zack-morris-phoneThe concept of candidate experience has become so ubiquitous to the recruiting conversation it’s become something of a cliché, a commoditized, catch all catch-phrase that’s grist for the content marketing and consulting mill. Which means it’s a lot like “mobile recruiting,” that other obnoxiously omnipresent talent technology trending topic.

Both candidate experience and mobile seem to be front of mind for most frontline recruiting and staffing practitioners (judging from their prevalence in product marketing and online punditry).

There seems to be some consensus on the importance of improving both mobile and candidate experience, both at an individual and organizational level. Additionally, there’s an industry wide understanding driving those the improvement recruitment so desperately needs comes down to drastically changing the tactics and tools of traditional talent acquisition.

Unlike so many of the silly buzzwords or superfluous concepts disguised as best practices by those selling services or software (or, commonly, software as a service), mobile and candidate experience are really a thing (unlike, say, ‘culture marketing’) – and really important to recruiting and staffing success.

Which makes you wonder why recruiting still sucks so badly at both mobile and candidate experience. The answer might lie in the fact that the two are, in fact, inexorably intertwined, and should be viewed as complementary, rather than competing, concepts.

Can You Hear Me Now? Mobile Recruiting & Candidate Experience

While candidate experience is largely seen in the strategic and process purview, and mobile tends to be seen largely through the lens of recruiting technology, the fact remains that making a meaningful change to candidate experience means first making a meaningful change to their mobile experience.

As outlined in previous posts, customers are consumers, and therefore expect a consumer level experience when searching for and submitting information online. If you’re reading this post, statistically speaking, you’re likely to be doing so on a mobile device.

According to Comscore, over 60% of all online traffic now originates from mobile devices; with SEO firm BrightEdge reporting that smartphones and tablets together now accounting for fully 1/3 of organic search traffic.

Since studies repeatedly show online search strategies to be similar for consumers and candidates, this means that about 3 out of every 5 candidates are reading your job descriptions or viewing your career sites on a mobile device.

The problem is that no matter how sexy your careers site, no matter how compelling your job description copy or engaging your social media content might be is, candidates who are actually answering your call to action on mobile have no way to actually become applicants, a recent CareerBuilder study suggests.

The Sorry State of Mobile Recruiting

In their newly released report, How the Candidate Experience Is Transforming HR TechnologyCareerBuilder surveyed hundreds of hiring professionals and candidates to understand where mobile recruiting is at today, where it’s going tomorrow and its overall impact on candidate experience.

Nearly one half of all employers responding to the survey reported that they offer no way for candidates to access their ATS on mobile devices; only 38% responded that they had a mobile apply process to begin with. Think about how perplexing this is for a minute.

Imagine trying to check out from an e-commerce site like Amazon or eBay on your phone, only to be told that, sorry, you need to try again when you’re on a desktop. You’d likely never complete that purchase, whether out of frustration or forgetfulness.

Preventing this customer churn is why e-commerce sites have aggressively invested in building and optimizing mobile experiences. The same thing is happening to candidates before they can even begin your application process – and 60% of those who actually can won’t even finish that because it’s too long, according to CareerBuilder data.

Of course, 57% of employers have no way of capturing the information of candidates who don’t’ apply, meaning, statistically speaking, the resumes you’re receiving are in spite, not because of, your recruiting process and recruitment marketing initiatives. That 16% of respondents “weren’t sure” whether or not their ATS allowed candidates to apply via mobile is, frankly, perplexing – a reminder how rarely recruiters actually audit their own processes, much less demand their providers offer the features and functionalities that really matter.

Here’s a helpful hint: if you’re not sure whether or not your ATS is enabled on a mobile device, you need to be. Pick up your phone and open your careers site, already. Seriously.

Mobile Recruiting: The Legacy Issues of Legacy Systems

Using ATS with mobile apply capabilities (source: CareerBuilder)

The CareerBuilder survey found 46% of employers report that they are aware of the fact that their ATS doesn’t offer mobile apply capabilities and aren’t doing anything about it.

