Mobile Recruiting Apps: A Gimmick or Here to Stay?

Mobile technology may be bursting at the seams in the consumer market, but the HR industry appears to be in the infancy of its adoption.

Globally, only 110 out of 694 employers have a mobile career website or app. With smartphone usage skyrocketing among students and graduates, this is yet another gap for employers to close sooner rather than later, According to a 2013 study from employer research firm Potentialpark.

Mobile apps from companies such as Wowzer and HireVue provide a video-screening platform to streamline the hiring process for both candidates and hiring managers. Hiring managers are able to send as many prerecorded questions as they like and can see how candidates respond and react on video.

“The mobile revolution is imminent. The majority of job seekers are ready and waiting to get started today, and some already have. However, employers are only slowly giving mobile access to jobs and careers,” said Julian Ziesing, chief analyst at Potentialpark. “The top-ranked companies have gone through a trial and error process for years to create an all-embracing, meaningful and fun candidate experience.”

For organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve or just keep up with the talent trends, deciding whether to invest in building an app from the ground up can be a challenge.

“There [haven’t] been enough companies extensively using these apps yet to have a rock-solid business case, nor sufficient data to point that companies like Wowzer, HireVue or any other apps are used successfully,” said Michael Marlatt, founder of mRecruiting Camp, which puts on an annual mobile recruiting conference that allows both talent management and technology leaders to team up and discuss the intersection of recruitment and mobile innovation.

Marlatt has been in the recruitment business for more than 16 years and has been using HR mobile technology for more than 12 years. He’s recruited and consulted for companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.

“The main challenge with leveraging any type of mobile technology for recruitment is a simple matter of know-how,” Marlatt said. “There’s a lack of understanding surrounding what’s actually out there and available for companies to use.” Hiring leaders express their desire to be innovative and find the top talent, but then they use more antiquated hiring methods, which goes against this idea.

Part of it is just a matter of education, Marlatt said, and if recruiters were asked about apps like Wowzer, the majority would have never heard of them.

However, other mobile experts — like Craig Fisher, who is a global consultant with Ajax Workforce Marketingsay mobile recruitment apps are here to stay. Fisher spends a lot of his time consulting with employers on how to use social media and mobile apps for recruitment, and he started the first hashtag chat for recruiters on Twitter called #TalentNet.

Fisher said there are a lot of situations where the use of mobile recruiting apps to perform video interviewing has been proven effective and saves a company time and money compared to an in-person interview.

“This is not just a trend — it’s becoming the norm, and it’s rapidly becoming the norm,” Fisher said. He also points out that companies such as Adidas have used online video interviewing apps for many years.

Hiring managers, on the other end of the process, are able to view these video interviews on both their browser window and on a mobile phone on-demand. This on-demand option, Fisher said, which enables hiring managers to view interviews at their own pace, is a big time-saving perk.

Even though it might be too soon to gauge the effectiveness of mobile recruitment apps, Marlatt said what has been effective thus far is using technology that is available across all devices.

A prime example of this would be hiring managers using SMS to spread the word about job openings to a group of people who opt in. SMS is the most widely used data application because regardless of the mobile device or wireless phone carrier, anyone — from Gen Y job seekers entering the workforce to seasoned baby boomers — has texting capabilities.

In the future, both Marlatt and Fisher say that job seekers have — and will continue to have — a significant presence in the social media sphere, a component of which is increasingly integrating mobile apps.