile application features offered by job advertising sites before building their own. Without a budget for experimentation, employers will miss out on new opportunities to reach qualified candidates who are eager to apply.

Principle 5: Measure Performance

Without measurement, it’s impossible to know whether an experiment succeeds or fails. The best technologists put metrics in place prior to any launch, and closely monitor performance against goals.

Number of applicants, cost per hire, and time to hire are the typical metrics used by recruiters. But measurement can be even more granular and offer greater insight into performance. When experimenting with mobile advertising on job search aggregators, like Simply Hired, employers have the ability to compare number of clicks and cost per click (CPC) across desktop and mobile to determine the value of their investment. A low number of clicks on mobile could indicate a job is not relevant to mobile candidates or that the CPC is too low. A job that receives a high number of clicks but not many applications could indicate that the job description is too long or that the application process is too complicated.

Innovation is a Necessity in the Digital Age

If more than half of all digital time spent online is already occurring on mobile devices, how are you going to keep up when half of all job seeking activity is on mobile? By using the principles of innovation that technologists use every day, employers in every industry can make improvements to better serve job seekers in the new digital landscape.


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