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Posted October 14, 2019 by

How mobile-friendly is your application process?

By Robin Porter

Tom, a 38-year-old long haul truck driver, spends most of his time on the road—often going weeks at a time without seeing his wife and two young children. He’s worked hard to earn his degree online, so he can find a job that lets him be at home with his family.

Now Tom’s in job-search mode. Given the nomadic nature of a trucking job, he has to submit applications when and where he can. That’s why he’s thankful for smartphones—even if it’s sometimes a pain to fill out applications on a small screen (so many questions, and why does he have to re-enter his job history when he’s already uploaded his resume?). However, with limited access to secure computers, it’s all he’s got.

A couple of job applications have been user-friendly. More often, though, the frustration of trying to get through the tedious and detailed online application process on a phone, combined with his tight schedule, forces Tom to abandon his applications to get back on the road. It’s not his choice, but he has schedules to meet. Sometimes, he wonders if he’ll ever be able to settle into a job that will allow him to watch his kids grow up…

Someone who’s as industrious and goal-oriented as Tom, our fictional truck driver, would be an asset to any company. If he applied to your company, would he be interviewing with you right now, or would he be lost in the system because he applied on a mobile device?

Before you wave away the idea that the devices applicants use make a difference in his or her employment prospects, consider that, according to the Pew Research Center, 81% of adults in the U.S. now own smartphones, with the breakdown in ownership by age as follows:

  • Age 18-29: 96%
  • Age 30-49: 92%
  • Age 50-64: 79%

And consider another recent study by Glassdoor, the employer and salary review site, which found that 58% of their users look for jobs on smartphones—and in fact prefer to apply that way.

That’s a lot of job seekers you could be missing out on, if your online application process isn’t mobile-friendly.

Who Applies via Mobile?

Most mobile applicants tend to be in the mid-phase of their careers, with 55% in the 35-44 age range. The largest group—52%—are women, and in general, mobile applicants tend come from industries and occupations where their work doesn’t keep them within range of a computer. Think restaurant, health care, retail, construction, manufacturing or transportation workers like our friend Tom.

Even if you don’t specifically hire in those industries, how many good candidates who have decided to transition to your industry might you be overlooking—without even realizing it?

The Effects of Mobile-Friendly Application

Glassdoor’s study found that mobile job seekers complete 53% fewer applications and take 80% longer to complete each application. The difficulty of completing applications—a CareerBuilder study found that 60% of jobseekers quit in the middle of an online application due to length, complexity or even formatting issues—is not only discouraging for the applicants, it could eventually become a negative for your company as jobseekers abandon your site for more user-friendly postings.

Now, if we’re being honest, in an employer’s market it might not be a significant issue. However, when the market favors job seekers and you have to compete for talent, your applicant pool could shrink considerably—especially as the capabilities of mobile devices continue to expand.

And if you think that a challenging online application process separates the serious applicant from the less-serious ones, think again. The top-notch candidates you’re searching for know what their time is worth, and their patience for an unnecessarily complicated process is as low as anyone else’s.

The Costs of Mobile-Unfriendly Application

Appcast, a developer of programmatic job advertising technology, did a benchmark study that examined the U.S. hiring market in 2018. Among their findings was a 24.5% increase in mobile device clicks from 2017 to 2018. Nearly half of all applies, 47.10%, came from a mobile device in 2018, up drastically from 30.05% in 2017—a 54.93% increase in mobile applications.

The Appcast study further found that recruiters who use more streamlined platforms that shorten the length of the application process cut their cost per applicant almost 250% by reducing the time to complete an application from 15 minutes to just five. Consider that in the cost-per-click pricing model, recruiters pay per click—whatever the candidate does beyond that initial click. When unwieldly application forms translate into abandoned applications, you’re still paying for those clicks even if they don’t result in a job candidate.

As Tom, our trucker friend, and other job seekers rely more and more on mobile devices to search and apply for jobs, it’s vital for employers to adapt their online application processes to reflect the latest technology and application practices. Glassdoor’s study showed that when a job was promoted as mobile-friendly, the number of job applicants increased as much as 11.6%. How many more promising applicants would you have to choose missing out on if you made your online application process mobile-friendly?

Today might be the best day to make that calculation. And the first day of a new era in your recruitment process.

Sources:

Being away from home for weeks on end can put truckers’ mental health at risk, and there’s no solution in sight,” by Rachel Premack, businessinsider.com, June 18, 2018.

Mobile Fact Sheet,” by Pew Research Center, pewinternet.org, June 12, 2019.

The Rise of Mobile Devices in Job Search: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers,” by Daniel Zhao, glassdoor.com, June 2, 2019.

Study: Most Job Seekers Abandon Online Job Applications,” by Dave Zielinski, shrm.org, March 8, 2016.

Is Poor UX Hurting Your Chances of Finding Good Employees?” by Samuel Harper, uxdesign.cc, July 14, 2019.

2019 Recruitment Media Benchmark Report,” by Appcast, info.appcase.io, 2019. (Note: link opens to a download form)

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