Mobile Career Sites: Part 2 – Sources of Applicants and Activity

This is Part 2 of my blog about Mobile Career Sites and applicant tracking. In Part 1, we looked at the raw numbers of applicants that applied on our career sites and the type of device they used. In this blog, I will try to answer the question that Kevin Grossman at Ventana Research posed to me…

"I would like to know where those job seekers came from, and what they did on the site once they got there!"

I used the same data for this research as I used in Part 1. So here are the findings…

Where did the job seekers come from?
We track referring URL for every visitor (if there is one), so the data we are using is gathered in the background from the user's browser. Obviously, this is much more accurate than asking the user. One limitation of using this method to identify source is that the referring URL is blank if the user typed the URL directly into the browser.

For the companies that I used in the research, this is the breakdown of the sources:
Traffic Sources

All Traffic

Mobile Traffic




Referring Sites



Search Engines




Direct Traffic – These are users that typed the URL of the career site directly into their browser, and therefore did have a referring URL. It is interesting that the percent of mobile users that are "Direct" is about 20% lower than the entire population. My assumption would be that the mobile devices have a less user friendly keyboard, and typing a URL into those devices is too much work for most people. (Recruiting Tip: Consider using a Tiny URL or a Quick Response Bar Code (Check out this blog "Create a Quick Response Bar Code for your Career Site") to make it easy for your mobile users to find your job.)

Search Engines – These are referrals directly from Google, Yahoo and Bing. While I believe that these sources will become more prevalent in the future, today they are pretty minimal. For the companies I looked at, Google and Yahoo were almost equal in the number of referrals and Bing was non-existent. Given the small numbers, I would not recommend any specific search engine strategies to target the mobile users

Referring Sites – Referring sites (other than Search Engines) made up about 80% of the mobile traffic referral sources. The referring sites for this group of companies were as follows:

Specific Traffic Sources

All Traffic

% of Total

Mobile Traffic

% of Total










Indeed (indeed/jobs)



Indeed mobile (indeed/m)



Simplyhired (mobile)









I don't think that this sample can be used to make any claims about the effectiveness of different sources or job boards, because the companies have different approaches to how they actually publish jobs. For example, I noticed we did not have much traffic for Monster from these companies, and upon some research I found that none of these companies have an ongoing contract. I would expect that if we had a larger sample of companies, Monster would be more prominent. With that disclaimer in mind, here are some of the interesting findings:
  1. A higher percentage of mobile users were referred by the company's website. This is different than "Direct" traffic. The "Direct" traffic are applicants that typed in the actual URL for the job, whereas, the "Company Site" means the applicant typed the URL of the company in the mobile device and then browsed to the career page on the company site. "Company site" accounted for almost half of the mobile applicants that were not direct traffic, compared to less than 1/3 of the entire population of applicants. This would suggest, that either:
    1. the applicant specifically sought out the company to apply for a job…
    1. The applicant applied to the company because of advertisement other than a job board posting or internet advertisement (perhaps through a newspaper or a help wanted sign)
    This might suggest that mobile devices will play a bigger role in the "call to action" when you are using recruitment advertising methods other than the internet. If you are considering these "non-Internet" methods of advertising, a mobile enabled career site may be very beneficial to you.
  2. The "Miscellaneous" group decreased amongst mobile users. When I looked a little deeper at the numbers, I found that it was because the "miscellaneous" group contained the applicants who responded to a job as a result of an email they received. The email referrals accounted for more than half of the "miscellaneous" referrals for all applicants, but there were very few referrals from emails amongst mobile users.
  3. Job Boards – As I mentioned earlier, this research is in no way meant to identify the popularity of the various job boards (my sample size is too small), however it does highlight some interesting things about the job boards in general:
    1. App vs. mobile-enabled career site – All of the four most popular job boards in my research (SimplyHired, Indeed, Careerbuilder and Craigslist) have a mobile enabled site but I believe that Careerbuilder is the only one that also has an actual "App". Of the applicants who were referred by CareerBuilder, a vast majority of them used the mobile-enabled site (not the app). I would suggest if you can only have one or the other (mobile-enabled site or app), you should probably put your resources toward the mobile-enabled site.
    2. The job board accounted for a lower percentage of referrals for the mobile users than the total population. I would conclude that this is because the mobile user is engaged in a more casual job search than the general population. Taking that reasoning a step further, you might also be able to infer that the mobile user might also be a passive job seeker.
What did the mobile user do once they got to the site?
While there are many ways we could evaluate applicant behavior on the mobile device, I decided to evaluate it the same way we evaluate our pay per click advertising campaigns… Bounce rate, time on the site, pages/visit and percent of new visits. The following is a summary of the results:
All Traffic

Mobile Traffic




Time on site

5.1 mins

4 mins

New Visits %



Bounce Rate %




Pages/visit and Time on site – According to the data in this research, the mobile user does not spend as much time on the site and tends to visit less pages. Recently, Google did a survey to analyze its mobile user-base. In the results, Google grouped the users into three main groups:

Repetitive Now – the user repeatedly visits a site, looks for a little information and then leaves.

Bored Now - the types of users who, for example, are sitting in a café and waiting for friends. This user is not really looking for anything specific, he or she is just looking to be entertained or engaged.

Urgent Now - These are people who need specific information right away (need to check a flight schedule or find a restaurant).

The common theme of all these users is they don't spend much time on a site. They get in, get what they want and get out. Our numbers support this common theme. The mobile user left our site quicker than the total user population.

I would guess that many of the mobile career site users fall into the "Bored Now" category. If you aren't able to engage them, they will leave and do something else. With this data in mind, we need to be aware that the mobile user has a low tolerance for jumping through a lot of hoops. When you are creating your mobile app, you need to think of how you can make the process quick and painless. That might mean that you don't collect the entire job application on the mobile app… just the data that you truly need, and then you invite them to complete the entire process when they have access to a regular PC.

New Visits – I also looked at "New Visitors" vs. "Returning Visitors". I thought that we would see more new visitors to our mobile sites. I suspected that the mobile user would do what they needed to do and never return to the career site again. This was not the case. The new visit numbers for the mobile users were almost the same as the total user population. That suggests to me that the mobile user is trying to use the mobile career site for all the same things that the regular user is using it for… checking their status, scheduling interviews, etc. If that is the case, you need to have a mobile plan for addressing the self-service functions you provide to your applicants on your regular career site. That doesn't mean you have to allow them to do everything that they would normally do on your full site, you just need to recognize that they might try to do these things, and they may be frustrated if you do not provide clear instructions on how and where they need to go to accomplish the task.

Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a term that is used in the "pay per click" business. It tells you how many users were referred to your site, and left the site immediately after viewing the first page. Again, I was surprised that the bounce rate for the mobile user was similar to that of the total user population. What that tells me is that the mobile user is as serious as the regular user about applying for the jobs that they look at. Even though the user might be a "Bored Now" user, they are willing to invest some time to on the application process.

In summary, I would conclude, that the mobile users might find your site by a different method than the regular user, but once they get there, they are willing to become "engaged" in your process. The challenge for us is that these users may not have a lot of tolerance for cumbersome processes. We need to let the user get in, get what they want, and get out!

So much for Part 2… For Part 3, I am going to talk to our usability specialists and development people who work on our mobile products to develop our "Top 10" things to think about when developing your mobile career app… Stay tuned!

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