Debate: Mobile Recruiting 1 This week, we’re launching a new feature. From time to time, we’re going to have a debate in the pages of the HRExaminer. The debate will be followed by an edition of the radio show that takes up where the debate left off. The format is simple. One day, I will ask and answer a question. It will be sent to the other participant who will have a short time to respond. Both pieces will be published on the same day.

The following day, the roles will be reversed with the participant choosing and answering the question first. We’ll be experimenting with length (sometimes one piece, sometimes all week). The conversation will be sponsored by the participant’s company. The debate concludes with that week’s episode of the HRExaminer Radio Show.

First up is Ed Newman from iMomentous. Be sure to catch him on Friday’s Radio Show.

John Sumser debates mobile recruiting on  HRExaminer

John Sumser debates mobile recruiting on

Mobile: The State of the Market Question: After nearly a decade of big rhetoric about mobile being the ‘next thing in recruiting’, why is it that only 5% of the Fortune 500 have a effective mobile recruiting presence? Sumser: In fairness, the stats are all over the place. CareerBuilder says it’s 20%. The 5% number is taken from an iMomentous survey that defines mobile recruiting adoption as “actually enable a candidate to apply to a job”. That same survey notes that 37% of the Fortune 500 have no presence at all. After a decade of availability, most of the Fortune 500 was on its second generation of career site. Let’s stop for a moment and get the definitions right. On one level, there are no recruiters who are not using mobile tools for recruiting. Virtually every transaction in the recruiting process is touched by email and virtually every recruiter uses a mobile device to handle some or all of their digital correspondence. For this discussion, Mobile Recruiting refers to having a web presence that is accessible via a mobile device that allows a candidate to discover and apply for a job from that device. So, why is it taking so long for mobile to become a standard part of the corporate recruiting arsenal? There are a host of reasons:

  • Mobile Recruiting, in its current forms, mimics the conventional career website which in turn mimics a job board. The current model of a career website is rooted in classified advertising. The company posts a job, candidates apply, recruiters skinny down the pile of applicants to an acceptable minimum. This recruiting model may be appropriate for mass hiring, it doesn’t work as well for upper level positions. Recruiting budgets tend to be spent on higher level positions
  • HR and Recruiting are not the drivers of mobile communications policies. The rest of the organization has not settled on its approach to mobile. While consumer facing companies have been quick to experiment with mobile websites, few have adopted mobile whole heartedly. In the non-consumer sectors, progress is much slower. According to Pure Oxygen Labs, only 6% of Fortune 500 sites met Google’s best practice criteria. 44% of the Fortune 100 had no mobile presence at all. This makes it look like mobile adoption is not driven by the desires of the HR/Recruiting Department.
  • Mobile Recruiting demands fast decision making. In general, mobile cleaves work into two piles: fast stuff and slow stuff. Mobile takes the fast stuff and leaves the rest for more thoughtful environments. It’s not at all clear that companies want prospective employees to make career decisions on the fly. Nor is it likely that potential employees see this as a good idea.
  • Mobile Recruiting serves “active candidates”. Labor shortage rhetoric aside, unemployment is high, workforce participation is at an historic low and the biggest selling recruiting tool (LinkedIn) targets passive candidates. Most contemporary recruiting training teaches recruiters to target and hunt. Being a resume filter is very 1990s. In it’s penultimate form, mobile recruiting is a tool for reaching people who are looking for work. The money os flowing towards ‘passive candidates’.

In short, mobile recruiting is a tool that targets the wrong audience. While it may be powerfully useful for low wage high turnover positions (McDonald’s has an award winning mobile recruiting operation), it seems like it will be a while before McKinsey joins the club. The final reason that mobile is taking so long to reach the recruiting market is simple. No one has yet offered a really compelling value to the corporate buyer. Currently, mobile recruiting tools barely deliver what’s already available. In many cases they don’t even do that much.

Ed Newman on

Ed Newman debates Mobile Recruiting on

Ed Newman responds: As with any new trend there is always a lot of hype that will make you raise an eyebrow and wonder if it’s real. Mobile recruiting has been no different. There has been such an intense focus on the rapid adoption of mobile devices and how they have changed our lives it might lead you to believe the technology has been available for a decade. But in reality it has only been a few short years since the first mobile career sites emerged in the middle of 2010. Even if we use June of 2007 and the initial launch of the iPhone as the starting point we are only 6 ½ years in. If you put this on a parallel timeline with web technology it’s about 1998 and from my perspective the adoption rate of mobile recruiting is very similar to where we were with corporate career sites. For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that we should be moving much faster this time around and revisit the question at hand. Why has adoption of mobile career sites among the Fortune 500 been so low? Here is my take:

  • The mobile apply process is by far the lowest area of adoption with only 5% of the Fortune 500 stepping up to the challenge. As companies contemplate mobile apply, they are faced with a much bigger dilemma. Their desktop apply process is already so ugly and complicated that replicating it to a 4 inch screen will only make it worse. As companies continue to make the candidate experience a top priority and reengineer the overall application process, mobile apply will become mainstream. If you doubt it, can you remember when we used to question whether all job seekers would be willing to apply online?
  • With the focus of mobile recruiting exclusively on the career site, there is a natural organizational conflict between HR and corporate marketing that is slowing adoption. This is almost identical to what occurred in the 1990s. As the web emerged and companies grappled with the establishment of corporate web pages, HR departments moved concurrently to get their jobs online. Among the early adopters of mobile this same fragmentation is evident as more than 36% of corporations with mobile web sites have no link to careers, and also have separate mobile career sites that are not easy to find. Companies will eventually figure out an integrated approach just like we did in 2001. It is inevitable.
  • Up to this point mobile recruiting has been a knee jerk reaction to the interface problem, and the fact that most implementations are only a mobile reflection of the desktop career site is limiting any game changing results. The solutions market is very early in its evolution, but growing rapidly. Once a few pioneers take full advantage of this new medium and generate real value, the definition of mobile recruiting will broaden well beyond the corporate career site. It will become a driver of operational change throughout the recruiting and hiring process.

Unlike the preceding technology trends of Internet Recruiting, and Social Recruiting, Mobile Recruiting as the market currently defines it is not really a choice. You had a choice to post jobs on Monster or stick to print media and classifieds. You had a choice to set up LinkedIn or Facebook pages or Tweet. But with the mobile trend, candidates can access your career site and social pages from a mobile web browser even if you have not optimized the content. It sort of makes the question of adoption a moot point; the job seekers have decided for us and you are mobile recruiting whether you want to or not. The only question that remains is how good is their mobile experience?

Other posts in this series:

Ed Newman Bio: Ed is an entrepreneur with a deep background in Human Resources and Talent Management. He currently serves as the Vice President of Strategy for iMomentous, a recruiting technology company. Prior to joining iMomentous he was the founder of, a community web site designed for people with interests in Talent Management Technology. Ed was also the founder of The Newman Group and served as its President from 1999 through 2007 when it was acquired by Korn/Ferry International.

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