TA leaders take note: Job applications via smartphone on the rise

The power of mobile devices in the recruitment process is continuing to climb, according to hiring solution provider Harver, which found that 60% of people who register for their assessments during the job application process did so on mobile devices this year.

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The vendor—which counts McDonald’s, Heineken, Chili’s restaurants and Valvoline as clients—found that mobile applications for jobs have climbed an average of five percentage points each year since 2020 when 49% were done on mobile devices. Last year, that number rose to 55% for the use of mobile-based applications. Meanwhile, desktop-based applications have decreased by 6% every year since 2020 while tablet-based registrations remained steady since the start of the decade. 

What does this mean for HR and talent acquisition leaders?

According to Oliver Staehelin, chief strategy and development officer at Harver, it all comes down to demographics. He says smartphones became increasingly more prevalent in the workforce as older generations, many without smartphones, retired and younger generations, many with smartphones, entered the workforce. Harver’s research found that 80% of candidates registering for jobs via mobile devices are below the age of 30.

“As smartphones become a large part of our work lives, the collective workforce expects to be able to get more done with them, especially as remote work culture driven by the pandemic has increased the likelihood of using them for work-related tasks,” says Staehelin

As a result, candidates are increasingly opting to apply for jobs and take job-related assessments on their mobile devices, adds Staehelin. “In today’s job market, in which the candidate is in the driver’s seat, HR leaders must recognize candidate agency and the need to meet the candidate at their preferred device,” he says. Talent acquisition will be a key topic at the 2023 HR Tech Virtual Conference from Feb. 28 to March 2.

Mobile apps designed for prospective job candidates not only have the potential to deliver convenience, but they can also help break down the barriers that often exist in modern job application solutions, such as lengthy and repetitive tasks for uploading resumes, contact information and job experience. 

“Companies meeting applicants on mobile devices should expect to benefit from an increase in applications due to this added convenience, as well as a reduction in time to hire,” he says. 

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That said, HR and TA leaders need to prepare for this steadily growing method of hiring new staff over smartphones. In the coming year, Staehelin suggests that HR leaders and recruiters make employee-centric recruiting a priority. This includes auditing their recruiting and onboarding processes for any barriers to entry for job applicants. 

“Are all aspects of your process optimized for mobile? If not, you may be creating unintended friction for candidates as well as negatively affecting the candidate experience,” he says. “It is also important to note that the device of choice for candidates may still be desktop, or a combination of desktop and smartphone, depending on the role.”

In addition, Staehelin recommends that HR leaders maintain “a human touch” in order to connect with candidates. Employee experience will be a key topic at the 2023 HR Tech Virtual Conference from Feb. 28 to March 2.

“By recognizing candidate agency, companies are more likely to strike the perfect balance between engagement, effectiveness and efficiency in their talent acquisition strategy,” he says, adding that this can “further position themselves as an employer of choice.”

Registration is open for the HR Tech Virtual Conference from Feb. 28 to March 2. Register here.

Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus is the former HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children.