Mobile Can Be As Simple as a Phone Number and a Keypad. #mobilerecruit

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We talk in circles in the HR and Recruiting space. We know that more and more people are accessing the internet via their smartphones, we have conversations about optimizing our career sites for mobile, yet we still insist that applicants click through 12 screens, complete hundreds of data fields, and attach their resumes (which we will look at for 6 seconds) before they can even successfully hit the “apply/submit” button.  We talk around and around and around and never get to the point; despite all our chatter about mobile recruiting, according the Corporate Mobile Readiness Report, only 5% of the Fortune 500 have a mobile optimized job application process.

Lesson: Not every company is doing mobile recruiting.

Here in the US of A, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 91% of adults have cell phone; 56% of those folks have a smartphone.  I may be in HR but I can still do math; that means that 44% of cell phone owners are not using a smartphone.

I recently had a chat with a fellow business traveler as we hunkered down in the TSA line.  While I was perusing my iPhone and swiping-to-delete emails (like a boss!) he hauled out his old-skool flip phone and made a quick call.  When he hung up he said to me, with a bit of pride, “I used to have an iPhone and got rid of it.” Sporting a snazzy pair of Gucci loafers and carting around a MacBook Pro he was neither a luddite nor an aging baby boomer but was firmly rooted in Gen X.  “I use my phone for calls and text messaging” he told me. “This phone is all I need” he said as he snapped the lid closed with a satisfying click.

Lesson: Not every user has gone fully mobile.

At a recent coffee meeting with an acquaintance looking for a manufacturing job I offered to share some job postings with him as we enjoyed our lattes. “You can open the email right here, click over to the postings and I’ll give you some insight” I said. “I don’t like viewing that stuff on my phone,” he replied. “Do you mind if we just talk and I’ll take a look at home when I’m ready to apply?”

Lesson: Not every job seeker is taking their job search mobile.

I’m not saying we in HR should dismiss mobile.  Rather we need to take the conversation to a place beyond recruiting.  I propose that we take the conversation back in time and discuss the simplicity – the sheer and utter simplicity – of SMS/texting.

Not too long ago an HR lady I sat next to at a luncheon lamented that one of her HR staff members resigned via text message. “This generation” she sighed as she clucked her tongue and shook her head.

Was this the wisest way for this young HR Rep to give notice?  Of course not; she burned some professional bridges in a rather small market and merely reinforced some generational stereotypes for her much older manager.

To me, however, this illustrated what’s happening in the marketplace; a shift back to SMS/text as a primary vehicle for communication in the workplace.

We see this when employees send text messages to their manager to verify scheduled shifts or managers ask their employees to send a text message (rather than call or email) if they’re sick and will be absent.  Co-workers find that sending each other text messages during the day if often the fastest way to get an answer or provide an update. Even customers want texting access to solve issues and improve two-way communication; I worked with an organization where in-house customer service staff (who were on their land-line 85% of the day) freely gave their personal cell phone numbers to external customers in order to ensure they could be reached with urgent questions or requests.

What if, instead of talking about the pie-in-the-sky mobile recruiting sites we never seem to develop we talk about refining strategies around text messaging?

Not a new app.  Not a new platform. No need for more logins, usernames and passwords.

A phone number and a keypad.

Time to circle back.  

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