Mobile Recruiting's Next Wave

The process of finding talent through mobile devices evolves—again

By Dave Zielinski Apr 9, 2015
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It wasn’t long ago that having a responsive careers website and a mobile-friendly job application process were aspirational goals for recruiters, features restricted to a handful of progressive organizations. But today those functions are part and parcel of effective hiring strategies as mobile recruiting evolves into a new stage.

With the help of new mobile-optimized applications, enterprising recruiters are deploying smartphones and tablets for tasks once reserved for the desktop or laptop. They’re using mobile to deliver candidate skill assessments and personality quizzes, to push out a variety of video content that promotes individual jobs or corporate cultures, and for arranging complex interview scheduling tasks.

The result of these new functions is that mobile recruiting today is seen less as a stand-alone category and more a part of the talent acquisition mainstream.

Mobile Recruiting 2.0

To be sure, not every recruiting function has a mobile apply process or a mobile-responsive careers site (one that displays effectively on all screen sizes.) Yet, momentum is in that direction. According to the 2014 Corporate Mobile Readiness Report from research firm and recruiting platform provider iMomentous, more than half (261) of Fortune 500 companies now have a mobile-optimized careers site. That number is up from 180 companies boasting such a site in the third quarter of 2013. Organizations in the study with a mobile apply process grew from only 26 in 2013 to 87 last year.

“We are at a point where looking at mobile recruiting as a separate category no longer makes sense,” said Ed Newman, vice president of strategy for iMomentous. Treating mobile as an individual channel leads to fragmented recruiting strategies that fail to acknowledge most candidates use multiple devices in job searches, Newman said. It is better to view mobile as one part of a whole and focus on the totality of the candidate experience, he said.

“You can soup up your mobile experience, but if your desktop experience is still horrible and not integrated, what kind of consistent brand experience are you creating for candidates?” Newman asked.

The talent acquisition group at Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Md., has created a mobile-optimized careers site and will soon launch a mobile apply process. Recruiters also want to make it easy for mobile users to apply without resumes, said Jackie Robinson II, a senior program manager in recruiting at the company.

“When candidates join our talent network, they’ll be able to do so with their LinkedIn credentials and can be moved directly into our applicant tracking system with the same LinkedIn profile,” Robinson said. “We’re focused on creating a user-friendly and seamless process for our mobile candidates.”

New Mobile Recruiting Functions

Recruiting experts said these features are becoming more common in mobile recruiting strategies:

Video. As mobile-friendly video applications grow and bandwidth limitations become less of an obstacle to high-quality viewing, video has emerged as a force in mobile recruiting. Video viewing represented 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2014, according to Cisco’s Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update report.

“Whether it’s providing more job context for interested candidates, promoting employment brands or uses like video job descriptions, video is infiltrating everything mobile,” said Elaine Orler, CEO and founder of The Talent Function, a talent acquisition consulting firm in San Diego.

Orler, a former member of the Society for Human Resource Management Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel, said the growing use of video cover letters is an example of how the medium is being used by candidates to sell themselves in new ways to employers. Mobile platforms like WOWHire!, which allows candidates to create short video resumes, also enable employers to search or save video resumes from their own mobile devices.

Newman said companies like Ongig, which creates video-based rather than text job descriptions for its clients, are making video more pervasive in mobile channels.

“I think we’ll start to see more managers creating their own short videos about what it’s like to work for their team and their company with that clip made available to anyone applying,” Newman said. He noted the caveat that such day-in-the-life videos will need to be approved for public consumption by HR or other company officials.

Interview scheduling and candidate reviews. Recruiters and hiring managers are conducting more complex candidate interview scheduling and reviewing applicants’ recorded video interviews on mobile. New apps make such tasks easier.

Video interviewing provider HireVue, for example, offers a cloud-based solution that checks through Outlook calendars when multiple schedules need to be coordinated to accommodate interviews, or when interviews need rescheduling if hiring managers or recruiters run late.

“More of the core applicant tracking and talent management systems are starting to build scheduling functions into their platforms,” Orler said, noting these tools are likely to be mobile-friendly.

At Montage, a video interviewing provider in Delafield, Wis., mobile traffic to customers’ smartphones increased 340 percent in the past year, said company spokesperson Michele Ellner. Montage built a responsive user interface and native iOS and Android apps to enhance its on-demand and live video interviewing experiences on mobile.

Colleen Diercksen, associate director of talent acquisition operations at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, said that more than 50 percent of job candidates who’ve recorded on-demand Montage video interviews since late 2012 have done so with smartphones. “We’re seeing higher candidate acceptance for the mobile interview option,” Diercksen said.

Skill and personality assessments. Mobile-optimized assessments can help recruiters get a better read on candidates’ skill levels or personality types during the recruiting process. “Recruiting organizations are looking to capture that information from candidates on mobile in ways that don’t feel intrusive,” said Chris Brablc, director of marketing for SmashFly Technologies, a recruiting marketing company in Concord, Mass.

Brablc said test providers like San Francisco-based Good.Co are leading the trend. The company offers mobile-optimized personality assessments based on extensive psychometric research. “The quizzes generate data to help determine if candidates will be a good fit for the company, but in a light and fun way that doesn’t feel like an assessment,” Brablc said.

Integration Required

Given the diverse applications that mark mobile recruiting today, some experts believe the biggest need now is for integration strategies.

“The most important thing going forward will be how to tie everything together, especially when using recruiting solutions from different providers,” said Wen Tian, co-founder of SnapHop, an Atlanta-based talent acquisition solutions company.“There will be more solutions for every part of the recruiting life cycle, from sourcing to interviewing to onboarding. We need to ensure they are integrated with a mobile-first mentality.”

Dave Zielinski is a freelance business journalist in Minneapolis.

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