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Opinion: Mobile Heralds 24x7 Recruitment Model

The recruitment industry may have been seen as slow on the uptake when it came to mobile, but given the level of mobile related chatter, it appears consultancies are keen to catch up fast. But just how many organisations have truly considered the long term cultural changes required to compete in a mobile enabled industry?

The recruitment industry may have been seen as slow on the uptake when it came to mobile, but given the level of mobile related chatter, it appears consultancies are keen to catch up fast. But just how many organisations have truly considered the long term cultural changes required to compete in a mobile enabled industry?

Providing candidates and clients with mobile access to the recruiter’s website is one thing – and an increasingly important thing – but that’s just the start. A mobile strategy needs to encompass not only the mobile savvy candidate and the client checking updates remotely, but also the recruitment consultants: if candidates are responding to job vacancies via mobile during evenings or weekends, shouldn’t the consultant be on top of that?

As Toby Conibear, European Business Development Director, Bond International Software, insists, in what is fast becoming a mobile dominated business model, waiting until 9am on Monday morning could well be too late.

Mobile Candidates

There is no longer a debate about whether mobile is the way to go. Today, smartphone penetration has reached 67% according to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and tablet penetration has reached 22%; while a new generation is now entering the workforce that has only ever interacted online.

Indeed, despite the slow adoption of mobile within the recruitment sector and a lack of strong mobile strategies in the market, ComScore estimates that between 20% and 30% of all recruitment pages are currently viewed via a mobile device. How good that experience may be, however, remains in question.  Meanwhile, any firm not offering a mobile enabled version of its website could see a demotion in mobile rankings on search engines including Google.

Enabling effective interaction via mobile devices is now a necessity. The first step towards a successful mobile strategy must be offering candidates and clients mobile access - and obviously there are some issues regarding the limitations of screen size. Many organisations are still considering the mobile website versus App debate. In reality, candidates are unlikely to download specific Apps for every agency; instead, both candidates and clients will prefer to interact via a mobile web page that provides appropriate content while receiving email updates.

First Place

However, simply providing a mobile enabled experience for clients and candidates is not enough. In this market, timing is now critical, and consultancies need to take a hard look at processes and working practices to exploit mobile technologies and enable a rapid response.  With Internet based data, most agencies are working with very similar sets of candidates; competitive success is all about who gets that candidate in front of the client first.  As the economy improves, employers are increasingly aware of their staff looking around for new opportunities – making job surfing at work a tricky option.  As a result, the vast majority of job applications are being made out of hours, during evenings and weekends.

The organisation that responds first, wins. So waiting until 9am on a Monday morning when candidates have been submitting job applications all weekend is not going to be good enough when the competition is encouraging consultants to work via mobile out of hours.  Providing consultants with secure, password enabled mobile access to the full depth of candidate and client information is becoming essential.

This, of course, raises a number of issues, from the introduction of new working hours to the challenges of managing and incentivising staff that will often be working remotely.  Mobile Apps must also provide the same audit trail as their office equivalents; ensuring consultancies have the same level of control, and visibility of consultant activity.

There is no doubt this is a cultural change that will need to be considered and addressed. But continuing to work traditional nine to five hours is going to be a fast track to failure if the competition is proactively tracking applications out of hours and getting candidates in front of clients first.

Quality Interaction

There are also significant opportunities to exploit mobile technologies to transform client interaction, by improving the quality and timeliness of information available to consultants. From using a client company hyperlink to get a map and directions, to enabling a full candidate database via mobile when in a client meeting; the way consultants engage with clients can take significant steps forward.

Mobile technologies allow consultants to provide higher levels of service during onsite client meetings.  They are able to record in-depth information on the spot, without disrupting the discussion or having to do further admin upon their return to the office.  In addition, the business can request the consultant run a database search and present a candidate long-list while they discuss their job requirements.  This ability demonstrates the mobile consultant’s candidate base and, critically, enables the client to tailor their job specification as required.

For temporary jobs or short term contracts where the client may require a candidate within hours – and certainly within days – this real time provision of candidates provides a clear commercial edge.

Consultants’ use of time outside of the office is further maximised by utilising mobile devices; they are able to receive key job emails, details of newly registered candidates and even run (what would usually be) internal office processes on the move.  Throughout evenings, weekends or travel to their office or client’s office - the advantages of mobile become increasingly clear. 

But this model can be extended even further using the full extent of mobile automation. When the agency loads the assignment onto the mobile website, potential candidates will receive a push notification.  The candidates can then read the assignment and push a button to say if they would like to take it or not. The time taken is only as long as it takes the candidate to read the brief.  In the temporary market, the system can automatically confirm the job to both candidate and employer and send time and place details. The process is streamlined, effective and rapid – and it frees up consultants to undertake the value added roles of client and candidate acquisition.

Of course, this may seem a step too far for recruitment agencies today – considering many are still treating the mobile platform as a business add-on. But given the changing nature of client expectations, 24 hour working, and candidates’ job hunting out of hours; automating processes in this way is set to offer a real competitive edge  in the long term. Why spend time attempting to contact a candidate by telephone, emailing the job specification and waiting for confirmation, before contacting the client, when the whole process can be automated?

Conclusion

No one disputes that mobile is changing the way in which recruitment consultancies interact with candidates. But few organisations appear to have recognised the real implications of an end to end mobile enabled business model. Strict nine to five business hours will fast become a business constraint; in an era of 24x7 job surfing and application, it will be those consultancies that are willing to exploit anywhere, anytime access to information and, increasingly, automation, that will steal a march on the competition. Mobile enabling of the website is just the start of what will be a fundamentally different recruitment business model.