For many years now we’ve spoken in great lengths to our clients and job seekers alike about the promising potential that mobile brings to the world of recruitment and its ability to reach and engage prospective candidates anytime and anywhere. Through this time, we’ve gained some serious mobile mileage and have enabled major advancements in how company career sites render on mobile devices and the speed in which job seekers can apply for positions from these personal devices carried in their pockets. While we’re now living in an age in which recruiters are thinking mobile first in terms of career site design, I remain surprised at the often neglected little engine of mobile recruitment marketing – the use of QR codes to digitalize an otherwise static and undifferentiated job ad. At least still today, these 2D bar codes are what enables and accelerates the transportation from, for example, a bus wrap or billboard, to a more enriching and enlightening candidate experience.
The QR code, which stands for “Quick Response” is nothing new, dating back to its first use in 1994 when Toyota used them to track car parts in Japan, much like a UPS package is tracked throughout its delivery process today. In the past decade, we’ve seen consumer marketers use QR codes with greater frequency on storefronts, in-store displays and pretty much anywhere ink still meets paper and people. They’re used for many purposes, including relaying further product details, comparing features and pricing, and capturing new social media followers. Studies show that 19% of American consumers have scanned a QR code. And ScanLife, a leading QR code generator and developer of one of the most widely used QR readers, reveals that repeat scanners typically use its app at least three times monthly.
This being said, I’m no optimist when it comes to the longevity of QR codes themselves, as it’s surely only a matter of time (read: year or two) before better technology replace these funny looking bar codes that require a downloaded app to unlock their treasure. Whether it’s near field communication, augmented reality and advancements in image recognition technology, QR, as we know it, will likely soon be renamed ‘Quietly Replaced’. What isn’t going away however is the prospect of better activating the physical realm with mobile devices to enhance real world experiences with layers of deeper information and interactivity. And at least for the present day, the QR code is still the vehicle and motor of choice to enable this transformation.
The crux for talent acquisition and its recruitment leaders is not when or where to place QR codes (any offline traditional ad can benefit from one made easily visible), but rather how to overcome the genuine lack of engaging creative experiences job applicants typically encounter after they scan – once they’ve indicated that they’re craving for more. As well, ensuring shorter job descriptions and smarter details are designed for the tiny touch screen tools we all rely on as part of our daily lives.
Unless one is emailed or contacted directly through social media by a personal contact or recruiter, the job hunt process typically begins in the physical world. Perhaps by picking up a newspaper (yes, they still exist). Or maybe by walking past the construction site of a new office tower. This however doesn’t mean that the company’s road of information must end here. Technology has come too far to not allow recruitment marketers the ability to take flat pools of content and rethink how they might be distributed more acutely into specific contexts. Ones that provide much needed signs and signals for all those on a journey toward career advancement.
There are many lessons to be learned from successes in the consumer QR experience for how to enhance the job seeker’s quest for career or company change. The following ideas for how to prepare and improve the QR code experience for prospective candidates pre and post scan go beyond what we should already know, and should be tied to your overall branding goals and recruitment objectives. Of course, all scans should lead to a destination optimized for mobile devices. There should also be a clear call to action printed close to the QR code itself so prospective candidates know what’s in it for them by scanning. This is QR 101. But what we also need to consider for future job scanners, as we transport them towards a deeper inside look into the company and job, include:
1) Company Blog with Content Designed for Mobile – I was recently flipping through the pages of a men’s fashion magazine when I came across an ad for a fine men’s brand I’ve had my eye on lately. The ad included a QR code and by scanning it I was taken to a made for mobile site containing a carousel of feature stories on top with a drop-down menu that parsed the content into articles about company history, customer stories and community – heritage, style and people – the very same things that caught my attention in the print ad in the first place. The mobile site didn’t even try to push me into the m-commerce experience until the end of the menu. The blog is neatly sculpted for mobile use. It’s all about deep brand storytelling. And it works. I spent more time exploring the dimensions of this brand on my phone than I ever would in a minute video clip or a long set of product details. There is nothing inherently mobile about this. It’s just a mobile-friendly lens into a general site log. But it’s a wonderful piece of branded content that works.
While once desktop-centric career sites (light on user generated content and heavy on job descriptions), start getting converted into mobile friendly variants, there still remains a shortage of good creative and humanized experiences for job candidates after they view an ad – genuine extensions of employer brand and identify. Essentially, the essence of the employer and employee contract is rarely made for the (very) small screen. Yet, there is almost always an abundance of available content that recruiters have access to, which could be channeled in interesting new ways via mobile. It’s likely that many of these different pieces of content have already been poured into the container of corporate websites and blogs made accessible from a desktop. Employee testimonials, day in the life overviews, office photo tours, video messages from senior leadership, community investment initiatives, sustainability practices – all that’s missing is the mobile activation piece. It’s this component that enables a new distribution channel for such important feature content that is imperative to enticing today’s candidate to switch teams. Most QR scanning, like “Shazaming” music, actually happens from home – which is exactly the right time and place to share with the candidate stories about the people behind the company – the same people he or she may soon be working beside.