When asked why they were so behind the rest of the world (literally) on mobile adoption, 28% replied they hadn’t made the investment in the technology; another 18% said that they didn’t have the resources to invest in the first place.

GEM Recruiting AI

This perceived limitation in resources to support mobile seems to be a critical reason so many employers aren’t more aggressively pursuing these solutions.

This is absolutely asinine, of course; the study showed that approximately 20% of those of respondents were paying more than $3,000 or more per hire, on average (20% had no idea what they were paying, for comparison), and 52% filled 25 or more open positions last year.

Helpful hint: if you’re spending that kind of money on recruiting, you’ve got the resources required for mobile.

With so many hires attributed to job boards (19%) and career sites (19%) from survey respondents, one can assume that a majority of the candidates generated by investing in those traffic sources – rightfully so, given their efficacy – are falling off due to the fact that they’re accessing these platforms via a mobile device. Which means your pipeline has a leak before you’ve even begun to build it simply by not offering mobile apply functionality.

Besides resource constraints, the other primary driver for mobile seems to be technical limitations. Which is similarly silly, considering that nearly half of respondents (49%) reported to using 2-3 systems, and fully 14% reported using 4 or more HR systems in their talent organization.

Here’s another helpful hint: if you’ve got more than 1 system, and it doesn’t’ support mobile, than you’re investing in point solutions that won’t actually solve your most pressing recruitment priority. Of course, if you don’t’ measure mobile traffic to your ATS, like approximately 1/3 of organizations responding to the CareerBuilder survey, then you don’t’ realize the staggering opportunity cost you’re paying by sticking in systems stasis.

If you did, you’d already be doing something about it.

Survey Says: The True Cost of Ignoring Mobile Recruiting

Believe company is missing out on talented applications because it does not offer ATS through mobile devices.
Believe company is missing out on talented applications because it does not offer ATS through mobile devices. (source: CareerBuilder)

Ignorance might be bliss, because recruiters largely seem both blissfully unaware – and ignorant -about the true impact of mobile on their recruiting efficiency and efficacy, particularly as it relates to candidate experience.

Job seekers responding to the CareerBuilder study reported that a quick application process (54%); open jobs for the company are easy to find (48%) and that the application process allows them to highlight their relevant skills (40%) were among the top characteristics of a good candidate experience.

These outcomes are all negatively impacted by not having a mobile recruiting strategy in place to make finding and applying for jobs easier for candidates – or even possible, considering the fact that approximately 82% of job seekers report to using a mobile device in their most recent job search, and 9 in 10 report they plan on leveraging mobile the next time they look for a job. Those statistics alone make a pretty compelling case.

Furthermore, most fully-employed (aka “passive”) candidates rely on mobile during their job search to bypass their company’s network controls, firewalls and monitoring, and mobile usage/adoption is actually significantly higher among diverse candidates than the rest of the job seeker population, according to the ComScore study.

Passive job seekers and/or diverse candidates have always been placed at something of a premium by both internal and agency recruiters (not to mention their clients), which undermines the study’s most surprising finding: a whopping 90% of employers who don’t have mobile recruiting capabilities think that this means they’re missing out on talented applicants.

Yeah. Survey says: you’re an idiot. Seriously.

If you don’t think missing mobile means missing out on top talent, you’re missing the most obvious, and most essential, way to increase applicant flow and quality while improving the candidate experience and staying ahead of the competition.

Which is kind of the entire point of recruiting to begin with.

To learn more about how candidate experience is transforming HR Technology, click here for a full copy of CareerBuilder’s latest study, along with the insights, observations and action items talent pros need to know in order to put the human back in Human Resources.


Disclaimer: Recruiting Daily was compensated by CareerBuilder for this post. But their data and action items are actually pretty priceless, so in this case, the facts and opinions contained herein do, in fact, represent those of the publisher. Because we’re all about making candidate experience better, too.


By Matt Charney

Matt serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions and is a partner for RecruitingDaily the industry leading online publication for Recruiting and HR Tech. With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.”