Recruiting Goes Mobile

Technology places candidates in palm of recruiters' hands

By Aliah D. Wright Nov 12, 2009

It’s 5 p.m. and a recruiter’s just been asked to find a candidate for a software company in Japan, but her workday is over and she’s shuttling her kids to soccer practice.

While her children are out on the field, she opens her iPhone and scrolls to AutoSearch, an application (app) that searches the web and such sites as LinkedIn, Twitter, Zoominfo and Jobster—even wish lists—and she finds several candidates’ mobile phone numbers. She shoots them a text to gauge interest.

ABC Corp. has an opening for which Candidate Q feels immensely qualified. But Q is nowhere near a computer. Q opens his handheld device and sends ABC a link to his resume via text. Or, better yet, an e-mail telling them his curriculum vitae (CV) is on ResumePal (which stores resumes in an online profile) and he can upload it to the job’s site later.

This isn’t the future.

This is now.

Driven by Convenience

Recruiters and technology experts say the way people apply for jobs and the ways in which recruiters look for candidates are evolving rapidly. They add that using a mobile device and having job boards and recruitment sites optimized for such devices simply makes sense—provided recruiters are keeping records and using diverse means to search for candidates so they don’t run afoul of any laws.

“It’s the convenience,” says Lori Fenstermaker, a 17-year recruiting veteran and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) member who founded AutoSearch in 2007 in Grand Rapids, Mich. AutoSearch allows recruiters to find prospective candidates and business leads by typing in key words (such as job title or company name) and targeting a geographic location anywhere. It searches the aforementioned sites but not paid sites such as

Autosearch isn’t alone in this space. Peopleclick, Kenexa and U.K.-based Workhound have recently unveiled or were planning to unveil mobile platforms that help recruiters manage talent acquisition via mobile devices.

Billions Use Mobiles

There are 4.5 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, according to Market Intelligence Center, an ICT industry research institute based in Taipei, Taiwan. According to an April 2009 survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, about 85 percent of Americans have cell phones and 32 percent have accessed the Internet with a mobile device.

With statistics like these, experts say, it is critical that HR professionals make sure that their recruitment sites are optimized for mobile devices—and make certain those sites have the same capabilities and functionalities as their full corporate sites.

Not everyone has a computer, but nearly everyone texts, SHRM Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel member Elaine Orler and president of Talent Function pointed out during the recent HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Chicago. “From a global perspective, the ability to have portability” will be critical. “It will allow people to get access to your jobs faster,” she said.

Peopleclick Mobile provides HR professionals and managers the ability to approve requisitions while they’re on the go, to review reports and dashboards presented by the Peopleclick Business Intelligence Platform and to manage interview schedules via mobile device as well as e-mail and text message whether they are using a BlackBerry, an iPhone or an iTouch device or mobile phone equipped with Windows Mobile.

“Kenexa is accelerating the delivery of additional mobile capabilities to further revolutionize the job search and recruiting process,” company CEO Rudy Karsan stated in a release. With its new mobile platform, corporate recruiters and hiring managers can use their mobile devices to contact job seekers and schedule interviews. Job candidates can apply for job openings with just a few clicks on their mobile devices, the release states.

More is on the way—upcoming Kenexa features will allow mobile contact management, including the capability to review and contact candidates with a click; the ability to advance them through the application workflow and provide increased visibility to candidates in real-time; the ability to approve requisitions using mobile devices; and the means to view “unified talent records”— for internal and external candidates—all on the go. Eventually, candidates will be able to view available positions at a company’s career site, apply for jobs and submit cover letters.

Workhound’s Real-Time Jobs is an iPhone app that allows job seekers to find job offers via their iPhones. With a single click, job seekers can attach an online CV, social media profile and/or a video CV to job offers that have been posted to Twitter, reports Workhound. In its publicity materials, Workhound describes Real-Time Jobs as an “on-the-go solution that allows job seekers to find and apply for positions before the jobs even appear elsewhere on the web.”

Added Fenstermaker: “We’re living in a very immediate society here in the U.S., and we are often sitting in line waiting for things. So many people have these devices” that it has become increasingly convenient to use a mobile phone for much more than just making a phone call.

Sami Mäkeläinen, an Australia-based independent telecom and Internet consultant, has published a best-practices list for making a mobile-optimized web site, which you cansee here. Essentially, the blogger writes:

  • Make a “light” version of your site.
  • Don’t skimp on the content.
  • Take it easy with the ads.
  • Don’t use Java because depending on the browser and the mobile device, Java isn’t configured to work on most cell phones.
  • Make redirection to the mobile site automatic.
  • Allow access to the full site.

“Another [innovative] thing recruiters are doing is … text-messaging candidates,” said Fenstermaker. They do so simply by finding their mobile numbers on their LinkedIn profile or CV published online. AutoSearch’s iPhone app allows recruiters to click on candidates’ phone numbers and “tap it and send them an SMS message.” Candidates found via Twitter can be sent an @message or Direct Message (DM) using a downloadable Twitter application for the iPhone. The AutoSearch app, which was launched in mid-September 2009, was not yet available for BlackBerry, Google’s Android Phone or the Palm Pre.

Fenstermaker says recruiters “who really want to stay plugged in” need to be aware of these and other new technologies.

Even a year ago, Fenstermaker says, people didn’t use their mobile devices nearly as much as they do now.

“I think mobile computing is a huge wave right now,” adds Steve Toole, vice president, Employer Marketing for, the creators of ResumePal.

“Job-site developers and careers-site developers need to have enough need and demand to build those applications for mobile devices. Right now we're not seeing huge demand for employers and candidates for mobile optimization. But we’re seeing it increase. ... I think it's just a question of time."

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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