graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software


What's all the fuss about mobile recruiting?
It’s been a busy month… the kind that wears out suitcases and relationships. When it’s all said and done, it will be 10 conferences and two analyst confabs in slightly less than seven weeks. Endless hotel rooms, 15 extra pounds, routines decimated. Great dinners, new friends, fumbled emails

I even skipped a week so I could get a little work done. That’s how the 2012 Index of Social Technology in HR and Recruiting found its way into the light.

If anyone was a mobile worker, it was me. With an iPhone, an Android, an iPad and my sleek MacAir crammed into my briefcase, I was ready to set up shop wherever and whenever I could slice a little time out of the dull roar of things passing by. Me and my four rectangles.

No wireless? The Android is a hotspot. Need to work on a document from the office? All four of the rectangles are synched to one set of files using SugarSynch. The moment the piece of work changes, all of the machines have the new version.

That’s what the future looks like from here. Pick the task appropriate rectangle and use it. Email and directions from the phone. Content for consumption on the iPad. Content production and data manipulation on the notebook.

Ease of input varies by the size of the rectangle. Laptops (and desktops) are good for big projects. I pads are good for small tasks. Phones are best for very pointed data entry and small decisions.

I watched my workflow and thought about Mobile Recruiting. My conclusion is that there’s no there there? There was not the slightest opening in my workflow for the consumption of advertising of any kind. The few bits of text spam I got made me mad.

From the candidate side,

  • No candidate will ever build a resume on the phone.
  • No candidate is likely to ever make a thoughtful job application on the phone.
  • Most job ads are unreadable on big screens; no one will ever read much of them on small screens

Bottom line? Mobile Recruiting is a great way to engineer a flood of ill considered applications that are of lower quality that people are already complaining about? Why? The tool (a phone) is ill suited for the rigors of job hunting. Research is impractical. Cover letters would have to include apologies for the implicit typos.

From the Recruiter’s side?

  • The phone is not a good place to evaluate resumes. They are best for smaller chunks of data.
  • The phone is good for scheduling (see Tungle) but that is not unique to Recruiting.
  • The phone is a bad place to do Boolean searches on Google.
  • The phone is a crummy place to write a job ad.
  • The phone is a bad place to do a video interview. (Though it might be an interesting place to watch them.)
  • The phone is a good place to respond to angry hiring managers with short notes.

All things considered, the only thing a Recruiter can reasonably do with her phone is answer some email.

From the hiring manager’s perspective, the phone is a great way to check up on the errant Recruiter and complain about how long things are taking.

So, would someone please educate me about why there’s so much fuss about mobile Recruiting? I just don’t see it.

graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software

  • Does mobile mean “phone” – or does mobile mean cloud?  Mobile isn’t about device it’s about access.

    Design for access not devices… that should be the discussion.

  • One thing the phone is still a good place for is actually talking to candidates 🙂

  • That’s exactly the question, Paul.

    John Sumser
    My profiles: [image: Facebook] [image: LinkedIn] [image: Twitter]
    Contact me: [image: Google Talk] johnrsumser [image: Skype] john.sumser

    John Sumser
    My profiles: [image: Facebook] [image: LinkedIn] [image: Twitter]
    Contact me: [image: Google Talk] johnrsumser [image: Skype] john.sumser

  • Mobile devices are great for a lot of things. Most of what I’ve seen positioned as ‘mobile recruiting’ boils down to the targeting of advertising to prospective employees.

    John Sumser
    My profiles: [image: Facebook] [image: LinkedIn] [image: Twitter]
    Contact me: [image: Google Talk] johnrsumser [image: Skype] john.sumser

  • I totally agree 🙂

  • The buzz is about engaging candidates whenever and where ever they are.  The buzz is about the fact that in many areas of the world, the mobile web is the way that increasing majorities of populations are only accessing the web (i.e. the only way that many will ever see & interact your career website).  The buzz is about the day that will come very soon that you can easily apply on your mobile device by uploading your resume from the cloud, or maybe even your mobile device, and have it parse into an mobile enabled application form.  The buzz is about capturing info on prospects through your mobile enabled CRM.

    To respond to your concerns, parsing is the key to mobile-based applications taking off.  Nobody reads job ads in detail, regardless of the size of the screen.  Recruiters will likely continue to be limited by what they can do on a mobile-enabled ATS.  At the very least, they can and should today be using it to text those candidates who want to be communicated with through that medium.

    Mobile is becoming increasingly important in recruiting, it’s still too early to hear the big success stories, but they will come, and they will come from outside the US faster than than from inside the US.  Make it simple and accessible, and they will come…

  • Sorry I missed your point.  But to answer your question… the buzz about mobile (insert anything here or recruiting as per this post) is that when there is little differentiation in the core offering you look for differentiation in areas that are “hot” – hence mobile.

    I’d throw “gamification” into that bucket as well.  Gamify anything to get your app noticed whether it is the right thing or not.

    Differentiation on things that don’t differentiate is called marketing today.

  • You know, I hear that a lot. “Mobile is important because it’s going to be big in the future. Just look at how big it is and how fast it’s growing.” It’s a circular argument and I’m looking for a shred of something other than hypotheticals.

    I agree that mobile devices are great data collection tools. I agree that status notifications are important and that candidates should be communicated with in their preferred media.

    I doubt that many Recruting problems will be solved by focusing on making job descriptions readable on cell phones. I know that any interesting job application requires more thought than you can give a decision made on a phone.

