Mobile Recruiting Realities Leave Room for Improvement

I’ve never applied for a job for myself using my mobile phone. Just haven’t done it, with the only exception being testing mobile apps while working in product marketing for a talent acquisition solution provider.

However, I have searched for jobs for myself on my phone, my tablet and my laptop via LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, Glassdoor, Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, Dice and a myriad of company career sites. And I’ve even done further research on companies, reading online reviews and watching marketing videos.

But again, I personally have never applied for a job via a mobile device. Not even for starting an application. Not even on my iPad either. I’m a laptop power user and the heavy lifting of updating my resume, online profiles and completing any length of an application is done on my laptop.

I’m only one of millions of potential job applicants at any given time, however. And the investment continues in order to have a better mobile experience and overall candidate experience. What’s clear from both Talent Board’s 2014 and 2015 CandE Research reports is the fact that employers continue to invest heavily in mobile-enabled recruiting systems (see the chart below). (Talent Board is the non-profit organization that launched the Candidate Experience Awards and Research over five years ago.)


Mobile-EnabledAfter analyzing the data further with Talent Board co-founder, Gerry Crispin, as well as many other Talent Board data analyst volunteers, we found that 59 percent of all 2015 employer respondents specifically say they offer the ability to apply via a mobile device (not just offering a mobile-optimized recruiting system). When we take a look specifically at the top 50 2015 CandE Benchmark companies (i.e., the CandE Winners), 56 percent offer a mobile apply option (28 of the 50 winning firms).

Per the Benchmark Companies above (again, CandE Award Winners), and out of 130,000 total candidates who responded to our overall CandE survey, and 75,000 candidates responding to the application section, there were 20,614 candidates who responded to the the question “Did you use a mobile device to apply to [company name]?” We did not delineate type of device in our survey.

Out of the 20,614, only 10.1% of them said they did use a mobile device to apply. There were no non-definitive answers (maybes, etc.). The range per company of mobile apply came in at a low of 3.5 percent to a high of 22.8 percent.

Interestingly the remainder of the top ranked Benchmark Companies that said they did not offer a mobile apply option had 16,600 candidates respond to this question and 8% still said they applied with a mobile device. Also, Generation Z applied with a mobile device more often than any other population – 10 percent higher overall (but a much smaller population). There were no significant differences between genders.

There are other bodies of research in the recruiting industry that do measure how drop-off rates increase via mobile devices versus desktop computers the longer it takes to complete an application. There are also talent acquisition solution providers who state they have much higher mobile apply rates, per the confusion listed above.

Now, when you compare our data to other bodies of research, there are both differences and similarities, of which the latter include the realities of lower numbers of mobile apply. For example, in 2014 analyzed over 250,000 applications via desktops and mobile devices, and while they state that mobile research and apply has risen to 50 percent, for every 100 candidates who click through from a job advertisement to a recruitment portal on a desktop device, an average of eight will complete a job application. For mobile click-throughs, the completion figure is just 1.5 percent.

Also, Appcast’s data that was gleaned from a longitudinal study of every major applicant tracking system in 15 different industries, showed that mobile traffic converts at a significantly lower rate than desktop traffic. And those rates top out at 10 percent via mobile. Plus, the longer the online application, the farther the mobile apply rate drops. It’s not surprising that candidates may click through via a mobile device and start an application, but ultimately complete it on a laptop.

When you look at Pew Research Center data28% of Americans have used a smartphone as part of a job search, and half of these “smartphone job seekers” have used their smartphone to fill out a job application. 

What’s even more fascinating according to the Pew Research, many job seekers are using their phones for much more complex tasks:

  • 50% of smartphone job seekers (representing 14% of all adults) have used their smartphone to fill out an online job application.
  • 23% (representing 6% of all adults) have used their smartphone to create a resume or cover letter.

And according to the latest and last of its kind – the 2015 Source of Hire report from CareerXroads (Gerry Crispin and Chris Hoyt) – their Colloquium members (many of them well-known global organizations) represent about ~300,000 per year. When extrapolated to how many applications that equates, these companies believe to receive millions of candidates per year. Of these:

  • 2 percent use mobile devices to learn about their jobs
  • 3 percent use mobile devices research their firms, culture, people, etc.
  • 2 percent use mobile devices to apply for their jobs

To be clear, these companies aren’t saying that they are fully enabled in each of these areas. They are saying their candidates, regardless of how mobile enabled their company is, are still using mobile devices.

And while Talent Board does not measure application drop-off rates directly, or those candidates who research jobs online via mobile, or those candidates who simply start the application process and don’t complete, the candidates who complete the CandE survey are answering definitively that they actually applied for a job via a mobile device or not, and whether offered mobile apply directly or not.

So what can employers do to potentially increase mobile apply conversions? Mobile-optimized recruiting is key:

  • Ensure that the site is developed using responsive web design that adjusts to the device’s screen size.
  • Minimize the number of clicks, taps and swipes required to search and apply for jobs.
  • Be choosy about which content is included on your mobile careers site since candidates aren’t likely to spend time reading long paragraphs of information.
  • Make call to action buttons, like “Apply Now” or “Learn More,” large and easily clickable.
  • Allow candidates to apply through their device with minimum hassle, including connecting with their social media profiles.
  • Shorten the application process overall.
  • Ensure that embedded videos are sized appropriately and do not redirect the user to another site.
  • Test your site for mobile-friendliness using Google’s tool and then make adjustments as needed.

However, after all is said and done, the realities of mobile recruiting and mobile apply revealed in the now available 2015 CandE Research Report include the likely baseline that already exists among all candidates – around 8-10 percent overall – who will successfully apply using a mobile device regardless of whether the employer has made it available from a user-friendly perspective or not.

And although that leaves a lot of room for mobile candidate experience improvement, we know that between progressive employers and solution providers alike, candidates can count on it.

For more information about best practice recruiting and candidate experience, download the 2015 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience Research Report today.

Kevin W. Grossman
Talent Board
VP, NAM Program

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