Job apps - making your phone work harder

Recruiters are turning to mobiles and smartphones, changing the way young engineers hunt for new jobs.

Last year's National Online Recruitment Audience Survey, published by Enhance Media, found that one in ten online jobseekers are using Internet-enabled phones such as the iPhone or Blackberry to browse the web for jobs. Enhance Media director Giles Guest says engineers are one of the four demographic groups using mobile devices for job-seeking more than any other type of job seeker.

"One of the other four demographics are people under 25, meaning the combination of the two makes mobile devices an essential part of job-seeking for young engineers in particular," he says. "This also makes it even more important for engineering employers, agencies and job boards to set up mobile versions of their sites and their attraction strategies."

Moving towards a mobile future

As yet, most organisations and agencies do not have mobile-specific recruitment sites. If a site hasn't been optimised for the mobile environment this can make the browsing experience slow and frustrating. We all expect and want the same fast and hassle-free browsing that we get at our desktops but users have to accept that we're not at this stage yet. Those accessing such sites shouldn't lose patience or dismiss the medium, though. As Guest says: "Think 'the Internet in 1999' and you might be close to seeing where we are now and where we might be heading."

There is little doubt, though, that mobile devices will increasingly be used to apply for jobs, and requesting job alerts to be sent to a mobile phone is already common practice. Opting into Monster's Target SMS service, for instance, enables the job board to identify you as someone who matches an employer's criteria. As soon as a potential opportunity arises, a message is sent direct to your mobile.

Be a virtual officer engineer

We are also seeing the increased use of mobile devices in specific campaigns and projects, and the Royal Navy is currently using an iPhone app and a Facebook widget to try to attract engineering talent. Jointly developed by the Central Office of Information (COI) and interactive creative agencies Marvellous and Glue, the Royal Navy Engineer Officer Challenge sets job-seekers five interactive missions based on realistic training tasks. Using features such as the iPhone’s touch screen interface and accelerometer, some of the challenges are set aboard HMS Deter, which urgently needs repairs. As the lieutenant in charge, the player makes crucial decisions, just as he or she would as an engineering officer. These include fixing the engine, preparing for a simulated missile attack or re-wiring the radar system.

Jon Carney, founder and CEO of Marvellous, explains that the objective was to replicate the demands on Royal Navy officers and challenge people to see how they cope with solving complex engineering tasks under pressure. “The iPhone is perfect to display complex technology and by planting the campaign across social media it’s positioned where the next generation of Royal Navy officers are right now.”

After each challenge the players see video footage showing the impact of their decisions in the task. Their score is then submitted to a leaderboard where they can challenge a friend or visit the Royal Navy website for more career information. They can also join the Royal Navy Facebook group.

Engaging with the audience

Maxine Brown, mobile production and technology specialist at the COI, was in no doubt about the appropriateness of the campaign for the audience. She says potential engineer officers are "tech-savvy, optimistic achievers" and a large percentage of them own iPhones. "The iPhone app engaged them at their level, catering to their love of superior, cutting-edge technology while challenging them to undertake the types of missions an engineer officer in the Royal Navy would encounter," she says. "We knew the audience was also very social and the Facebook version of the widget provided the reach and the ‘challenge a friend’ functionality which gave it that 'virability'.

Brown says the response so far has been huge: after only a few weeks, more than 50,000 people had downloaded the iPhone app and there were over 8,000 active users of the Facebook widget. "It is early days yet in terms of processing the enquiries generated and then qualifying potential candidates but the great response has certainly prompted many conversations with the right people in the mobile and social media spaces," says Brown. "The campaign is still live with people coming through the funnels, so we have not yet been able to assess the full impact of the app and the wider campaign, but digital – including mobile – is something that is at the heart of the Royal Navy's overall strategy and should the application prove successful in actually generating qualified recruits it is definitely something we would do again."

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