There is absolutely no doubt that some recruiting practices will be changed by mobile technology. The technology investment question is better understood as ‘are we at a point where platform stability and clear use cases mandate the use of mobile tech in recruiting?’

Mobile Recruiting

The evangelists are using the hype-overdrive machine. If you believe the hysteria, your recruiting efforts will self destruct if you don’t install mobile recruiting immediately. They make the case with a bucket of statistics about ‘mobile traffic’. Instead of some sort of factual argument rooted in data about recruiting, the noise is all about adoption cycles for phones and tablets. No one is able to actually link the growth in cellular broadband and recruiting effectiveness.

This is typical marketing in the early adopter phase.

There is absolutely no doubt that some recruiting practices will be changed by mobile technology. It’s equally clear that recruiting itself will be transformed completely over the next decade. The technology investment question is better understood as ‘are we at a point where platform stability and clear use cases mandate the use of mobile tech in recruiting?’

The end game is that mobile tech will segment the recruiting process into long and short tasks. That’s what mobile does; it completely redefines the work it touches. It’s powerful for short decisions and awful for anything that requires concentration. Mobile is great for work that can be wedged in the time between other things. It’s not so good when thinking is required.

This is true for candidates and recruiters alike.

Mobile is and will be good for quick, short cycle decisions. You can easily imagine below level jobs in the service, retail and hospitality industries being completely handled with mobile devices. Unfortunately, much of that sector doesn’t yet have the requisite smart phone.

The rest of recruiting requires increasingly sophisticated decisions on both sides of the equation. While it may be interesting to give signals of interest, complicated exchanges of personal data, the customized spin required, job explanations and the spin required there are too complex for current mobile capabilities.

I’ve been wrestling in public and in private with the question of the relative importance of mobile recruiting. In preparation for this article, I spent some time talking with a recruiter who works for a mobile games company. The mobile traffic to their employment website (which you’d think would be quite heavy) was in the 10% range. They are unaware of any particular opportunities that they’ve missed. They sheepishly admit that they ought to be an exemplar. They quickly notice that they’d have to take talent away from revenue and that the problem isn’t yet that big.

These are the people who should be the poster children for mobile recruiting.

Further on in the conversation, we got to the question of ‘candidate experience’ on mobile devices. Together, we agreed that it was more respectful of the candidate and her time to focus on the employment website and its functionality. The best you can do with current mobile technology is reduce the disappointment a candidate experiences.

The real questions are:

When is the right time to invest in mobile?

Early adopters are always wildly enthusiastic about the latest toy. In the case of mobile recruiting, each of the past seven years has been “the year that mobile recruiting really takes off.” On the one hand, early adopters generally get all of the competitive advantage from a new technology. On the other hand, the single most expensive time to invest in a new technology is in this early adopter phase.

In general, it’s still early by maybe a couple of years.

Even though the evangelists say you’ll miss and disappoint mobile users if you don’t get on board now,
the truth is that you’re going to disappoint those users anyhow. It’s a matter of degree. You’ll have to answer the question “How much disappointment is too much?” If the ultimate reality is that you will disappoint, timing of your investment really matters.

The timing of an investment in mobile technology involves balancing several factors: importance to your specific job hunters, the evolution of concepts and functions in the mobile recruiting toolkit, importance of quantifiable results, and organizational tolerance for ambiguity. The longer you can wait, the clearer it will get.

What functionality should mobile recruiting cover?

There are a whole host of features and functions (like the ability to actually apply for a job online) that are completely missing from the currently available mobile recruiting toolkit.

Most of what is currently offered by vendors can be easily accomplished (inexpensively) by using a responsive web design (anticipating mobile users when designing the core employment website). Unfortunately, mobile screen sizes prevent anyone from directly copying all of the core website’s functionality. Today, the primary characteristic of a mobile offering is that it is limited and small.

The minimum level of performance for a mobile recruiting website should be:

  • The ability to apply online
  • The ability to search jobs with results that are readable on a mobile device (pages with three results)
  • The ability to sign up for job alerts in specific areas
  • The ability to join a community and interact with other candidates and company employees
  • Access to publicly available information about the company (including reviews both negative and positive)
  • Insight into corporate culture
  • The ability to participate in screening (documents, references, tests)
  • The ability to get status on an application
  • The ability to schedule, cancel and reschedule appointments
  • Legally defensible integration with the ATS

How long will current mobile technologies last?

This is the real killer question from a capital investment perspective. By this time next year, you will know someone who owns Google glass. Within two or three years, mobile devices that are neither phone nor tablet will be taking market share at an accelerating pace. From that point on, new communications forms and shapes will be entering the marketplace rapidly..

Every business is going to have to make investment decisions for pure business reasons rather than keeping up with the advancement of technology. Moving forward, knowing which generations to skip may be the critical piece of business savvy.

It’s entirely possible that the smartphone revolution is already halfway done. The prospect of shorter technology cycles means that investments will have to pay for themselves over shorter life times. That means that bang for the buck will have to be significantly greater than “you’re going to miss the boat”

How do you make the mobile recruiting decision?

This decision has less to do with technology and more to do with the kinds of employees you want to recruit.

What do we do if we decide to postpone our mobile recruiting investment?

Perhaps you could post a small page at the mobile interface (your IT people can easily do this). The page should read something like “Working for us involves commitment. We think you’d do better with that in a non-mobile setting. Be sure to visit us at…..”

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