How To Stop Ignoring Mobile

According the latest OFCOM report, smartphones are now the UK’s most popular device for getting online. Mobile Internet usage has been growing at a rapid rate for several years now but the recent take up of 4G services has now brought us to this highly significant tipping point. Mobile is no longer an alternative access point for use when a PC and Laptop aren’t available; it is the primary route to the internet for a majority of the population.

Why is this change occurring?

It is important to realize that this isn’t just about substituting one access point for another and behaving the same way, smartphones have fundamentally changed our relationship with the internet and the mechanics of how it works forever. More than a third of people use their smartphone within five minutes of waking up. Within the 18-24-year-old age range, this number creeps up to more than half. People are spending two hours a day on average on their smartphones, which now represent a crucial digital hub for both work and play.

Unfortunately, most employers are still struggling to keep up when it comes to effectively harnessing mobile in the recruitment process. It is often viewed as difficult, expensive or just an add on in a box ticking exercise. This is an unsustainable position with an overwhelming body of evidence now underlining the vital importance of mobile in the recruitment process.

My advice? Any change in talent acquisition strategy seems to work best when it is planned and done in stages. Instant revolutions are normally not possible. With that in mind, here are some key areas to focus on:

1. Optimise your recruitment marketing content.

The first connection you have with your audience, whether it’s via a proactive message or by someone being exposed to a job post, has a high probability of reaching them via a mobile device. There is a huge amount of competition for attention on someone’s screen and it’s important to make sure that you understand the needs of your audience and are being both empathetic and interesting.

Wherever possible, step away from text. Videos and images are now the currency in the new mobile world. For years, long-form text has been the default method for recruitment marketing, so this is a big change. However, it is a good change, as visual communication is a brilliant way of getting a huge amount of information across in a limited amount of time.

2. Plan to go mobile first with your careers site.

As an industry, we need to step away from the whole idea of a mobile-enabled career site and embrace the mobile-first careers site. Mobile can’t be seen as an afterthought — it needs to drive the whole concept, design and content of the corporate careers site.

It is important to give people what they want quickly. Don’t make them search for the information that is relevant to them as they are likely to go somewhere else instead. If you can engage user attention quickly, the evidence, from the clients that I have worked with, indicates that they will actually engage with more content on the mobile site than they ever would on a desktop.

If you recruit across a number of different disciplines, an alternative approach to consider would be to build several targeted microsites rather than one big site that is a constant compromise between the needs of different audiences.

3. Put mobile apply on your roadmap.

It’s nearly 2016 — you can’t dodge this one anymore. An Indeed survey from last year found 66% of job seekers would apply via their mobile device if they were able to. This is confirmed by recent Forrester Wave research, which reports that candidates expect to be able to search and fully apply for jobs on company careers sites using their mobiles. So what can you do to improve things if you don’t currently support mobile apply?

First, review your ATS provision. Can you really afford to continue to tolerate a legacy system that is not fit for your recruiters and your potential candidates? If you’re stuck in a long-term contract with your ATS vendor, put pressure on your provider and investigate the growing number of services that offer a technical workaround for mobile apply.

While this all might seem daunting, it important to do something to improve your mobile strategy. Unfortunately, going mobile isn’t easy and requires investment, however it’s essential in the long term. Based on my experience working with employers, the benefits are also enormous and companies that have started on their mobile journey already have a huge advantage in the market.

Recruitment's Problem with Persuasion

It was my great pleasure to speak at the excellent RecFest in London the other week. My presentation on “The Art of Persuasion” was inspired by some recent conversations with a number of employers who have found themselves struggling to recruit the talent they need in 2014.

Many employers are currently facing a big uplift in recruitment and some are going into a blind panic throwing money at projects that have been on ice since 2009 (new EVP, new recruitment website etc) to try and fix their problems.

I wanted to look at the root cause of the issues and think about how to actually solve them. This then lead to the realization that the biggest problem we have in 2014 is actually a persuasion problem.

I’ve produced a 20 minute webcast of my presentation which is embedded below where you can see and hear my thoughts on the problem and the potential solutions in more detail.

Here is a top line summary:

The Persuasion problem is being caused by:

  • The lack of any need for proactive recruiting through the recession
  • Technological and demographic changes which mean the old ways of doing things aren’t as successful as they used to be
  • The move from the "Desk Top Age" to the “Age of Mobile Devices”
  • The sheer amount of recruitment noise the best talent is exposed to
  • Generic approaches which result in a huge amount of “inappropriate” applications

The three elements of the DNA of digital persuasion are:

  1. Be Magnetic - Attracting the right audience to your content is vital
  2. Be Convincing - You can’t rely on the right people just wanting to work for you, you need to convince them
  3. Convert - Even the most convincing messages often have no call to action or are attached to a broken process. Getting people into and through your recruitment funnel effectively is absolutely vital.

More details on all of this in the video. I also give an example of great persuasion at work and a simple framework to help you make your recruitment communication work harder.


Recruiting Innovation and Kurt Cobain

A few weeks back I was asked to record a promo video for the forthcoming Rec Fest event. One of the questions I had to answer was what was the best festival I’d ever attended. The answer was an easy one it was Reading 91, I was 19, it was a fantastic line up of music and it was back in the days when you could bring your own cheap beer into festivals.

