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Imagine your CEO's reaction if the marketing and sales team informed her that more than 50 percent of customers used a mobile device to access a recent promotion, but 98.5 percentabandoned the sale because the process was too complicated. Yikes.

Well, this rate of success (or lack thereof) happens every day in millions of businesses when it comes to recruiting—and no one seems to raise an eyebrow. The business case for improving mobile recruitment is compelling, but for some baffling reason, it gets little attention. Why?

The Employer-Job Seeker Disconnect

Despite flashing lights pointing to the obvious, marketing and recruiting are often treated as independent functions. Even when HR and management acknowledge that they need to step up their game to attract and acquire more qualified workers, many recruiters view the world of search through the eyes of the personal computer. On the other side, the candidates they seek perform most of their job seeking on mobile devices.

Let me make my point crystal clear: Viewing a job posting on a 27-inch monitor (or even a 17-inch one for that matter) with a full sized keyboard and mouse is a far cry from reading and responding on a 5-inch touchscreen.

Today, 85 percent of Americans ages 18-29 are smartphone owners, as are 78 percent of college graduates. Put yourself in the shoes of a job candidate. What do your job postings look like on his or her smartphone? Now, you might understand why your applicant rate sits at 2 percent of viewers.

Time to Optimize for Mobile

If companies want to attract young top talent, it's crucial to optimize your career site for mobile.

Let's start at the beginning of the job application process. Reading about a job opportunity is like reading the inside flap on a book—job descriptions are designed and written to get candidates to want more. But what happens after the candidate clicks “Apply Now"?

It might not take much skill to hunt-and-peck a desktop keyboard to fill in multiple fields of a job application or search for and upload a resume, but what is a candidate supposed to do with a downloadable form on a smartphone? Asking a candidate to fill in lots of information in a job application that is not optimized for mobile devices is just as bad. Even for the thumb-savvy-always-messaging Millennial, most application processes are simply frustrating and overwhelming.

Instead, candidates want quick, easy application processes. If a candidate can't start to apply on a mobile device, he's as good as gone.

The Key to a Mobile Career Site

In order to optimize your application process for mobile, first think about the length. If it takes 15 minutes or longer or requires the applicant to complete 15 or more questions, expect to see more than a 300 percent increase in abandonment.

It's not uncommon to see mobile job applications that are 10 pages long: 55 percent are 5 pages long, and 21 percent are more than 10 pages. Every question you can eliminate improves the likelihood a candidate will complete the application. In a low-supply, high-demand recruitment environment, recruiters can double or triple applications and slash recruitment costs by streamlining mobile applications across the board.

Most applicant tracking software productsoffer mobile-friendly applications. Since this is your first point of contact with a candidate, ask only the questions you absolutely need to know if a candidate meets minimum basic qualifications. You can always request additional info later.

As the cost of talent acquisition accelerates, mobile recruiting is increasingly critical. If your candidates can't read and apply to your job opportunity quickly on a small mobile screen, expect to pour more dollars down the recruitment rabbit hole with little to show for it.

Photo: Creative Commons