    My bet is that the net result of a focus on mobile will result in a flood of ill considered applications that increase the workload of recruiters.
    Where, exactly, do you think we’ll see big success stories?

  • For job descriptions, one benefit could be that it would force recruiters to be more clear, concise and brief in how they craft them.  Regardless, I don’t think most people read them in detail anyway, regardless in the format.  An active job seeker sees a ‘Software Engineer’ job with a certain company at a certain location, they take a quick read of the responsibilities and determine there if they want to apply or not.  I would bet that most active candidates spend as much time reading job descriptions as recruiters do with their first scan of a resume.

    As far as the big success stories, we are starting to hear more and more about the traffic that mobile-enabled sites and apps are pulling in.  Those numbers will grow considerably as candidates are exposed to these sites more and more.  There are already twice as many corporate mobile-enabled sites than there were just 6 months ago, which isn’t alot, but it is progress.

    Again, the success stories will likely be more overseas where SMS is the predominant form of communication in some countries, and where the mobile web is the predominant means of access to the internet (India, Egypt, 290M users in China, etc.).  We have a very interesting SMS/QR campaign underway in Europe right now that is driving very good traffic directly to jobs at one of our highest profile new properties.  We should know in the next few weeks what the quality of this new traffic looks like (via interviewed candidates and hires).

    Overall, it’s still early and everyone is still on the upswing, but I strongly believe that we are within 12-18 months of seeing this really explode into the mainstream.

  • My latent interest in mobile recruiting is more along the lines of employment branding, initial engagement.  While the tablet can be a platform for viewing taking some of the actions  you mention above, the (smart)phone can be an initial engagement {qr code or txt code} or (if indicated by the prospect) preferred method of contact (sms).  These examples are purely for the visitor/audience, not for the recruiter.  So I would give a qualified “agree” to your line of thinking. 

  • I am ready to bet on mobiles to reduce the cycle time in hiring process by at least 25% by alerting concerned players of events as they happen and by making some of the alerts actionable by simple Y/N response or by saving to contacts or calendar

  • Tzinz

    Great post and glad we can hear someone start the debate – :). Apply with LinkedIn profile will help the candidate side, but still a LONG way to go

  • Ryan Leary

    John, I couldn’t agree more. Mobile is really hyped up. Though I see uses the vast majority of anything mobile is not there yet and I am not convinced it will be. I don’t even own a smart phone, I don’t text and I can’t email from my phone… (I know that I am alone on that one.)

    Mobile however is great for driving additional traffic to career / mobile enhanced sites. The traffic coming from mobile on our end is increasing fairly rapid to our landing pages. 

    That being said should you have a 1 step process that works similar to the “log in with your Facebook account” feature you see everywhere to allow the prospect to submit their LI profile or answer 3 yes/no questions… that could help.

    If your app were to grab their contact info from an embeded vcard on their phone and parse that in your ATS and funnel them as a prospect looking to be contacted…that may be useful.

    Still so far away though.

  • I think of a mobile recruiting world where candidates/college students can be at a career fair, scan a QR code, that takes them to a landing page where they just sync their Linkedin or Facebook profile in one click and done! Their professional history and contact information is synced into the company database or talent community and the recruiters match positions to them rather than matching jobs to people. Also, applying for a job with Linkedin’s new Apply with linkedin feature turns your Linkedin profile into a resume and submits it directly into the company’s ATS…thats a step in the right direction as well. Goodbye paper resumes and uploading files! However, in most cases and for most companies, mobile recruiting just isn’t there yet. There is not enough intelligent design and most companies’ infrastructures for application management is build around ancient ATS’s based on old database technology. It’s going to be a few years….

  • John great thought piece. I agree that mobile is not there yet from the candidate’s point of view. It can be there from an employers point of view if they actually care about candidates, but very few do and are missing on a huge opportunity to turn candidates into candidates. Mobile as some have said will be great once more apps are on board to make it easy to access and apply on-line. I believe it will happen as long as you have on-line and social profiles online. And do you really want to hire people who dont’ a few years down the line.

    So thanks for this.

  • Very realistic article. Thanks to take us down to the Earth!
    I see mobile recruiting as a possible trend, actually full of “if’s”:
    – If the career site is mobile fiendly
    – If the candidate is already in the database of the career site
    – If LinkedIn develops a mobile button “sign with LinkedIn”
    – If a letter or a customized CV is not required (or see 1st “if”)

    From the recruiter’s perspective I cannot imagine any CV checking or searching but it could be a good complement to other tools like the dashboard.

    Mobile recruitment will certainly develop with new apps which will make easier for the candidate to apply to a job. But as social recruiting has not killed headhunting, mobile recruiting is not going to replace but complement e-recruiting (or cloud, or simply Recruiting”
    Thanks for your article, John!

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  • One thing is clear : there is currently too much complexity in recruiting for it to be brought to mobile. I do however think that if we make the engagement process easier, then mobile becomes an ideal sourcing platform.
    At SmartRecruiters, we just released a free Mobile Career Site to all of customers ( It’s a first step but we’ll continue to invest in mobile recruiting. Simply because it forces us to remove complexity and focus on what matters: Find and engage with great candidates. 

  • Jerome Ternynck

    I personally love mobile recruiting because it forces us to remove complexity from our over-engineering automated recruiting/tracking engines. At the end of the day, all that matters is how to find great candidates and engage with them in an easy way.

    At SmartRecruiters, we just released mobile Career Sites for each of our 10,000+ customers ( It’s only a first step but making things easy for mobile access is a very good exercise.

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