Mobile phone technology has evolved at an incredible speed over the past 10 years and recruitment is just one sector that has taken advantage of the flexibility and convenience mobile devices have to offer.
In our 2019 survey, which investigated the relationship between mobile technology and job hunting today, we discovered that 74.7% now use their phone to look for a job, compared to just 32.4% when we ran the same survey in 2014.
A 42.3% increase in just five years demonstrates just how embedded mobile devices have become in the recruitment process for candidates.
Yet, as we step into 2020, there are warning signs that it is time to step back and reassess whether the systems and technologies we use as a sector are fit for purpose going into a brand new decade.
The early warning signs
The warning sign is that while our survey showed exponential growth in the use of phones to look for a job. It also uncovered a small but significant discrepancy. Just 59.4% of survey respondents stated that ‘yes’ they would consider applying for a job directly via their mobile phone.
This 15.3% gap may not seem like a large number, yet it highlights a key area that many recruiters are failing to consider when trying to attract candidates: if the majority of candidates use their phone to look for jobs, then the mobile version of your recruitment platform had better offer a good user experience.
This clearly isn’t the case, as industry data suggests only 33% of job applications take place via a mobile phone. Where a client directs an applicant that is on a mobile device through to an application form or pre-screening page, there is typically a 60-80% drop-off.
So a desire to apply via mobile is one thing, but in practice, the picture is very different.
Common Complaints of Mobile Job Hunting
When asked what are the biggest limitations of job hunting on a mobile phone, the most popular complaint from our survey participants (29.8%) was, ‘The websites I use aren’t optimised for mobile devices’.
But what does this mean?
Poor mobile optimisation can cover many things that users find inconvenient, frustrating or confusing when looking at a website on their phone. For example:
- The navigation tool is hidden or too small
- Images do not adjust to the size of the phone – they may be too large or too small
- The page takes a long time to load, especially when not connected to Wi-Fi
- The text size appears too large or too small
- Links do not work
- Contact information – phone numbers or email addresses – are not hyperlinked so are not functional when clicked
- Forms are difficult to complete
If your website suffers from any of these issues when used on a phone, then your website is not mobile-optimised.
The other complaints our respondents had were:
- Not being able to upload my CV – 25%
- The size of the text – 8%
- Not being able to apply directly – 3%
- Not having Wi-Fi – 1%
The Consequences of Inadequate Technology
A poorly-optimised website can lead to serious consequences. If a candidate grows frustrated with an online job application, they will simply stop and abandon the process altogether. While some may pick up the application at a later date on a desktop computer, recruiters must be aware that many will not.
This means that not only may it take longer to fill a job vacancy, but companies stand to miss out on securing the very best talent available. Additionally, an unwieldy website can give a poor first impression, which may also drive candidates away and into the arms of your competitors.
Gen Z talent
The age demographic at most risk of being turned off by non-mobile-friendly recruitment platforms is Gen Z. These 18-24 year olds are the most tech-savvy, with a huge 92.5% of those we surveyed stating that they look for jobs on their phones. The proportion of Gen Z who would actually apply for a job on their phone is 72.5%. While both of these statistics are higher than the national average, the discrepancy between these two figures is also much higher: 20%.
This is a dramatic shift in how younger candidates use technology as part of their job hunting. When the same survey was run five years ago, just 38% of 18-24 year olds used their phones to search for a job.
Losing a fifth of candidates is a considerable amount. Demonstrating that businesses must immediately assess their mobile offering if they are to meet the demands of the next generation of up-and-coming talent.
How to improve
If mobile is to become a more attractive and seamless platform for those who want to apply for jobs, as opposed to just searching for jobs, then there are several steps a recruitment platform or business that handles recruitment can take.
The first step is to conduct a thorough review. Go through the application process yourself as though you were a candidate, and note down any issues you spot. These issues could be how long the page takes to load or appear on your screen. A lag time of three seconds or more could be enough to turn away a candidate.
Other things include
- The size of the text
- The ability to upload a CV and cover letter
- The ability to save an online application process.
The second step is to implement changes to address the issues you have found. These could include:
- Make information easier to find
- Hyperlink contact information
- Make sure button sizes are large
- Ensure image file sizes are compressed
- Don’t use Flash.
You may need to speak to your web manager or external website developer to discover how these actions can be introduced. Alternatively, if you are a company that conducts its recruiting in-house, you may wish to seek out an external recruitment agency that already has a mobile-friendly platform.
Considering the advances of the last 10 years, it’s clear that the next 10 years will also see massive jumps in the development of mobile technology. Meaning the desire of candidates to use them for a larger proportion of the job-hunting process will increase. Recruitment agencies and recruiting companies alike must keep pace with these developments.
We are now at a critical time in the sector. The past few years have seen disruption to the industry due to uncertainty over Brexit, which means candidates and recruiters alike have to be ever more savvy, discerning and smart if they are to stand out.
Now is the time for some serious creative thought about how we can overcome the constraints of current mobile technology. While providing an experience that growing numbers of candidates are starting to expect as standard.
About Jo Sellick
Jo Sellick is the Managing Director of professional services recruitment specialist Sellick Partnership. Since forming in 2002, Sellick Partnership has gone from strength to strength as one of the most respected specialist recruitment agencies in the UK. In 2017 the business celebrated 15 years since Jo set up the firm with just a laptop and mobile phone. Now the business employs over 100 staff, has seven offices nationwide and has an annual turnover of over £48 million. Sellick Partnership works across a range of disciplines including Finance & Accountancy, Legal, HR, Housing & Property Services, Actuarial, Procurement, Wealth & Investment Management and Change & Transformation.
Smart Recruit Online offers a low cost multi-award winning online recruitment service with a 98% independent customer satisfaction rating and the highest direct-hire fill rate in the UK.
To book a demo with us and learn more about how our technology can transform your recruiting process, click here.