Talking Mobile; an Interview with Arie Ball

Arie Ball is VP of Talent Acquisition at Sodexo. You can find her on Twitter @Arie_Ball.

Why did you decided to invest in a “mobile recruiting strategy”

Right now, mobile is hot. With a majority of adults using mobile devices to do everything from connect with friends and family through texting and social media to checking their bank accounts to shopping and managing their travel … mobile is the place to be right now for recruiting if you’re not there already.

Two years ago, we observed trends that our world was becoming increasingly mobile. As a result, we developed a mobile component to our overall strategy. We optimized our career site and other career properties for mobile. Today, it’s predicted that more than 50% of all web traffic will be via a mobile device possibly by the end of this year. And, more than 40% of all social media traffic is generated via mobile devices, including 50% of all Facebook traffic.

With the growing use of mobile, we decided to add a mobile app to our mobile strategy to allow candidates the ability to apply for jobs directly through the Sodexo Jobs app on their mobile device. We’re really excited about the Sodexo Jobs app because it makes it possible for candidates to connect with us and apply for our jobs whenever and wherever they are.

Through the Sodexo Jobs app, users can learn about job opportunities, interact with our recruiters, immerse themselves in our culture, and search and apply for jobs … all from their smartphone, anywhere, anytime. The Sodexo Jobs app is not only helpful for external candidates to learn more about Sodexo and apply for our jobs, but our employees now have a tool to help them explore, build and grow their careers within Sodexo. In the first two months, we have had more than 2,700 downloads and five hires from the app. It’s an exciting time to be on the cutting edge of these technologies.

What were your key measurements for success?

Success with Sodexo’s mobile strategy is an evolving measurement. In relation to the mobile website, we have tracked typical web analytics such as visits, page view and page views or time per visit. We also look at the proportion of overall career site and talent community traffic that comes via mobile device and the primary operating systems that are used.

All of that that data helped validate that the overall growing mobile traffic trend also applied to job seeker traffic and specifically Sodexo job seeker traffic. As mobile traffic increases, it would follow that our candidates would want to have the same experience and options on their mobile device as they did on their laptop – namely, to apply for jobs. It also helped identify the iPad, iPhone and Android operating systems as the priority when developing our apps and formatting our mobile website.

The launch of the Sodexo Jobs app and the mobile portals are relatively young in their lifespan, so our tracking of key measures is still evolving. However, over time we will collect data regarding the number of downloads, the operating systems, the number of talent community members, applicants, qualified applicants and hires that are generated. We will also look to identify whether internal candidates are using these tools at a similar rate to external candidates.

Early data from a candidate feedback survey for all 2010 hires showed that 47% of Sodexo’s new hires used one or more of our social sites to search jobs and prepare for interviews. We also see that our mobile optimized Career Center receives about 5,000 visitors per month. Now, with the Sodexo Jobs app garnering more than 2,700 downloads in two short months – it seems that moving into mobile is the right direction for Sodexo and our candidates.

What three considerations would you recommend to anyone thinking about investing in a mobile recruiting strategy?

1) Mobile should be one element of your overall strategy, not your only strategy. And, your mobile strategy should mirror your PC online experience. For example, our email communications, website, job search and now application process all have parallel processes on mobile and PC platforms.

2) Clearly define your goals mobile – do you want to provide a portal to your online/social media properties? Do you want to provide an app with job search capabilities? What about the ability for candidates to apply for jobs directly through the app? And, as you think about your goals, consider the marketing efforts you plan to employ. Our opinion is that you should develop a mobile optimized website before you engage text campaigns, QR codes or even mobile apps. Your organization can be better served through the mobile site first, which can later serve as a foundation for all other mobile campaigns and services.

3) Remember that everything should be focused on providing the best candidate experience possible. Whatever strategy that you adopt, it should be one that enhances the candidate experience. So, if a mobile app is developed, it should be something that is easy to use and gives the candidate access to information, individuals and/or jobs that would be of interest to them.

What is the one successful surprise you have had?

Launching this app is a natural progression as our lives become increasingly mobile – even in the recruitment process. Through the development and launch of the Sodexo Jobs app, we want to make it as easy as possible for all of our candidates – both external candidates and internal employees – to help manage their careers and job search strategy.

In just two short months since we launched the app, we’ve already had five hires that can be traced back to application submitted from the mobile app. At Sodexo, providing internal advancement opportunities is important to us and our employees. So, it’s an amazing success to see that the mobile app is not only being used, but that our employees are finding their next career move through the app.

Another exciting thing to note about our employees’ use of the Sodexo Jobs app, is that we were able to develop the ability for them to sign-on to the app using the “single sign-on” concept. With their network login credentials, employees have the ability to search jobs only available to them – about 30% more than the public. The ability to use this single sign-on technology is a huge win for us, as we have not been able to implement this process for any other initiative outside of the Career Center. We are absolutely thrilled that it was successful for our mobile strategy.

Where there any specific design/functional specifications that had to be in the app.

• The candidate needed to be able to apply to the job of their choice.

• The apps had to be optimized for iOS and Android which were the top two operating systems generating mobile website traffic.

• The apps had to provide an integrated candidate experience similar to the many websites that work together via PC.

• We were very intent on providing the single sign-on and job search functionality to our internal and Reconnexions candidates (alumni candidates).

What was the one thing you got wrong/underestimated?

By far, the thing we did not foresee being such a challenge was the single sign-on for current employees. The challenge is the result of multiple redirects that need to direct the user to a mobile or PC site and still carry their username/password credentials along in the process. That was very challenging and took quite some time to accomplish.

Also, the other thing that companies should consider when designing an app that includes apply functionality is that much of the work needs to be accomplished in the applicant tracking system vs. the application itself. We did not get that “wrong” per se but we recognized early on that our applicant tracking system would really be a critical factor in the success or failure of that process.

The Sodexo  jobs  app was built by AllTheTopBananas

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