Learning From the Success of Mobile Apps in Other Industries

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Recruiters can learn a lot from the power and success of mobile apps. Industries have been revolutionized by consumer-driven apps, from the oft-pointed-out taxi and payment industries to the less well-known like document preparation (DocuSign), and now recruitment is slowly but steadily shifting toward the candidate-driven experience and efficiency.

Everyone’s on mobile, largely on apps. Not only does an increasing percentage of job searches come from mobile devices, but recent research from Smart Insights show that the bulk of consumers’ time spent on their mobile phones is spent on apps.

Across continents from America, to Europe and Asia, people in 9 countries (US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, China), spend the majority of their time online on mobile devices (62% to 91%), and 80-90% of that time is spent on mobile apps.

That’s a significant confirmation for marketers to step up their mobile and app advertising. And for recruiters, agencies, big and small, we are officially in the app age! What’s at the core of why everyone is on apps so much?

Configurable feeds

Facebook comes down to a huge feed of your friends’ doings. The app is 1 billion strong, now with various configurable settings for newsfeed, visibility and privacy options.

With AirBnB, you can select a country, narrow the results with various filters from budget to city, and your feed is filled with your cottage or condo options.

Upwork– after the brouhaha of merging California’s largest talent/job pools oDesk and Elance– continues to provide job feeds by category on their app, too.

Apps make sure your jobs and announcements get reads and responses, and would also give both recruiters and candidates easy access to the information that’s important to them.

Speed and convenience

In less than half a decade, Uber zoomed from California to worldwide so fast it still gives taxi associations whiplash. Uber consistently gets sued in every country it ends up, but none of the allegations can counter the sheer convenience and transparency offered by the platform.

In staffing, the benefit of an app is for recruiters as much as for candidates. You could post a job and immediately see who in your talent pool matches particular requirements and timelines, right now, when you need them.


Millennials and the Gen X-ers are neck and neck in how much they use mobile phones for job search (78% and 73% respectively, from Indeed.com research). Another similarity: both generations don’t have the spending compulsion (and spending power) of the Boomers, who have singlehandedly supported many industries. Casual dining is among them. Now millennials are getting blamed for hundreds of restaurants closing.

The reason? Millennials choose to stay home, and apps like Blue Apron, ShopWell, Tasty and HelloFresh give them the irresistible cost-savings and efficiency (delivered!) of obtaining groceries and cooking.

All isn’t bleak for casual dining: Cheesecake Factory, Little Italy, Chili’s and others have adopted consumer technology, using third-party apps like DoorDash and GrubHub to provide customers with the efficiency they’ve come to expect and demand from businesses. On the other end, these dining apps provide invaluable data on the consumers (what they’re eating, what age brackets/cities eat what), the same way job search apps give recruiters data on their people (candidate quality, core competencies, availability). And as Matt Charney says, “Your greatest asset isn’t your people. It’s the data about your people.” The new face of HR technology.

“HR Technology has long been a bit solipsistic, an island that seemed insulated from the forces of the modern world, which is why so few legacy systems are mobile-enabled or user friendly.” – Matt Charney

HR technology that needs rolling out, training, with fussy top-down implementation, doesn’t provide the feeds, speed, convenience and efficiency of “self-service,” “self-configure,” apps.

As more and more forward-thinking recruiters and agencies recognize this, HR technology and consumer apps are slowly becoming the same thing. Human capital management, with its applicant tracking systems, is the next industry already getting revamped by mobile technology.

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