A User’s Guide To The Smartphone Hiring Revolution

Nearly one-third of Google searches for “jobs” come from mobile devices, making the smartphone the engine of choice for job seekers and recruiters alike.

A User’s Guide To The Smartphone Hiring Revolution
[Image: Flickr user Shehal Joseph]

Our mobile phones are pocket-sized repositories for a lot of big personal data. From music to fitness apps, games, photos, and a trove of texts and contact information, they literally contain the stuff of our lives. And increasingly, our work. So why shouldn’t they be used as a tool for tapping into a new job?


Turns out, they are. According to ComScore, 10.9 million workers searched for jobs using mobile devices in August 2013 up from just 3.8 million in August 2012. Nearly one-third (31%) of Google searches for “jobs” now come from mobile devices, making them the engine of choice for job seekers and recruiters, alike.

Consider Steven Nicolini. The 27-year old used to spend time at the library, scouring the web for employment. “Once I figured out I could look on my phone it was much easier,” he says. Indeed, it took Nicolini less than a week to apply, interview, and begin work as an apprentice carpenter with Madden Industrial Craftsmen. The Oregon-based company uses Jobaline’s mobile hiring platform to accept and screen its applicants.

Like Nicolini, Howard Lilienfeld is a recently hired machinist with Madden Industrial Craftsmen. He applied on his phone using text messaging, after Googling and finding the company’s posted jobs.

At 33, Lilienfeld may technically be on the far side of digitally native Millennials. He admits, “I was a little thrown off [about texting my application] because I’d never heard that.” He says the process felt more interactive than a traditional online application process. “It actually felt like I was talking to somebody,” he adds.

The Jobaline platform has an automated system that calls selected applicants and records their answers to interview questions for a hiring manager to listen to later. Nicolini says this feature worked in his favor. “Before the automated system called me, I had the questions written down so I would know what to say,” he explains. “For one question, I deleted my first response and re-recorded it because I thought I said “um” too much.”

When Fat Finger Syndrome Could Cost You a Job

Jobaline’s CEO Luis Salazar cautions job seekers to avoid taking the mobile hiring process too casually, especially when the phone is primarily used for personal communications. “When completing a written application on your phone, it’s important to still be very conscious of what you’re typing. Read and reread all of your answers to avoid typos,” he says.


If the application includes an automated phone interview system, Salazar says it’s important to remember that recruiters care both about what you say and how you say it. “Keep your responses between 15 and 30 seconds long,” he suggests, “Also consider you voice inflection to show enthusiasm and set yourself apart.” A soft voice devoid of energy conveys disinterest. “Jobaline’s technology will actually rank people based off of what they say along with their tone, inflection, how quickly and correctly they follow instructions,” he adds.

The Text That Could Save Billions of Dollars

This nascent trend in mobile recruiting isn’t just a tech short cut. Salazar says it may prove to be a more cost effective way for companies to find better candidates and have a macro economic impact for the entire country by combatting hiring inefficiencies.

With 100 million hires per year among hourly wage earners alone, Salazar estimates that more than a billion candidates need to be screened for those jobs. He says most of the elements of this process are manual, costing companies billions of dollars per year.

“When you think that in most cases these workers are hired not by a centralized HR department, but by hiring managers at the front of a store, hotel, restaurant, then any minute wasted dealing with a sea of candidates that are not a good match to begin with, causes losses to those companies,” he says.

Optimizing for mobile hiring certainly helps. According to recent findings by recruitment outsourcing firm Seven Step RPO, nearly one-third (30%) of all candidates won’t spend more than 15 minutes filling out an online application. The ones that do stick it out, still need to be scrutinized with care.

Paul Harty, president of Seven Step RPO suggests looking at the candidate’s current employer first. “If they are working at a competitor or a desirable company known to produce good people, prioritize them for further review,” he says.


It’s always good policy to check education or technical and business related certifications as it can show commitment to an industry or profession, he says. Finally, consider a very short list of must have skills. “If you must have management, look for that in titles, and if you use a certain technical skill, scan for it.”

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.