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly Nirvana playing near the bottom of the bill as a more or less unknown band, just a few short weeks before the release of their game changing NeverMind album. Here’s the video, me and my friend Simon are somewhere in the front row, pretty much opposite Kurt Cobain:


The really interesting thing I noticed when I watched this video back recently was the strangely muted audience reaction to Smells Like Teen Spirit (it's about 10 minutes into the video). Three months later every student union in the land would be blasting it out every five minutes but on this particular day in late August 1991, 99% of us in the audience were hearing it for the first time. The restrained reaction shows that no matter how things were post rationalized afterwards when we were in the moment we were blissfully unaware of the revolutionary nature of what we were listening to.

So why is this relevant to recruitment? While over the last 15 years we’ve been working through a time of monumental change. The Internet was the original game changer in the early 2000s, Social Media has rocked the boat in recent years and now the exponential growth of the mobile internet is pressing the reset button on everything. Employers and Recruitment Agencies are often criticised for being slow to change and certainly, for the last few years at least, they have been playing a constant game of catch up with their target audiences. It’s clear that no one sets out to be behind the curve but sometimes it is very difficult to spot what is front of you particularly when you’re as busy as recruiters are at the moment. As my Nirvana experience shows though, it is important to take a step back sometimes to question the status quo and take in some alternative viewpoints on what is going on. There could be something revolutionary right in front of you which, if you take the time to evaluate it, will give your company a competitive advantage for years to come.

So what about my own performance as a teenage future predicting music guru? Well on extracting our sweaty selves from the densely packed crowd me and friend had a post mortem on what we had just seen. “I think they are going to be the biggest band in the world, what do you think?” said Simon. "I think they were great but I doubt we’ll ever hear of them again” I replied

One of us of course was right and the other one had obviously overindulged in the cheap beer!



Mobile Recruiting, it's time to think differently

Take a look at this chart:

Mobile Growth

I spotted it the other week in an excellent blog post from Mobile business guru Benedict Evans . More than anything else that I’ve seen it underlines that the mobile internet isn’t just another channel it is a real quantum shift to a different way of doing things.

Unfortunately that message doesn’t seem to be getting through when it comes to recruitment and I think that many employers and recruiters are still thinking about mobile in the wrong way. The one thing I hate about our industry is that for many the default position seems to be an insistence that the old ways of doing things are best and any shift in technology needs to be adapted to fit tried and tested methods rather than looking at the potential to evolve the industry itself and makes things work better.

I've been around long enough to know that change is inevitable, I remember presenting to groups of people 15 years ago (ironically when I was selling an early version of an ATS) to be told that no one would ever apply for a job using a computer. With this in mind I find it very frustrating that some very experienced people are closing their minds to the amazing possibilities of “Mobile First” recruitment.

Mobile innovation is currently being held back (like most innovation before it in the last ten years) by the fear that it doesn't fit with the ATS and mobile recruiting providers are forced to jump through hoops to provide mobile apply solutions that have to replicate the traditional way of doing things rather than using mobile as a catalyst to improve them.

Despite perceptions to the contrary, the technical barriers to mobile apply can be overcome and with some effort it is possible to present most recruitment processes in a format that works functionally on a mobile. However something being functional doesn’t make it user friendly and quality candidates are even less likely to tolerate a long winded recruitment process on a mobile than they currently do on a desktop, however technically clever it is.

What is clear from the mobile revolution happening all around us is that mobile has a genuine power to improve what has gone before. Mobile first companies like Uber, Tinder and Instagram are causing huge disruption in their markets and many existing industries are rushing to embrace mobile, creating such useful things as mobile banking, mobile payments and mobile airline check ins to name but a few.

So why aren’t we looking at things differently in the recruitment space? Integrating video screening and touch screen psychometric testing to create a “mobile first apply” is just one of thousands of possibilities that mobile technology give us and that’s before we consider the future recruitment selection possibilities of permission based access to some of the personal data footprint created and stored within our devices. Hanging onto ATS systems that refuse to adapt and closing your mind to anything that doesn’t look like recruitment from 50 years ago isn’t going to solve your resourcing problems in 2014. Isn’t it time to think differently and embrace the promise and possibilities of our mobile first world?

Recruiting Innovation 2012 - Employer Branding and Mobile

So I actually got some nice feedback from my first attempt at video blogging on this trip. Suitably encouraged I've decided to post another video update. Since I published the last video I've had great meetings with Master Burnett, William Uranga, Brad Cook and John Sumser and have captured some great video interview footage that will be posted in April.

All four conversations were quite different but there was certainly consensus on the current meaning of employer branding and the use of the mobile. Watch the video below to find out more......

Free Guide to Mobile Recruiting

A few weeks back I posted about mobile being my new top priority. I'm therefore delighted to announce that MetaShift has collaborated with mobile recruiting legend Dave Martin (aka @mobile_dave) to produce a free white paper on the topic. You can download our free Guide to Mobile Recruiting now by following this link

The aim of the guide is to be as user friendly and practical as possible while hopefully informing the debate round what I feel will be one of the key topics for 2012.

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.