HR Tech: It’s Not Really About Mobile (Even Though It Is) #mobilerecruit

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HR Tech: It’s Not Really About Mobile (Even Though It Is)

Are you missing the boat on mobile? Will your desktop-only technologies sink all of the good you’re trying to accomplish with your HR Tech? Are you drowning in archaic, landlocked software, yet scared you’ll never keep your head above water in the endless quest for the right mobile technology to capture every mobile candidate and captivate every mobile employee?

…What if I told you that it’s NOT about mobile at all (even though it is)?

Let me qualify:

In a world where there are more mobile devices than people and acronyms like “BYOD”* become the center of thoughtfully crafted HR policy and even well meaning specialized conferences, mobile matters.  A LOT.  Whether you want candidates registering for your ATS or employees interacting with your LMS, you need to have implemented a way for those people to do so from a mobile device. With so many people expecting and even assuming that they’ll be able to perform the same functions as well or better than they may on a full computer, mobile really IS that important.

However, in between the scaremongering blog posts and “Why You Need Mobile” white papers, I believe there’s a piece of the conversation that gets glossed over:

It’s really about User Experience.

And who is your “user”? Candidates, employees and alumni alike.

Mobile is a medium of delivery, not a strategy or a feature. Experience is the result of interacting with your brand, systems, or products via that medium.

And just because your ATS has a mobile app or your employee training videos can be watched on an iPhone doesn’t meant that those experiences are GOOD.

This is what I call the “default mobile strategy:” taking the same features and capabilities you already have on another medium (say, your “website”) and simply cramming them into the tiny little screen for the sake of saying “we have a mobile app too.”

Well, guess what? When you do it that way, user experience suffers, and your users leave.

The second approach is to create a mobile app quickly or making your existing system “mobile friendly” by throwing “responsive design” on it.  Don’t know what responsive design is? Good!  You don’t need to.  Just making your site cram “better” into the tiny mobile app is as chopping the legs of your furniture to make it fit a smaller house.

Guess what… user experience suffers, and your users leave. (Didn’t I just say that?)

In these gold rush days of mobile design, it’s easy for a company to get caught up in the thought processes that, as long as you have a mobile app or a responsive website, the rest will sort itself out from there. But we’ve all probably experienced that frustrating moment when you realize that a mobile site only lets you get so far with your task, a link is irreparably broken, or the design, though aesthetically pleasing, is actually keeping you from getting things done. What makes you think that your mobile experience, just because it says “mobile” on it, is any better?

Consider where people use their mobile phones: in bed, the train, waiting for their dates to come back from the restroom or for people to show up to a meeting, while driving  (but you don’t do that, do you?), etc. We must think about what the user is trying to accomplish while being mobile first: what problem is the user trying to solve, and how will they interact with the app while on the go?

The point of investing in “mobile” is not to show that your company can keep up with whatever trends the kids are hashtagging these days. The point is not to just piggyback on whatever the successful early adopters are doing because it seems like a pretty good “best practice.” The point is not to simply have the technology to avoid falling victim to the doom-and-gloom of a clickbait headline.

The point is to make the user’s experience better. To provide them with the tools they need to accomplish the tasks they set out to accomplish. To preempt frustration and leave your users with a good impression of your brand. To help them connect with you on their devices, no matter where they are or how they choose to connect. To do all of the above seamlessly—without having to think about the fact that they’re using a mobile device at all.

So if you’re going to do your candidates and employees the favor of adopting mobile technology into your processes, remember that not all mobile experiences are created equal, and just because you have a mobile experience does not automatically make that experience good.

So here is my mantra as a product designer, and I encourage you to repeat it to yourself often: Begin with the end user in mind. Solve a problem for them (not for you or your strategy).

As a first step toward seeing the world from your users’ perspective, why not take your own mobile technology out for a spin? Try applying for a job with a small smartphone or accessing a learning module in your onboarding program from a tablet. Give a video interview, try to upload a resume from the cloud, fill out a form, or take a test. You may discover that you’re not accomplishing the end goal of your mobile experience (ease of use, lack of friction, happy users) just because you’re mobile.

Thinking like a user and not like a buyer will help you not only pick technology—but also the RIGHT technology. And when you approach your technology with the user in mind, it’s only then that mobile really matters.  Otherwise, it’s just a waste of your precious time.

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Rob Garcia

Rob Garcia is a Silicon Valley product executive who has repeatedly embraced innovative technologies to create delightful and engaging products that gain rapid adoption and disrupt industries. Recently, Rob has dived into the HR technology space with several startups aiming at defining "the future of HR" with social talent engagement platforms and next-gen outplacement. Rob is currently the VP of Product at You can connect with Rob on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or blog.

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