You’ve probably heard it at talent acquisition conferences, in industry articles, and maybe even from your boss: Mobile recruiting is on the rise, and it’s time to adapt. But new Glassdoor research has shown that mobile use in the job search isn’t just around the corner—it is decidedly here now, and companies that aren’t focusing on making the best possible mobile experience for interested job seekers are missing out on a significant portion of the talent pool.
In “The Rise of Mobile Devices in Job Search: Challenges and Opportunities for Employers,” Glassdoor senior economist and data scientist Daniel Zhao explores the pervasiveness of mobile use in the job search, what kinds of candidates are embracing mobile and how employers can capitalize on this trend—here are some of the top-line results from the study.
How big is mobile?
If you’re particularly forward thinking, you may have already suspected that mobile use in the job search was on the rise. After all, since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, smartphone ownership has exploded to 77% of U.S. adults, according to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center. Given the ubiquity of smartphones, many people are abandoning desktops altogether in order to embrace the more portable and economical option. And since smartphones are used for everything from texting friends to ordering pizza to replying to work emails, it makes sense that they would figure prominently in the job search.
But how prevalent is the use of smartphones in the job hunt? Glassdoor’s study found that the majority of Glassdoor users—58%—are looking for their jobs on their phones. And according to a survey by Glassdoor, 35% of job seekers would actually prefer to apply for jobs from their phones.
Who is the mobile job seeker?
Although there are a few particular groups that rely on mobile devices for their job search more heavily than others—blue-collar workers, for example—Zhao is quick to point out that a significant degree of smartphone use is present across nearly every demographic, industry, and job title.
While one might think that the generations that seem to be the most glued to their smartphones, Gen Z and millennials, would be the ones to leverage mobile use most heavily in their job search, Glassdoor research found that job search mobile usage actually peaks among Gen Xers, with 55% of users in the 35-44-year-old age group making use of mobile devices in their job search. So don’t think it’s just interns and entry-level candidates who are applying to jobs on their phones—the bulk of job applications are likely coming from those well established in their careers.
Interestingly, the study found that employers looking to prioritize diversity at their organizations have even more of a reason to focus on the mobile job search— women make up 52% of mobile job seekers compared to only 46% of desktop job seekers.
Hurdles in the mobile job search
Despite its prevalence, the mobile job search is not without its challenges. Zhao’s research uncovered that mobile applications are typically more difficult for users to complete, acting as an unintentional “mobile tax.” As the figure below demonstrates, mobile job seekers successfully complete 53% fewer applications and take 80% longer to complete each application, underscoring the current challenges of applying to jobs on mobile devices.
Unsurprisingly, these hurdles cause users to drop off in the job search. But those who prioritize a mobile job search experience for their applicants tend to reap the rewards—a 10% reduction in the time needed to complete a job application was associated with a 2.3% increase in job applications from mobile job seekers and a 1.5% increase in applications from desktop job seekers. Furthermore, actively promoting a job as mobile-friendly can increase the number of job applicants by as much as 11.6%, which, in a labor market as tight as the one we currently find ourselves in, can make all the difference in giving your company a competitive recruiting advantage.
Takeaways for employers
Zhao predicts that mobile job search usage will only increase in the years to come, so employers who are not creating a user-friendly experience risk alienating a significant portion of the labor pool. Zhao recommended that employers hoping to capture the interest of mobile job seekers take the following approaches:
Understand your audience: Think about the demographics that your company is targeting in your talent acquisition efforts. If you are making it a priority to hire non-traditional or underrepresented audiences, such as women and those from lower socioeconomic classes, mobile should be top of mind.
Keep it short: As demonstrated in the previous section, longer job applications act as a significant deterrent to mobile job seekers. Making your application as quick and easy as you possibly can, without sacrificing quality, will yield the best results.
Test it yourself: Just because you’ve taken steps to optimize your job application process for mobile users doesn’t mean that it’s automatically a seamless experience. The only way to identify glitches and pain points is to test it out yourself.