The world has gone mobile. That’s old news. You’ve doubtlessly read several articles championing the importance of mobile-optimizing online job search. Still, only 23 percent of employers consider mobile-optimizing their recruitment venues a priority, according to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 employers. This even holds true for some of the most innovative and successful companies. Of the Fortune 500, only 99 host a career site with a mobile-friendly job-search process, and only 14 of those actually allow users to apply for jobs.
Despite many employers’ lack of prioritization in mobilizing their application process, job seekers are already on board. According to ComScore, 10.9 million workers searched for jobs using mobile devices in August 2013. That number is up from 3.8 million in August 2012. On top of that, 31 percent of Google searches for “jobs” now come from mobile devices.
The quantity of job seekers is there, so why aren’t the employers?
The most common reason we hear is a question of the quality of candidates. There’s a common misconception that the job seekers using smartphones are less serious about their search or underqualified for most positions.
However, these reservations may be a bit misplaced. The CareerBuilder survey found that a considerable percentage of employees currently working in high-skill fields (including many who are applying for leadership positions) rely on their mobile devices for job searching. Most notably, 45 percent of job seekers currently employed in a healthcare occupation say they search for jobs via mobile — 18 percentage points more than the average for all employed job seekers. Additionally, Google data shows that nurses, allied health, and dental positions are all among the top positions searched for via mobile devices.
The data shows that it is not only lower-income job seekers making use of mobile technology in their hunt. While workers making less than $50,000 are the most likely to search for jobs on a mobile device, 18 percent of job seekers making between $50,000 and $75,000 are likely to job hunt via mobile, too. And of those making more than $75,000 annually? Twenty-one percent search for new jobs on a mobile device. Those are hardly low-quality candidates.
Not only is mobile being used across salary ranges, but it spans the spectrum of employment levels as well. A separate CareerBuilder study found that 41 percent of unemployed job seekers regularly search job boards via smartphones. So do 38 percent of candidates (both employed and unemployed) applying for executive-level positions. Sixty-five percent of applicants to executive positions use tablets.
Career pages that are not optimized for mobile devices makes it considerably more difficult for job seekers. In many cases, they can find themselves trying to complete online applications that are 10 or even 20 pages long, with difficult text input methods and small text. These frustrations not only lead to a much lower application completion rate, but also count against the company in the mind of the job seeker. CareerBuilder survey research shows that 65 percent of workers who search for jobs via mobile devices will leave a website if it is not mobile-optimized; 40 percent walk away with a more negative opinion of the company. Since CareerBuilder enhanced the mobile apply process for all of its U.S. clients (all U.S. clients who use CareerBuilder’s apply process and do not host their own), mobile applications increased by 50 percent.
Bottom line, mobile is becoming the primary means for people to access the Internet for personal and professional use, and a “mobile-unfriendly” environment can lead to missed opportunities. A Pew study found that 34 percent of cell Internet users mostly go online using their cell phones.
The sooner employers realize that high-quality candidates are part of the mobile recruitment audience, the sooner they can capitalize on this trend. The high-caliber job seekers are there, and it’s time employers catch up.