The mobile jobseeker
It’s no secret that more and more people are browsing the web on smartphones and tablets. The times when desktop use exceeded mobile use are well behind us, and there’s a dizzying array of devices on the market that have mobile web browsers built in – like games consoles, watches and even fridges! (Some of these devices, of course, aren’t very mobile at all.)
Though a lot of mobile web usage is actually for social interaction, it’s increasingly popular to carry out more professional, business-related tasks with the help of a mobile device. And why not, after all? Since most of us carry our phones everywhere, it only makes sense to be able to catch up on email while on the train, waiting in the lobby or while grabbing a bit of lunch.
So far so good, but as you may well be aware, mobile accessibility isn’t a given with all sites. Each site has to be specially configured for mobile use; that is, if the site owner wants to provide a top user experience. And while mobile browsers are always getting better at displaying difficult web pages, there’s nothing quite like a fully mobile optimised site to welcome the user who’s on the go.
Octo Tip: This guide won’t tell you how to build a website. Its purpose is to explain the current state of mobile browsing and to illustrate what specialist careers site designers like Blue Octopus can provide.
How things have changed
Octo Tip: Mobile technologies aren’t always adopted immediately – for example, HTML browsing trailed behind WAP for much longer in Japan than Europe. Keep in mind that your customers won’t always have the latest kit in their pocket.
What do jobseekers look for?
These days, it is at least possible for mobile devices to display all but the most badly designed of websites. Having said that, lots of things are possible but not practical, like still advertising jobs in a newspaper - ‘get with the times’. It doesn’t mean it’s the best way, and it’s still pretty clear to a savvy user when the developer hasn’t put much effort into optimising a site for phones and tablets. But what exactly does that optimisation process involve?
One of the most obvious things that web developers have to compensate for is the smaller screen size. A desktop layout with, say, a row of buttons, two columns of text and a sidebar of images will need some serious reconfiguring if it’s all to fit comfortably on a screen less than three inches across.
The general strategy is to stack elements vertically rather than horizontally, using either a special, separate mobile site (adaptive design) or a single template that reshapes itself to the width of the screen (responsive design). Other techniques involve hiding menus behind buttons or reducing functionality for mobile users.
So on a careers site, you could provide latest vacancies front and centre, with background information about the company being placed on other pages or behind menus that hide themselves off to the side.
The reasons for moving things around like this don’t just come down to saving screen space. The mobile jobseeker wants to find what they’re looking for right away, and when you think about it, it’s easy to see why. Mobile devices still render sites more slowly than desktops and laptops, both due to the less powerful hardware and the often rather ropey state of data connections.
When they’re looking for the latest vacancies, noone wants to tap through three or four pages of unrelated stuff when they’re on the bus and their signal keeps dropping.
Octo Tip: Remember that you’ll be competing with many different job portals and types of recruitment sites and apps. For example, a jobseeker might apply through LinkedIn, other social networks, job boards, recruitment agencies and all kinds of other methods so it’s vital that your site be accessible. You could be missing out on quality candidates!
Most phones still aren’t very good at opening multiple tabs so ‘bounce rate’ tends to be quite high, even for mobile-optimised sites. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who click away from a page without following any links, and a high rate is often a sign that the front page doesn’t grab the user’s attention the way you’d like. It’s rather like when customers step out of a shop after a matter of seconds. When it’s not easy to switch between several tabs at once, your site’s visitors may well be less patient in taking the time to find what they need; this is another reason to get the user where they’re going as quickly as possible through design.
If a site can be more lightweight all round, then this creates a much better impression for job seekers. Many sites are even built ‘mobile-first’, meaning the mobile version is the original design rather than a cut-down compromise.
Another key part of the mobile experience is location. Many apps and sites take advantage of the fact that a user can be anywhere, and they can often be pinpointed more accurately than on a static computer.
Not only can you show vacancies close to a user’s location, but you can show distances and directions so candidates know how to find you.
Someone could find their way to interview by following the directions given – sounds tricky, but if you integrate with a mapping service like Google Maps this can be a doddle to set up. Or simply attach an easy to follow map to your candidates interview confirmation email (this is really straight forward to do in Octo).
Octo Tip: Many of these things are expected by users, but that’s only really the case if it makes sense. Don’t integrate mapping just for the sake of it – it has to add real value to the user experience. Otherwise, it just gets in the way.
The mobile recruiter
It’s not just jobseekers who need to operate on the move – recruiters and managers of all kinds will want to get things done when away from their desks. Even tasks like reading CVs and writing job ads, which often require certain software, can be done on mobiles and tablets, as they’re increasingly able to handle all kinds of file types and processing overheads.
You’ll just need to arm yourself with a few apps and online tools to get the most out of recruiting on your mobile. Who knows – you might even find it easier to stick to these apps even when in front
of your desktop computer!
A huge range of productivity apps are available to help you schedule meetings and interviews, filter out your email, open PDF files (a common format for CVs, particularly in creative industries) and keep organised notes. Evernote and Google Docs (both on multiple platforms) are great places to start, but you can also check your app store for business and productivity tools.
Since you’ll inevitably be using LinkedIn in some capacity, you’ll find the official LinkedIn apps useful. There are several, which you can pick and choose depending on your role, but you’ll probably get the most out of LinkedIn Recruiter (iPhone and Android) and the main app (supported by multiple platforms).
Phone interviews are obviously easy to do on mobile, but you can even conduct video interviews via Skype (multiple platforms). Got a long train journey ahead? Connect to the onboard wifi, prop your phone up on a table and carry out an interview or two.
Finally, you’ll be best served with an applicant tracking system that supports mobile views – a unified system will almost certainly help you with all of the tasks you would otherwise have to carry
out such as:
• separate emailed candidate applications from other email in your inbox, and sort those by role
• keep track of which candidates you wish to advance to the next stage, and which you wish to decline
• easily locate and store CVs for later access
• contact candidates with feedback using message templates
• place, edit and close vacancies with multiple job boards.
A unified system brings all of these functions into one place, giving it a massive advantage on any platform but especially on a mobile device, where the ability to switch apps and work for extended periods of time is hindered.
Octo Tip: Look for apps that sync your data to the cloud – not only can you continue your work once you’re back on your office computer, but your information will be safe should your device get lost or stolen.
These are some of the important things to keep in mind about building sites for the mobile web, but there’s so much more to know and this information won’t get you far by itself. You will still need professional designers and coders to turn your existing website (if you have one) into a great online mobile experience.
What’s more, we’ll probably find in a couple of years that some of this information is out of date – that new technologies have come in or trends have died out.
It always pays however to know the lay of the land to help in discussions with web developers, and also in order to understand how important mobile recruitment is and be spurred to action. Hopefully we’ve managed to convince you that if you don’t have a mobile recruitment strategy in place, it’s really time to start thinking about implementing one.
Did you know that careers site development is one of the areas in which Blue Octopus operates? We specialise in online recruitment services of all kinds, and a professional careers site is a vital part of almost any organisation’s recruitment toolbox. Naturally, every site we built is custom built from scratch (no templates here!) and are now fully mobile friendly.
Are you unsure if your website is mobile friendly? Google have some great tools for assisting online:
Get in touch!
Blue Octopus thrives on placing people in top roles that they love. Whether for a season or the long term, you can be sure of finding your next job or fill your next placement thanks to our dedicated team and innovative technology.
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