In 2002 the Recruitment Sales Director of eminent national newspaper took me out to lunch to show me their new “WAP” recruitment site. After an hour of him frantically pushing the buttons on his funky Nokia phone (which looked a bit like a brick) he gave up trying to connect saying the immortal and strangely familiar words - “It was working fine this morning”. Then, with the benefit of the short-term memory capability possessed only by media sales professionals and goldfish, he proceeded to tell me WAP was the future and next year would be the “Year of Mobile Recruitment”. I told him he was talking rubbish, he told me I lacked vision. Every year since then I’ve had at least one similar meeting, SMS Advertising, Text Back Services, Short Codes, MMS, GPRS, 2G, I’ve been there had the lunch, bought the T-Shirt and been very underwhelmed by their eventual non effect on the recruitment industry.
I’ve also personally tried to help this revolution take place. Back in 2005 my team were experimenting with SMS advertising for the Met Police and we also ran an edgy mobile campaign for Sainsbury's that ended up upsetting the Daily Mail (proving mobile was good for something!). Like everything else I’ve seen touted as the next big thing in mobile recruitment though they were just short lived fads that didn’t change anything.
At this point I have to be clear I believe that not only is recruitment going to go mobile but also that the job seekers out there are already demanding it. The arrival and growing uptake of smartphones has finally taken the technological barriers away. We also have to consider how mobile is already supporting the “traditional” recruitment process. SMS is so embedded into the UK business and social psyche, we tend to forget that we’ve actually been doing the kind of “mobile recruiting” our peers in the US are currently debating, for years!
So what’s the problem? Why am I so sure 2011 isn’t the year of mobile? Well there is a vital link in the chain still missing and no one is focusing on it. We know there are huge amounts of mobile traffic out there and all the major job boards are reporting a massive uplift in visits from smart phones. However I don’t think feeding this demand with yet more “me to” job search apps is the answer. Giving mobile job seekers access to even more mostly poorly written job ads with no opportunity to find out more, get context or take action just seems like madness!
As far as I’m concerned we will move no further forward until employers make their corporate career sites and application processes work properly for mobile. This year won’t be the year of mobile because at the moment most employers aren’t even thinking about it.
At a recent conference I asked an audience of over 200 in-house recruitment professionals how many of them knew what their recruitment website looked like on a iPhone, only one person put their hand up! At the same conference someone told me I was an idiot because “people are not interested in applying for jobs on their mobile phones”. My answer would be how do we know that if we’re currently not giving them the chance to do it!
So do I lack vision, am I an idiot, have I just pointed out the elephant in the room or do I just have a different definition of Mobile Recruitment to everyone else?
I’d love to know what you think………..