There are few buzzwords in the recruitment industry being used with more frequency right now than “mobile”. Try it – ask a talent leader at an organization: “What’s your strategy for 2015?” I’ll bet they say something along the lines of “mobile social candidate engagement – using big data!” And then, I’ll bet they run away.

That is, of course, ridiculous. They won’t just run away – they’ll throw a smoke  bomb at the floor, and ninja the heck out of there. And, yes, speaking of buzzwords, I just used ninja. Yikes.

The Risk of No-Mobile

But… to my point. Mobile is, despite the word’s now-ubiquitous use at recruiting conferences, important. There’s debate around how it’s going to be used, why, how to track it, etc etc, but… no real debate that we need to play catch-up when it comes to our career sites, how we communicate our jobs, heck, even the formatting of our job descriptions.

(Finally, btw, firms are being forced to stop throwing every stinking requirement into a job description – mobile demands pithiness, simply because of the screen size. I love this.)

A key part of all of that is mobile apply – that point where a candidate gets to in your job description, and they say “Ah, I want this job, I’d like to let them know I exist”. Quite often, they see a note that says “Interested? Great. E-mail this job to yourself”

Oof – you lose 40% of your candidates right there. And then, how many actually remember to apply when they get that e-mail? I’m still digging into hard evidence, but right now we’re looking at about 50%.

That’s insane, to me – it comes down a 70% drop off rate among mobile applicants. With mobile now accounting for half of all job searches, that’s a number that should make you nervous. Very nervous, indeed.

The Risky Side of Mobile Apply

Now that said, Jeff Waldman – who I happen to think is one of the most terrific people in the industry – raises a solid point in his post “Beware the Dark Side of Mobile Apply”. The risk of an uptick of quantity, without quality. Making it so easy to apply to a job that you get resume spam – your team is overwhelmed with applicants, most of who aren’t qualified for the role, and you lose out on time getting to the candidates you’d like to speak with. You wind up losing time, money, and hires. It becomes a bit like what happened when LinkedIn made it too easy to connect via their mobile app. Connection spamming began, and it’s just getting worse.

That’s… messy.

The Power of CRM

This is where I suggest you leverage your CRM – you do have one, don’t you? If not, get on it – the CRM is critical. As important as your ATS. Peter Gold does a good job explaining why, here. Well worth your read.

The CRM is, essentially, your marketing machine. It’s where you want to have an abundance of potential applicants – the key word there being “potential”. It’s your collection of talent pools, your own personal LinkedIn/ Monster/ etc. Not candidates, per se, just… strong contenders. You actually want to lower the barrier to entry to your CRM, while keeping the barrier to your ATS where it is. The ATS is the walled garden, that you invite individuals into. The CRM is the front lawn, where you’re just having a bit of a party.

So, to my mind, don’t make it a mobile application – that’s almost impossible as it is, considering screen size, human patience, OFCCP issues, etc, when it comes to mobile. Call it… Mobile Connect. Ask them to join your community – tell them (in essence) “Connect with us, and if you’re looking for a job immediately, let us know by checking this box – we’ll take a quick look, and if we see a connection to a role we have open right now, we’ll let you know. If not. or If you just want us to be aware of you, you fabulous person, that’s okay too – we’d just like to invite you to the party against the time in the future when we’re ready for that great dance. And, if you’re really eager and want to get an application going with us, there’s an option to do that, too – we’d just recommend you do it from a PC or a tablet, since there are a few extra steps it’s easier to go through with a bigger screen.”

They key thing is: don’t shy away from mobile, but don’t cast open the doors so wide that you swamp yourself. Turn it into an opportunity to power your CRM, instead, and reap the benefits of a solution that combines… egads.. mobile… candidate experience… social… and, yep, big data (hey – done right, this strategy’s gonna give you all sorts of fun data to slice and dice).