In theory, the smartphone should be a job seeker's best friend. It's easy to research companies, network with business contacts, and browse job listings over coffee or on the train. But in practice, there's a big hurdle at the finish line. Most online job applications require lots of writing, data entry, and even file uploads, often over multiple web pages. Completing those desktop-formatted forms with a tiny smartphone screen and keyboard can be tedious or impossible.
How big an issue is it? According to San Francisco-based staffing and recruiting software company Jobscience, 83% of job hunters today look for gigs on their smartphones, but 85% sit down at a desktop computer to actually fill out and submit applications. That's a huge gap between the way people seek jobs and the way the apply for them.
The challenges of applying for jobs via smartphone
"We firmly believe that the mobile device is great for information consumption, but it's terrible for entering text," Jan Schiffman, Jobscience VP of product and technology, told The Motley Fool. "We've seen some other job boards that invite a cover letter to be entered on a mobile device. Aside from how unwieldy it can be to enter a lot of text, and the chance of error in data entry, what if you lose your connection? Then you've just lost everything. We don't want to invite that level of frustration."
To make it easier for mobile-savvy job hunters to apply with its clients, Jobscience this week rolled out its new mobile job-search app, built from the ground up to make applying via smartphone as easy as tapping the screen.
When job seekers visit the job board of one of Jobscience's 500 clients -- which include staffing firms and individual enterprises such as Teach for America -- they will see a list of available jobs and have the option to filter them by location, department, and other criteria. Touching a listing pulls up details. Once users are ready to apply, they can select "apply with LinkedIn," enter their LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD.DL) credentials, and pat themselves on the back for completing their application.
What about job hunters who don't have a LinkedIn account? The Jobscience app gives them the option to save jobs to a list that they can email to themselves for later use (presumably on a desktop). In either case, the maximum amount of text entered on the phone amounts to an email address or a LinkedIn login ID and password.
How much of a difference does this really make? During our interview, Schiffman walked through the process from initial search to submitted application in under a minute. "What may take longer is if you want to use selection criteria and if you want to look at 10 or 15 jobs. But most of your time is not spent interacting with the app," he said.
Good for job seekers and employers
Given the tedium of filling out web forms, applying by phone has a strong appeal, both to digital-native Millennials and to older workers as well. It's no extra work for recruiters and staffing firms, either. The new app is available to all of Jobscience's clients as part of a software update, and it simply adds the job listings they create to the mobile site.
Anything that makes applying for jobs faster and easier should be a boon for job seekers and for companies that want the best possible pools of talent to choose from. If Jobscience's new tool gives its clients a demonstrable hiring advantage, other staffers and recruiters will no doubt look for ways to take the desktop out of the application process, too.