Tablet selecting woman job applicantWhen mobile recruiting started being something people blogged about, it seemed like a long shot. Networks were slow and spotty, applications were tedious and long and online profiles had little to no standardization. Responsive Design as a web development standard wasn’t even part of the lexicon. Mobile Recruiting was something that only die-hards believed in and only large companies and vendors (with big development budgets) could even attempt. Even analysts with their eye on the long game didn’t see how it could ever become mainstream.

Now the story has changed in nearly every category.

The hardware: Mobile devices no longer just mean small phones with limited coverage, tablets changed all that. And while most Android die-hards will cry foul, the iPhone/iPad/iTouch set the standard for some serious forward propulsion around what our mobile devices do, how they do it and how to design for it. Battery life is extended, typing gets smarter and faster, the apps are specifically designed to make it easy to do business.

The environment: It’s a lot easier now to use phones than it used to be. Services like Dropbox, Evernote and make it easy to host documents and presentations anywhere you’d like. Square, PayPal and Google Checkout make it dead simple to pay for things online. You can send invoices, purchase products and check your online balance all from your phone. Stands to reason you could conduct your job search there too.

The ease of use: Touch to type, copy and paste features, talk to text and keyboard shortcuts- all features that are close to standard on lots of mobile devices nowadays. Not to mention that many people use their phones for just about everything, meaning longer battery life, more accessories and tons of apps — rated and reviewed by a huge community. Responsive design standards mean that most newer websites can be viewed on a screen of any size. There is a lower barrier of entry to a smartphone as well, putting mobile recruiting top of mind for blue and grey collar jobs.

The applications: Now that the environment, hardware and coverage have all changed, HR technology vendors have followed suit. LinkedIn was one of the first to create an easy to use mobile recruiting tool (easy apply buttons essentially), followed quickly by Indeed. Beyond and Monster both have custom apps for their job boards that email openings to jobseekers. Tons of online resume databases keep your resume and profile intact and accessible for jobseekers to quickly shoot to recruiters and hiring managers.

Back when bloggers and analysts pooh-poohed the idea of mobile recruiting as any significant part of the talent acquisition process, many were (including me) were thinking too small. No, filling out a long, radio-button, text-input, application online from your T9 razr phone on the subway isn’t going to happen, but being able to create a tweaked profile to auto-populate an online app and email it to your home address so you can finish it later is possible now. In fact, 1 in 5 recruitment searches is now mobile.

If you compare the mobile-enabled careers section experience to other industries then recruitment clearly has some catching up to do when it comes to a mobile strategy. The retail industry is well ahead because they realised early on that if they didn’t cater for a mobile audience they would lose sales.

Recruiting is now catching up. This is huge and shows that even the large majority of industry analysts can be wrong sometimes.

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