2013 must be the year that mobile is accepted as mainstream rather than add-on. The debate will continue over responsive web design v mSite v mobile application, but anything that isn’t built mobile first just isn’t worth buying, and the person selling it to you is akin to a thief. Selling you something which they know is going to become redundant within 18 months. I would steer a wide berth when mobile is offered an option, you need to be thinking mobile to web rather than web to mobile. In some countries mobile search on Google is up to 60%. The emerging net nations are skipping desktops and going straight to mobile, which offers new opportunity for global recruiters.

I’m really excited about the prospect of mobile as a recruiting channel. As mobile search on Google rises (and it won’t go down), mobile optimization is great for SEO, because Google gives preference to mobile optimized sites in mobile search, and Facebook enables the targeting of promoted stories by device type. Any kind of social recruiting will attract far more response from mobile devices, and the destination you are sending people to needs to reflect this. Dave Martin, formerly of AllTheTopBananas and BraveNewTalent is working on a new product, Pocket Recruit. I don’t know much about this yet, but I know Dave, and it is another one to keep an eye out for. The three mobile stories that stood out for me this year were from Arie Ball, who launched the helpful app for Sodexo in the US. The app gives users different content and features according to their status, divided by employees, alumni and external people. Whilst I don’t remember the exact data, the biggest results came from internal mobility, because recruiters can match employee profiles with opportunity and notify them in real-time. When we talk target audience, we often forget the internal audience of employees, and it is this audience who offer the most potential. Most companies consider internal mobility to be putting jobs up on a notice board, and asking for permission to apply, what is different in this case is the app, and the notifications, without the need for permission to apply. UK company AllTheTopBananas developed the app for Sodexo after a meeting at #truLondon.
Number two is Carrie Corbin of A.T.&T. Not surprisingly for a phone company, mobile features highly in their recruiting efforts. Corbin reminded me of the importance of not forgetting text in favor of sexier mobile options. Corbin gets a fantastic response to combining the A.T.&T talent network with text messaging. There is a higher open rate than any other form of messaging, and usually within minutes of receipt. By targeting texts, and adding a link to job opportunities with a simple click-through, they also get a great response.
The other story is from Mike Vangel, who is responsible for implementing and managing social recruiting efforts with U.P.S. Vangel was responsible for launching the highly successful UPS road trip campaign on Facebook, (as well as a social recruiting approach built over 3 years) that required users to view employee videos and rank them. Over 70% of the views were via a mobile device. This changes the way we need to think about video production, taking out graphics and flash changes, and looking for short, clear content with great lighting. YouTube is built for mobile, giving real opportunities for building culture branding content through video for mobile. Vangel comments that the one thing he would have done differently if he did the whole thing again would have been to put mobile in place first.

This year I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jeremy Langhans of Expedia (formerly of Starbucks), first at #SHRMAtlanta, and then at #ATCMobile and #truAus in Sydney. In Atlanta, Jeremy brought me up to speed on his work with Starbucks, where he built the first responsive web design career site. Langhans’ belief is that career sites should be device agnostic, whatever device the user views the site on, the content should adjust to them without the need for different mSites on different domains.

The site, navigation and functions adjust according to the device being used. Everything is built around user experience. Think about the way you view a site on different devices from desktop, tablet or smart phone. You need the navigation to be different with menus in different places. The smaller the screen size, the less text you want, and the more you need images and bigger the buttons you need. Langhans believes that if you need to pinch or stretch screen images then the user experience is poor, and the visitor is more likely to abort the site and go elsewhere. Langhans is also a big advocate for making the experience end to end from view to apply or expression of interest to avoid losing interested people.

The majority of companies are still building from desktop to mobile, trying to recreate the same experience, whereas the build should really be the other way round. Traffic from desktops will only decrease year on year. It is expected that mobile access will overtake desktop by the end of 2013, accelerated by the release of the 4G network globally, which will more than halve load times for data.

Whilst responsive web design is a good catch all solution, serious consideration should be given to mSites built for specific devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Android etc. Whilst Apple have enjoyed a degree of dominance in the market, the Android market share is rising at a significant rate, driven by the success of Samsung in particular. The benefit of using an mSite is that you can build the experience, functions etc to be device specific. What you want to do with an iPhone may well be quite different to what you want to do on an Android. The area that really interests me here is that you can target sponsored Facebook updates to specific device type, and drive traffic to an mSite built for this purpose. UK mobile expert Dave Martin and Metashift founder Matt Alder reported in their Guide to mobile recruiting 2012 reported that in the UK there are 40M ‘recruitment related’ Mobile Google searches a month,and a mobile site provides direct traffic. I recommend downloading this free report for plenty of data on the mobile landscape.

Social is mobile, with up to 80% of tweets, and 65% of Facebook updates coming from a mobile device, given the volume of searches conducted via mobile, we should now consider the web as a whole to be mobile, and always think mobile first.

The other consideration in the mix is adding a dedicated native mobile app. Aki Kakko, my partner in crime for the new #tru events spoke about apps as a part of the mobile infrastructure at #truAus, and gave some incredible stats for the level of downloads, particularly on iPhone. When you consider the volume, and the fact that we use apps for just about everything on mobile (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc). Why should recruiting be any different? There is a strong case for adding native apps for internal comms and mobility, talent networks for push notifications etc. I also see a real benefit for offering a dedicated app to candidates coming for interview to provide progress notifications, additional content, maps (using geolocation), picture of the interviewer and the facility for check in on arrival. Consider this for candidate experience, and the opportunity to offer a fantastic user experience. The uses are endless when you consider the potential, and the addition of augmented reality.

Another interesting thought came from JobRapido founder Vito Lomelle, when we were discussing their plans to role out on Facebook through an app. I asked about the plans for a mobile app, and Vito pointed out that there was no point developing two. As Facebook see themselves as a mobile rather than a social media company, why not develop one app for mobile and social.

One of the big story’s around mobile this year has been the rise of BranchOut, going from less than a million users to over 27M within 6 weeks when they launched their mobile Facebook app, with very simple friend invites in groups of 50 friends. The bigger story was the fall in Branchout users, at an even quicker rate. Despite the decline, this showed the real potential to go viral very quickly, combining mobile with Facebook. Review site Glassdoor have learnt from this, and adopted the same approach, with an app with a very similar invite function, that has seen them grow to 2,400,000 monthly average users in less than 12 months.  Leaders in Facebook recruiting apps Work4Labs have just launched their mobile app which enables candidates to apply in Facebook from mobile. This is a real step forward, and I look forward to seeing how this develops.

The big lesson for me last year is that the web, rather than social only is mobile, and that mobile optimization has a big impact on SEO. Job seekers want more than what is generally on offer now, and the companies who make moves in this area will be the ones who win out. In tomorrows post I’m going to look in more detail at mobility, video and how these technologies are impacting on the candidate experience. Hope you are finding the series useful, only 5 more to go!

Bill