Employee EngagementEnabling TechnologyTalent Acquisition

Device Advice: Hiring And Assessing In A Mobile World

By Michael Switow

“Find your dream job anytime, anywhere,” promises a promotion for JobStreet.com’s mobile app. The southeast Asian online employment marketplace, which started in Malaysia, listed in Australia, and is now in five countries, encourages young workers to “be ready for new opportunities” and tells them they will “easily find the right job” in a prominent ad campaign that can be seen throughout Singapore’s subway system. Posters of young female professionals on their phones and tablets encourage users to update their resumes ‘on the go’ and promise job notices viewable ‘on all mobile devices.’

It makes sense that JobStreet.com is tailoring its products to mobile users. Asia has some of the highest mobile and smartphone penetration rates in the world, and about 60 per cent of candidates using the JobStreet.com platform access it with a mobile device.

“We saw the need to create a mobile app, because our recruitment landscape has been evolving at a rapid pace,” says Chook Yuh Yng, JobStreet.com’s Singapore and Malaysia country manager. “Mobile technology is changing and dominating the world we live in. Whenever employers process their applications or invite them for interviews, the app will notify candidates, so they will know the progress and [will] be able to respond to interview requests faster.”

What’s surprising, though, is not that JobStreet.com has developed a job app, but that a large number of companies in the region do not take the same approach to hiring and assessment.

“Having platforms that are mobile-enabled is really critical for candidate experience,” says Sue Campbell, Korn Ferry Futurestep’s managing director for Asia.

“But while mobile penetration is incredibly high, the effective use of mobile technology for recruitment remains perversely and strangely underutilised. You would be stunned at how many companies do not have their career site mobile-enabled in Asia. It’s a missed opportunity.”

Just 10 per cent of Southeast Asia’s largest companies have optimised their career sites for mobile, according to a white paper published by human resources provider PageUp. Even fewer companies offer candidates the ability to pre-populate application forms with information from their social media profiles or resumes.

This is particularly surprising given Asia’s passion for social media. One in three east Asian consumers is an active user of social media, according to a survey by Korn Ferry Futurestep, making them the most voracious users of social media in the world – by far. Just 9-10 per cent of Europeans and North Americans are active social media users, the survey says. Yet nearly 90 per cent of the population of China’s largest cities uses WeChat, according to eMarketer, and 70 per cent of Singapore’s professional labour force uses LinkedIn.


“Candidates expect a faster, slicker application process. Everyone talks about it being one-click and really simple so that someone can import their profile from their WeChat or LinkedIn account,” says Campbell, who notes that filling out a long application is not easy to do on mobile. In addition, applicants – particularly younger Asian millennials who have never faced a tight job market – “don’t feel the need to jump through that many hoops.” After all, while your company may have a long form, others may not.

Campbell warns against including the types of screenout questions that are common in job application forms in other parts of the world. If a company does use psychological or personality assessments, these tests should come late in the application process, “when candidates are more engaged and interested in joining the company.” She adds that these tests should be given in an applicant’s native language to help eliminate cultural biases.

Gen Y & Gen Z

Another factor that companies need to take into account when assessing and hiring applicants, regardless of geography, is the generation gap.

“There’s a general move by Millennials to do a lot more research about a company to find out what its employees have said about it,” explains Doug Edmonds, Randstad Sourceright’s APAC managing director.

Just as TripAdvisor has become the go-to app for travellers to find out what other people have to say about a hotel before making a booking, more and more job candidates are turning to apps like GlassDoor to see how current employees and other job seekers rate the company -and how the company responds to their comments.

Companies with popular brand names such as Singapore Airlines, P&G, and Shell get more of a pass when it comes to bad reviews in Asia, however, than their counterparts in Europe or North America.

A Digital World

So why aren’t more Asian companies using mobile technology – such as referral apps, video interviews and gamefication – to attract, hire and assess candidates?

“A lot of these technologies have been built outside Asia and haven’t filtered here yet,” observes Edmonds. “We see a bigger uptake in the U.S., even though the market here is more adaptable to these technologies.”

Companies in Asia need to adopt mobile technologies quickly, he says, or they risk missing the boat. “They’re faster, more effective and a more targeted method of getting candidates through your door and better at getting candidates that are more suited to your organisation. A lot of them are not expensive. None are that hard.”

“It’s no longer a gimmick. It’s an expectation that a company would have an easy-to-use app,” advises Edmonds. “Get your line managers used to using digital methods of sourcing, hiring, and assessment.”

Tags: global-spring-2016

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