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At the last HR job I had before starting my own consulting business, I was hiring retail employees through an online application system. This did away with the stacks of paper applications I dealt with at my first HR job, and made it easier to keep applicant data organized. I loved the online system, but we had not yet addressed the fact that many of our candidates were now applying for jobs via mobile devices.
An effective recruiting strategy must address the rapid growth in the use of mobile devices. In today’s post, we will look at some ways to approach mobile recruiting as it relates to the retail sector.
Meeting Candidates Where They Are
When hiring retail employees, I regularly heard from applicants who said they had a hard time compleiting the application on their phone. Many of us are starting to rely much more heavily on smart phones and tablets for the things we used to do on laptops and desktops. This means a lot more applicants visiting your employment site on their mobile devices.
Applicants quickly grow frustrated when an online application is difficult to complete. These days, if your site is not mobile-friendly, you risk losing potentially good future employees because your application does not work well on their mobile device. In the retail world, they will simply move on to another employer with an easier-to-use application.
Simplify the Process
At my HR job in grocery, our online system allowed applicants to upload a resume or LinkedIn profile to help fill in the sections of the application. This can save an applicant a lot of time, especially if they are simply accessing their LinkedIn profile from their phone and uploading that to the online system.
It can be a challenge to fill out lots of detailed information about work history, education and skills on a mobile device. If someone does not have an online profile or a home computer, they may avoid applying for jobs with an application that does not work with their phone.
Many retail jobs do not have a huge list of qualifications. Ultimately customer service skills are the top qualification, and this is something that is best assessed in person. So, as my former boss and fellow Blogging4Jobs blogger Sabra Reyes said, why not create a simplified version of the application? Stick to asking for just enough information to decide if the applicant is worth interviewing. If the applicant is called for an interview, then have them complete the full application.
Don’t Forget the Value of Human Contact
Technology has done great things for the hiring process. It allows us to easily track, search and process applications in a much more efficient way than a paper system. This is important in a retail environment where a busy week can bring in a flood of applications.
But there are also downsides to technology. When hiring for retail employees, one of the biggest complaints I heard from applicants was that the online process was too impersonal. So even after you have made your site mobile friendly, and you have set up your online system to meet your needs, do not forget to find ways to reach out to candidates by phone and in person.
In a previous post I mentioned how planning your own in-house job fair can help make the application process more personal. Send out an email to all active applicants in your system who match the criteria for your current openings. Invite them to a job fair at your business, so they can meet hiring managers and HR staff. This gives applicants a chance for personal connection in the otherwise murky online application process. It’s also an easy way for you to meet applicants and decide who may be worth a full interview.
Remember to follow up with candidates after interviews. Stay in touch via phone and email, especially if the process takes longer than expected.
In the End…
It is important to address the growing use of mobile devices in the application process. Doing so ensures that you are meeting applicants where they are and makes the process engaging. But even with the increased use of technology, don’t forget to incorporate human contact into your process.