Using mobile technology to recruit

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Recruiters have been slow to adopt mobile recruitment and are in danger of losing candidates. With one in four of us accessing the web from a mobile, and this trend increasing as you move down the age range, it has stark implications for all organisations on the recruitment trail. The more mobile optimised your recruitment process is the better placed you will be to access the best breadth of talent. Yet many companies make some fundamental errors when trying to make their recruitment process mobile friendly. 

Many make the mistake of simply thinking that if they have any e-recruitment system it will work for mobile. But simply going from paper to online doesn’t cut it. That’s not just because sites are tricky to view on a small screen - it’s more that when people access the web from a mobile they are much more ‘action orientated’. It isn’t the passive browsing experience that it is when people are on a laptop or PC.

A recruitment process that includes mobile and traditional interaction should be designed with the technology preferences of the candidate in mind. It should take advantage of all technologies without disadvantaging candidates who want or need to use mobiles.

Some companies refuse to make the process easier for candidates using a mobile, thinking that it’ll act as a filter, particularly true in companies inundated by applications. In doing this they can create a skill shortage, especially among the young. The next generation of talent are mobile users.

Preventing device discrimination – best practice

To prevent device discrimination and help companies incorporate mobile technology, supporting users can be done through a browser interface, by making Applicant Tracking System (ATS) features work efficiently on mobile and desktop devices so companies can track job openings, CVs, candidates and contacts more quickly and efficiently. For companies who want a more focused approach or don’t want to include minor ATS features into a marketing application for example, a mobile App-based solution maybe the most appropriate.

If mobile is to be supported it should try and cover as many different devices as practical. Create simple registration forms for basic information and contact details, early in the process. Take advantage of the fact that Smartphone users carry them 24:7 and allow candidates to participate in Q&A via the mobile. Also let candidates ‘update’ and ‘confirm’ through the mobile device when firming up interview arrangements or provisionally accepting an offer. This will inject speed, convenience and immediacy into the process – a real advantage over the traditional recruitment process and important if you’re keen to keep the best talent interested in your business. 

Be aware that supporting device specific implementations (Apps) is problematic. The beauty of the internet and cloud computing is that people can access it whenever and wherever. Apps are device specific and work against this trend, alienating people who can’t use them. In essence, mobile-enabled web is sensible, but device specific Apps may not be. 

Security issues

There are many solutions out there to enforce security policies like file encryption and stronger passwords, but the user is always the weak link in the security chain. Mobile is about convenience, and unfortunately, security introduces some degree of inconvenience. It’s long been known that if we make security too inconvenient, users will resort to the most insecure solutions to avoid it.

To reduce some security threats, the following should be taken into account by companies as well as the end-user:

  • Physical security - mobile devices are more at risk from theft and loss. Encourage the end user to use the remote wipe facility if a mobile device is lost, especially if they are uploading confidential information. This way they can remotely wipe any android device by resetting the device back to its factory default settings and clearing any data stored. 
  • Data loss - If a mobile is used to store data then consider how that data is to be backed up. Where practical, companies should insist that mobile storage is encrypted. For a recruitment application, it is best to avoid keeping master records on the mobile device.
  • Network security - mobile devices are more likely to be connected to untrusted networks. Users should have appropriate security awareness training, particularly around the risks associated with connecting to WiFi networks. 
  • Malware - mobile devices offers greater opportunity for a Malware infection. Mobile users tend to be less aware of the risks and forget to follow best practice that may even be second nature to them when using a desktop. 
  • Apps downloaded from an application store - these cannot be assumed to be 'safe'. Just as ‘mobile’ is a growth opportunity for legitimate software developers, it is also a growth opportunity for the hackers. Apps are often not designed with security as a priority; this opens opportunities for cyber criminals to use Apps to install a backdoor on such devices to use it for a range of purposes, such as sending spam or recording keystrokes to steal bank details.

Social media

When it comes to mobile, a key area where mistakes are made is on social channels. This is usually because organisations don’t understand how the channels work. For instance you’ll see recruitment agencies posting jobs on Twitter, not realising the shelf life of a tweet is incredibly short, and in essence it is a form of spamming. What most companies fail to realise is that social media is for communications, for striking up conversation, rather than just posting a random tweet. LinkedIn is effective for active talent search (head hunting) and industry-related social networks and has become a reliable source for objective references.

Facebook is the most widely distributed and connected social network. The personal data that is available for targeting adverts means that job adverts can be shown to the most applicable population but not to populations that may otherwise generate poor quality applications. The Facebook ‘Like’ function helps spread information across interest-related parties. With the launch of the Facebook job board it will able organisations to post jobs to their company Facebook page and share job postings across the social platforms for maximum visibility among top potential candidates. 

There is a trend among some companies to create private networks, however most employers would be best advised to take advantage of established networks rather than create their own, as you need a strong brand proposition to make people want regularly to interact and engage with you.

Mobile is an expanding part of our everyday lives. It has the potential massively to improve the way companies attract and handle applicants. The smart employers are those prepared to embrace the possibilities. 

Top tips

The top five things companies should think about when using mobile technology:

  1. User coverage: can you focus on a limited set of devices or do you need to reach the maximum size of audience without discrimination? Mobile browser will get the maximum coverage and is extremely cost-effective.
  2. Device features: do you need access to device specific features and sensors? If not, then a browser-based approach may be most appropriate.
  3. Marketing: is a presence on a platforms application store going to be important for marketing? If so, some type of App presence is required.
  4. Security: the mobile platform introduces increased risk - is this appropriate or are there extra controls that can be put in place? 
  5. Design for the mobile mind-set: people think and act differently when using a mobile than when using a desktop device. Include this in the design consideration. Take advantage of quick, frequent use, but allow for small screens, navigation, and awkward input.


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