A recent article on DZone "Report Finds Job Seeking Going Mobile" reported on a recent survey that showed a moderate number of job seekers were using mobile devices to research and even apply for new positions. Although there is a place for mobile in the job search process, I would advise anyone who relies extensively on mobile for job search to use caution. The obvious shortcomings of mobile and the "apply now" mentality of the mobile apps combine to do potential harm to job seekers.
As I've written before, I receive many more generic applications for posted jobs today than I did years ago. Sometimes I see a resume with no context, or more often a resume accompanied by a small amount of canned content. I expect this generic approach may be explained by both the popularity of mobile job search apps as well as the way all technology related to job seeking seems designed for "shotgunning" resumes out and not for crafting customized applications (quantity over quality).
Let's look at the pros and cons of mobile job search and use a scenario to illustrate some alternatives.
The benefits of mobile for job search are convenience and ease of real-time notification. Those who respond early to job ads are thought to have some advantage, as a company might close off new applicants once a certain number of potential candidates have been identified. The ability to receive and respond to new open job notifications in real-time is a clear asset to any job seeker.
With added convenience and availability comes risk. Job seekers vying to be an early applicant often sacrifice the ability to customize both their resume and approach. The difficulty of writing content and performing research/reading on mobile is perhaps the biggest relative limitation, and the temptation to be first will lead some to act quickly instead of taking the time to make the best impression.
Your mobile job search app sends a push notification at 3:00 PM.
ALERT: $COMPANY is hiring $POSITION - $CITY - Job posted three minutes ago
You know that this is a popular employer and the competition for this job will be fierce, so you open the app, answer a couple questions (salary, work authorization, etc.) and click 'apply now'. The resume/profile the app has on file is sent to "jobs@company" or some other general repository for applicants. You get a notification at 3:02 PM.
ALERT: Congratulations! You are now 'in consideration' for $COMPANY's $POSITION vacancy
Clicking 'apply now' should be easy on any device, but probably makes for a lazy application. How many job seekers are going to spend time tweaking a resume and writing a well-researched cover letter/email on a mobile device?
Your competition for the job also received the 3:00 PM alert, but that person chose not to click 'apply now' but instead to wait and do a bit of research first. Maybe this person found three LinkedIn connections who work for $COMPANY including a hiring manager and an internal recruiter. Perhaps they noticed that their resume didn't include some recent experience with $SKILL (mentioned in the fine print of the job spec), so they added a bullet point before sending the resume and a few targeted sentences on their candidacy to their connection.
Now that you know what your competition did, would you like a do-over?
Our fascination with one-click technologies will help to save time for users, but that also comes with a cost. Job search apps are primarily designed so companies can receive a high volume of applicants, and that high volume is directly related to the ease of "apply now" features.
Is it most important to be the first guest at the party, or would it be better to arrive a few minutes later as the best dressed?