How to Make the Mobile Job Application Experience Great for Candidates

Get the mobile recruiting experience wrong and you might be scaring off the talent you need.

learn more about Kes Thygesen

By Kes Thygesen • Aug 12, 2016


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The increase in mobile device usage continues, and that puts pressure on employers to focus their recruiting efforts on the mobile generation. However, the lack of mobile innovation and optimization leaves a lot of candidates behind.

A September 2014 Jibe report found that 20 percent of the 1,000 job seekers surveyed would give up on an online job application if they couldn't complete it on a mobile device. In spite of 70 percent of job seekers looking to apply for a job on a smartphone, only about a quarter of large companies have optimized their hiring process for mobile devices.

So what do candidates want out of their mobile application experience? Simply put -- simplicity. A September 2014 survey from Indeed found that 78 percent of the 3,374 respondents would apply to jobs on their mobile devices if the process were simplified.

It's hard to solve a problem without specific details on the most pressing issues. These are some of the most common tech hurdles associated with poor mobile job application experiences:

1. Awkward formatting.

When page content doesn't format properly, it can be frustrating for the user. How can candidates understand the job posting and know how to complete an application when bullet points don't align and the text is clumped in blocks separated by too much wasted space?

Related: How This Startup is Making Mobile App Development Easier

They can't, which may force them to zoom in to read the small text, then zoom out or scroll left and right to fully make out what the text is saying. Consider the candidate experience. They deserve a cleanly formatted mobile experience that effectively communicates information in a clear way.

Solution: Invest in mobile optimization efforts. Reduce the amount of scrolling, zooming, and tinkering for the candidate. The text should be clearly displayed and aligned so it reads logically.

2. Redundant requests.

Forms that request the same information multiple times are a headache. Candidates want a smooth experience that doesn't consist of redundant requests for the same information again and again.

A 2015 Talent Board study incorporates a case study of AT&T's practices. In response to over 40 percent of their applicants dropping off because the application took 30 minutes, they shortened it from 75 questions to 31. This resulted in reduced drop off, down to 12 percent.

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Keep time in mind, since job seekers are busy networking, researching companies and of course submitting applications to companies they want to work for. Respect their time by focusing on what information is needed in the application process. Are all the questions and requests necessary at this point in the recruitment process?

Solution: Reduce the amount of requests and steps involved. What does the hiring team need to know about a candidate before disqualifying them or advancing them through the process? What information does the resume and cover letter provide? Can decisions be made off of those two documents? Request only what is absolutely necessary.

3. Excessive menus.

The fact that candidates are using small screens makes it tough to incorporate a lot of menus and screen swipes. The 2014 Indeed survey found that 53 percent of respondents highlighted small screens as a major barrier to mobile apply.

That means candidates don't want to jump through multiple hoops, swiping and clicking through various menus, icons, and buttons. When they see the same information presented multiple times throughout the process, they question the credibility of the posting. A notable company certainly would refine their application process and stay concise and straightforward.

Plus, when a menu or page change freezes and halts the application process, candidates are left frustrated and likely to move on to another company.

Solution: Reduce menus and drop downs by sharing only the information relevant to the application. Be concise and focus on what needs to be conveyed to apply. Make directions and calls-to-action clear with large, interactive buttons that are easy to find.

4. Resume upload.

Candidates spend 20 minutes filling out information and answering questions in several different menus only to come to the last step, which requires a resume upload. The problem is they don't have their resume on their phone.

Related: Why Your Small Business Needs a Mobile App

Indeed also found that 38 percent of respondents cited difficulty tailoring resumes to apply for different jobs as key barriers to applying on mobile devices today. Essentially, candidates are faced with a few issues when it comes to resumes and mobile applications -- they don't have their resumes saved on their phone. And even if they do, they need to rewrite their resumes for each posting on a device that has word processing software, like a computer.

Solution: Offer resume upload options that link to their LinkedIn profile, Dropbox, Google Drive or other file hosting services. This way, they can access the different resumes they have written and can find and submit the one tailored for the posting. Also, include an email option so they can email the posting to themselves if they need to complete the application on their computer.

Kes Thygesen

Co-founder and head of product at RolePoint

Kes Thygesen is the co-founder and head of product at RolePoint, a complete social recruiting suite that provides unrivaled access and reach to quality job candidates.

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