Why Mobile Recruiting is now my top priority

I’ve just got back from the fantastic Mobile Recruiting Camp conference. Not only was this the first global event of its kind it was also excellent and the legend that is Michael Marlatt deserves huge plaudits for organizing it The event reminded me very much of the first Social Recruiting conference three years ago. There was a real sense that a major shift is happening and while recruitment case studies are still shockingly thin on the ground there was some great thinking as well as an insight into how mobile is dramatically changing business in other industries. Perhaps more importantly though these kind of events give you the opportunity to reflect and focus on a single topic for a dedicated period of time and that’s exactly what I was doing while I was there.

Back in January I wrote a post saying I didn’t think 2011 was going to be the year of mobile, mainly because of a lack of knowledge from employers, and I still stand by my thinking. However what the conference has done is instill in me a sense of priority and urgency that 2012 absolutely needs to be the year of mobile in our industry. If not employers run a massive risk of eroding the candidate experience even further and finding it even harder to attract the talent they need.

So why do I say this? Well there are several reasons but perhaps the most compelling is the fact that all employers actually have a mobile site already even if they don’t realize it. The stats round smart phone adoption and mobile Internet usage are mind blowing. There are 5.5 billion mobile phones in circulation globally and in the US, which has traditionally been behind the curve in mobile adoption, 50% of the population will have a smart phone by the end of the year. 90% of mobile users use search engines on their phone and if you also take into account that a large number of people are likely to be following links in “jobs by email” services directly on their mobile devices, most employers will already getting a significant amount of mobile phone traffic to their sites.

Unfortunately though hardly any of these sites are optimized for mobile meaning an even poorer and frustrating experience for candidates. Interesting Google is about to start giving mobile optimized sites higher preference in its search algorithm so this issue is only going to get bigger

It’s not just about making the sites easier to view on a small screen though it’s also about taking into account the differing behavior of users who are accessing the web while mobile. Mobile internet use is highly action orientated rather than a passive browsing experience which certainly makes the stat mentioned by Career Builder, that 1.2 million applications came from their mobile platform during August, make a lot of sense.

During the conference the big elephant in the room of mobile recruiting was pointed to several times. This is of course the inability / unwillingness of the major ATS providers to adapt their platforms to give a credible mobile experience for applicants. I find this frankly surreal and when several global heads of talent acquisition are calling you out on this at a conference you would have thought the major global ATS provider sitting behind me would have at least joined in the debate rather than sitting there in silence. This is going to be a massive issue moving forward. Taleo, Lumesse and Kenexa seem to get away with their silence based on a  “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” syndrome which their big corporate clients have had for the last five years or so. Based on what was being said by some of their major clients at the conference this is a syndrome I can’t see lasting much longer! If the ATS providers don’t listen to their clients and join the mobile debate soon, their current dominance will be very short lived indeed.

I’m going to be writing a lot more about mobile in the coming months as well as undertaking some research that I’ll publish more details on shortly. I’ll also be suggesting strongly to my clients that they make mobile their top recruitment marketing priority. If you an employer who is struggling to find the talent you need, then it absolutely should be your top priority as well.