Finally, Job Boards Are Going Mobile… or Are They?

Last week, LinkedIn became the latest (and biggest) job board to jump into the mobile apply game with the introduction of a new feature allowing job seekers to apply for positions directly from their mobile devices. LinkedIn’s announcement was the latest in a seemingly daily deluge of new solutions, entrants and opinions on the mobile recruiting trend.

It has truly become a near-Herculean task to try and keep up with all the noise surrounding mobile recruiting, and even more difficult to find clarity about what the myriad of solutions actually do and don’t do. To be sure, there is a lot of confusion around the term “mobile optimized” across the recruiting landscape right now. 

Does “mobile optimized” simply mean that job boards and career sites have tweaked their SEO for mobile? Does it mean they’ve implemented some form of adaptive design so their content can be easily consumed by the mobile user? Does it mean that they’ve launched an App to allow for job searching from mobile devices? It likely means all these things, but should it mean more?

These steps are all indicators that our industry ‘gets it’, that we understand that mobile is the way of the future. But to me, the steps that have been taken are only the first in a long path toward true mobile optimization. The real ‘holy grail’, the optimal mobile experience, goes far beyond adaptive design, mobile SEO and mobile search. When a job seeker can search for positions, upload their complete resume, and then apply directly via their smartphones or tablets is when we can truly say we have achieved mobile optimization.

Clearly, applying for jobs from a mobile device – not just searching them – is a trend that isn’t going anywhere. And with a reported 96 percent of the Fortune 500’s career sites not optimized for mobile, company’s are scrambling to implement solutions so they don’t lose out on a significant chunk of where the current and future generation’s best talent resides. There is much work to be done, no doubt.

The finger of blame for why we still have so far to go still should not be pointed at the job boards like LinkedIn and TheLadders. Frankly, they’re doing all they can to get mobile going and move the industry forward. But even with their best efforts, they can only go so far if a career site isn’t enabled for mobile apply.

Let’s look at LinkedIn quickly as an example. First of all, in their step-by-step guide to using their mobile apply feature, they are quick to point out that not all positions listed on the social site will allow for direct mobile apply. Some will immediately direct candidates to the company’s career page, thereby likely forcing the user to apply from their desktop rather than their phone. Not optimal!

Ok, but let’s say a job seeker is able to get past that barrier and complete the process by tapping “submit to apply” from their phone, is that it? Have we reached mobile apply nirvana? No, unfortunately we have not.

Once a candidate hits “submit”, their application isn’t instantly ported into the company’s ATS. Unless the hiring company has enabled a true mobile apply solution, the recruiter will likely have to take the candidate’s information and manually enter it into their ATS. Or, worse yet from a candidate experience standpoint, after hitting “Submit”, the job seekers themselves will be directed to the company’s ATS to go through the whole cumbersome process that’s always been associated with applying to a job. Again, not optimal. 

The point of this post is not to call out LinkedIn or anyone else in particular. To reiterate, I think it’s great to see everyone embracing and doing all they can to achieve mobile optimization. I just don’t think we’re there yet. So, in order to keep focused on the end-goal, let’s be careful about tossing the word optimization around too loosely. There's more work to be done. 

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Comment by Darren on August 15, 2013 at 7:23am

We made a LinkedIn mobile apply profile feature for our websites 18 months ago, LinkedIn are slow to react to mobile in my view.


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