MOBILE: How the smartphone is changing recruitment

It was raining so I decided to take my son to watch a movie.

So we did a search online for our local cinemas, viewed the listings, checked the reviews and BBFC rating (for child friendly suitability), booked the tickets and checked Google Maps for the best place to park to avoid getting too wet.

Hang on, did I mention I hadn’t yet sat up in bed?

Nary a desktop or laptop in site, I did it all on my phone (I also later used my phone to check-in on Foursquare just to maximise the pain and embarrassment of watching Mr Popper’s Penguins).

My point: the smartphone has seriously changed my behaviour (and yes both my online and offline behaviour – I do many things differently in the ‘real’ world now due to my mobile access).

You’re obsessed with your phone, so what?

That’s great, so we’re all doing a lot more on our phones, but their use is still small fry compared to PCs, right?

Not so fast. The tide is turning, rapidly.

Ponder these 3 stats:

  • Over 2bn mobile phones have been sold globally to date. It took 14 years to sell the first 1bn and just 12 months  to sell the 2nd billion (Google Think Mobile, 2010)
  • Smartphone manufacturers shipped 100.9 million devices in Q4 2010, while PC manufacturers shipped 92.1m units worldwide. It’s the first quarter in which smartphones outsold PCs
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, PC manufacturers are struggling. Hewlett Packard, the worldwide market leader is apparently considering offloading its PC business. The only other leader thriving is Apple, due to their shift into the smartphone and tablet market. iPad pulled in $9bn in the first half of 2011 – 30% more than all of Dell’s consumer PC business.

So how much have they become part of our lives? When asked what they would prefer to give up for a week, 70% of smartphone owners admitted that they would rather give up alcohol rather than their phone. 1/3 said they were prepared to give up sex instead of their smartphone.

So what’s that got to do with recruitment?

Okay, we’ve established that mobile is big business and its changing people’s behaviour. So what happens when jobseekers start using it to job hunt?

Well, they actually already are.

In the 2.5 years we’ve been tracking mobile data at Jobsite we’ve seen traffic from mobile devices increase by over 1500% (think of a really dramatic looking hockey stick).

In Jan. 2009, mobile contributed less than 1% of total site traffic. Today it accounts for 10%, having doubled in just the past 12 months. That’s some serious traffic.

Those are impressive top line stats, but it gets really interesting when you dive deeper into the data to reveal behaviour changes.

A typical day for a UK job board sees a quiet start to the day before a surge in traffic throughout the morning with a peak between 11am and lunchtime (so I guess it takes people roughly two hours to realise just how much they hate their jobs). The afternoon is busy but drops off as the day goes on before an early evening plateau precedes low levels of night time traffic.

If you overlay that activity with the mobile traffic you see a very different pattern to the day. The typical commuting times of the day are very busy, particularly the morning commute to work – by far the most popular time of the day to job hunt via mobile. This supports the stat from Google that 65% of people use mobile to kill time on a commute. Except these people aren’t playing Angry Birds, they’re searching, shortlisting – and yes – applying for jobs on their phone.

Interestingly, the two other noticeable activity periods are:

  1. Throughout the working day – so those of you with restrictive web access policies…good luck with that
  2. Late evening – the early evening activity has extended into the later slot traditionally reserved for TV and bed

Begs the question, is Mobile enabling existing customers to extend their activity over a longer time period via multiple platforms or is Mobile attracting a whole new audience? (or most likely, a bit of both)

This isn’t just traffic either. These people are applying for jobs. 9% of all visits result in an application. Mobile applications now account for 5% of all Jobsite applications (and that’s a lot).

Why do jobseekers like mobile?

A mobile roundtable we conducted with representatives from companies such as Google, Microsoft and the IAB in May 2010, revealed 4 key reasons why jobseekers love mobile.

  1. Accessibility – you’re no longer chained to a desk to job hunt
  2. Convenience – you can use your phone whenever, wherever you are (subject to a signal!)
  3. Privacy – no-one snooping over your shoulder at your PC monitor
  4. Freedom – you can avoid corporate firewalls and access restrictions

Four very compelling reasons – all backed up by the Jobsite mobile traffic statistics – and key drivers for mobile job hunting growth.

Are recruiters using mobile?

Some, but not enough of them. Forward thinking businesses, and especially tech companies, are already there – using both mobile sites and apps. In the job board market in the UK, there are quite a number of iPhone apps in the app store and some have mobile friendly sites too, but it’s a slow migration.

Having spoken with people in the business of building mobile recruiting solutions, I get the impression that for many companies, it’s less of a case of ‘must have’ and more of a ‘hmmm, I think it might be too early for us’.

But is it really?

What does the data say?

Check your analytics reports for traffic from mobile devices. You might just be surprised. Is it more than you thought it would be? Check the bounce rate too. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, then chances are it will be high and your visitors quickly leave frustrated.

What do your customers say?

Have you spoken to your customers about mobile? You may find they are using it on a regular basis for other activities and would receive an enhanced experience from your company if they could incorporate your service into their mobile lives.

How you answer those two questions could determine a whole new direction for your business.

One final thought for you. If jobseekers are already showing an appreciation for mobile jobhunting in 2011, how will the recruitment landscape look when mobile usage overtakes desktop in 2014, as predicted by Google? And what role is your business going to take in that new world?

Are you ready for it?

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