Recruiters weigh in on the pros and cons of mobile job applications

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Back in the last century, jobseekers anxiously awaited the Sunday paper for its massive classified ads section with the hope of spotting a great job and being the first to apply. Nowadays, job opportunities pop-up 24/7 in real time, sans newspapers, courtesy of modern technology.

“In today’s market, employers need to appeal to their candidate pools and find ways to encourage people to apply – the more convenient, the better the chance an applicant will apply,” said Karen Alary, managing partner at the Personnel Perspective in Santa Rosa. “Conversely, the more complex, the less likely an applicant will complete the process.”

That fact isn’t lost on BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., a global biotechnology firm headquartered in San Rafael.

“The challenge is on the employer’s side and our need to adapt,” said Amy Wireman, group vice president of Human Resources, who commented based on feedback from BioMarin’s talent acquisition team. “To remain competitive, employers must optimize their websites with the mobile user in mind — for example, allowing for job postings to be easily read on a device that is a fraction of the size of a desktop monitor or laptop screen, or allowing job applications to be completed in a few simple key strokes.”

BioMarin reports seeing a rise in mobile applications, but notes jobseekers using a desktop or laptop still outpace mobile by 2-to-1.

Those applying for jobs using their smartphones aren’t limited to Millennials, as some might presume.

“Millennials — and now Gen Zs, as well — grew up with smartphone in-hand so it comes naturally to those groups of our workforce,” Alary noted. “However, the other generations use the technology just as effectively.”

One of the biggest factors for businesses in the mobile-application sphere is they must be able to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Council requirements, according to Santa Rosa-based Keysight Technologies.

“Employers must balance capturing legally required application information with the “ease of use” mobile experience of the jobseeker,” said Mark Bajan, head of talent acquisition, America’s Region, Keysight Technologies, Inc. “This is easier said than done due to various mobile-device platforms, restrictions of the company’s recruiting-system provider, poorly implemented or tested recruiting systems, and the need for easy-apply applications that load a resume into the employer’s ATS (applicant tracking system).”

Overall, Bajan said recruiting through mobile devices can be “very effective” in capturing qualified candidates — and often easier for the candidate — but it hasn’t changed the way experienced recruiters go about their work. In fact, in some ways, it makes a recruiter’s work more complex.

“For example, a one-click apply feature to multiple jobs may result in an increase in applicants, but it still requires significant time for a recruiter to review more candidates. You would think this would be a nice problem to have, but imagine you’re a recruiter with 30-plus active jobs to fill,” he said. “Now instead of having to review 10 candidates per week per job, you’re flooded with 50 to 100 candidates, per requisition, every week. The time needed to do an initial resume screen goes way up, limiting recruiter productivity.” Some of these issues can be resolved with various application-assessment tools, he added.

Mobile devices can help recruiters in other ways, according to Nicole Serres, president of Petaluma-based Star Staffing.

“Smartphones allow us to connect with passive candidates and keep a relationship going,” she said. “Knowing that 90% of adults have phones and are accessing them throughout the day, a great amount of time is spent around executing an online-recruitment strategy.”

As such, Star Staffing has a dedicated role for social media to engage with candidates, she said.

And if you think mobile devices are the end of the technology road for recruiting, think again.

McDonald’s has reportedly launched “McDonald’s Apply Thru,” which works on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, according to reporting this week from the Society for Human Resource Management, a professional HR-membership association headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

Staff Writer Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and education. Reach her at cheryl.sarfaty@ or 707-521-4259.

Editor Anthony Borders contributed to this report.

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