Studies Say Mobile is Key to Attracting Candidates Today
Many companies are still relying on career sites that are neither mobile-optimized nor user-friendly.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
An ever-increasing number of job candidates expect the job-application process to be as easy and intuitive as buying books on Amazon or choosing a movie on Netflix. They want regular updates on the status of their application. And they expect to be able to do all of it on their mobile phones.
That's the gist of two recent studies from vendors Phenom People and Yello.
"Look at your average day-to-day activity," says Chicago-based Yello's president and co-founder, Dan Bartfield. "Five years ago, would you have paid your bills or transferred money via your phone? Now, it's commonplace."
However, the studies suggest many companies will be playing catch-up: Yello's 2016 Recruiting Study, which queried more than 7,000 students and recent graduates, finds that 20 percent have applied for jobs via their mobile devices and 20 percent chose not to apply to a company solely because their career site was not mobile-friendly. Phenom People's State of the Talent Experience report, an audit of the "talent experience" at 400 of the world's largest companies, finds that only half (49 percent) have job-application processes that are "optimized" for mobile and desktop browsers.
Mahe Bayireddi, cofounder and CEO of Horsham, Pa.-based Phenom People, says the problem is that companies are overly focused on "process" rather than "experience" -- and the processes in question were designed 20 or more years ago.
"What's been happening in the last five years is that the foremost driving element in any product has been the user experience," he says. "But most recruiting products are still stuck back in 1994."
Online retailers such as Zappos, Amazon and Nike all have supply chain management systems, yet have created a "shopping layer" that puts the customer at the center of an experience that is designed to be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible so they will keep coming back, says Bayireddi. Applicant-tracking systems, by contrast, are designed from a process standpoint, with little thought given to the user experience, he says.
"Imagine if Amazon tried to sell books on a system designed like an ATS," says Bayireddi. "They'd have no customers!"
Bartfield says he was surprised that only 20 percent of the Yello survey respondents had applied to jobs via their phones.
"But then we dug a little deeper, we found that it was only 20 percent because so many companies have an ATS that doesn't support mobile," he says. "Many companies claim their processes are mobile friendly, but they're not."
Bartfield defines a mobile-optimized experience as one in which everything -- from viewing a job description and learning about a company to applying for the job and uploading a resume -- is easily done via phone.
Not everyone is comfortable applying for a job via their mobile device, he admits.
"Someone with 20 or so years of experience would probably use mobile as an entry point to try and learn more about a company, rather than apply for a job," says Bartfield. "But we deal with a lot of college recruiting, and the students and recent grads expect to be able to do all of it on their phones."