Job-hunters, Employers Must Embrace Mobile Solutions to Optimize Job Market

March 8, 2013

There are plenty of Americans seeking jobs these days, and plenty are creating new jobs to be sought as well. But somewhere in between, there's a disconnect, and a new USA Today report highlights one potential problem. Those who hesitate to embrace mobile solutions, both employers and potential employees, are missing opportunities on a daily basis.

Job-hunting Americans, especially young ones, are using their mobile devices to search listings more than ever before. Google reported that mobile job searches were up 17 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2012, meaning nearly one-third of users who use the search engine for jobs are doing so via their phones. Job sites CareerBuilder and Indeed reported that mobile searches had more than doubled in one year's time.

Despite this growing trend, employers have adjusted slowly. Only 29 percent of companies with over 500 employees have a website that's optimized for mobile devices, and only 2 percent of Fortune 500 companies say they tailor their job applications for mobile users. That means most people who do use their smartphones find themselves navigating countless links and unnecessary new windows, usually with tiny text and unwieldy graphics. Hope Gurion, chief development officer of CareerBuilder, said that about 40 percent of job seekers who don't use the company's mobile software end up abandoning the application process.

"Highly valued talent who [value] themselves or their time won't tolerate an inefficient application process," Gurion said.

The inefficiency in the job market is coming at a bad time as many young Americans are having trouble finding work. Generation Opportunity, an organization that advocates the Millennial generation, announced in its Millennial Jobs Report in January that Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were suffering an unemployment rate of 13.1 percent that month. Among African-Americans, that figure was startlingly higher – 22.1 percent.

It's not just workers struggling – employers are having trouble meeting needs too, especially in the tech sector. Microsoft said in September that thousands of openings for computer scientists and programmers were going unfilled, according to Information Week. The problem was twofold, Microsoft chief counsel Brad Smith said – there weren't enough educated and qualified Americans, and the immigration laws hindered the corporation's ability to hire outside the country.

"We are creating unfilled jobs," Smith said at a Brookings Institution forum. "We have a shortage."

The tech sector has plenty of jobs available, and the market is still working on ways to fill them. For now, streamlining that process is still an incomplete task.