2) Job Mapping – 29% of smart phone shoppers who have used QR codes indicate that they scan codes to access store locations. More generally speaking, 85% of smart phone owners use mapping and navigational apps frequently. Since we resourcefully rely on our phones for directions, why not ensure job seekers can quickly obtain insight as to where the office or worksite is located? By showing precisely where the job is located using Google Maps for instance, we can also promote additional nearby attractions, such as gyms and restaurants, all which serve to promote a healthy work/life balance. If the work location is difficult to find, or if there are multiple ways of getting there quickly, calculating how long it will take the job seeker to get to work from home via foot, car or public transportation is surely one step closer to enabling the job seeker the ability to envision the daily routine of working at your organization.
I see this being especially valuable to retail companies with hundreds, if not thousands, of stores all with immense ongoing hiring needs. All it would take a prospective candidate to learn about the closest opportunities is the scan of a QR code and then be driven to a job map, which plots all opportunities available and closest to his or her town, city, or state.
3) Short Job Descriptions & Easy Job Apply – If your goal is to connect a mobile job seeker as quickly as possible with the job in need of being filled and enable a simple apply process, then you must first ensure that the job description is presented in a way that gets to the most important points right away. Consumer marketers learned a long time ago to break down product specs into a few important and simple keywords, which mobile shoppers can use to compare with competitors. If I scan a QR code with the expectation that I will learn right away how the job may compare with other opportunities available and if I should apply or not, then I should learn immediately if the job not only appeals to me but also if I’m qualified. Breaking down traditional job descriptions to just a few keywords is both an art and a science, but it must be done in the age of mobile. Start with the most important details, including skills needed, years of experience required, and education. You can always leave the option for the mobile user to read the full job description afterwards.
While for most new career opportunities it’s important that the job applicant takes the proper time to apply and craft a well targeted cover letter and update his or her resume accordingly, there are some tools available to help with capturing the candidate’s interest at first contact. This is especially valuable when trying to appeal to passive candidates we know are already qualified. As this first exposure to the company and career opportunity may likely occur from a mobile device, leveraging an “Apply with LinkedIn” button through your applicant tracking system is a great first step. More intuitive mobile apply options may also include importing documents from the cloud, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. As we eagerly wait for the ATS’s to get in the game and enable a succinct apply process designed for mobile users, there are still quite a few things in the interim we can accomplish to narrow the gap and frustration, which commonly exists when applying for any job from a smart phone.
4) Employer Reviews – A strategic use of QR codes in the consumer space is to show favorable product reviews by scanning the code in an ad. Over 40% of QR code consumer users report that they scan to read product reviews. If I’m already set on the type of product I want to buy and have a few different brands to consider at similar price points, then reading positive peer reviews, as well as stamps of approval by industry experts may be all that’s needed for me to seal the deal on a purchase. The same rings true in selecting where to work.
The web’s leading employer review today is Glassdoor. If you haven’t already looked up your company on Glassdoor to see what current and past employees are saying about your organization as a place to work, then you’re missing what may be a huge opportunity, or perhaps a warning signal that changes in your company are needed. If your company’s page on Glassdoor receives lots of positive reviews, then this is a great place to drive mobile traffic towards, especially if steering employer brand perception more favorably is a current goal.
5) Feedback – If mobile and digital recruitment is new to your organization as it still is for so many in recruitment today, then obtaining feedback as to how you recruit would be valuable in these early planning stages. Taking job seekers from a print ad to a mobile friendly survey which asks candidates how they feel about your recruitment advertising, the content on your website and the overall applicant experience helps in obtaining useful data straight from the horse’s month. It may then build the business case to further invest in your digital recruitment strategy and mobile presence. You’ll learn new things that you may have ignored and give the candidate a voice and sense of belonging even before they’re officially on the payroll.
Mobile adoption reached staggering levels in the past three years as nearly 60% of North Americans now own a smart phone. In the last year, QR scanning increased by 300% and ScanLife now reports over 7 million monthly scans. We’re clearly expressing our desire to learn more at first encounter and exposure of not just enticing products to buy, but also exciting career opportunities to pursue. And whether scans turn way to photo snaps or merely taking your phone out of your pocket to instantly connect with available digital content, it’s our duty as talent acquisition leaders and job advertisers to provide job seekers with a worthwhile reason to interact further with the company, while providing the smartest user experience possible. Those designed for mobile. And those crafted to convert our target talent audience into more informed and successful applicants.
While it only takes a few seconds to open a QR reader app, touch the screen and get accelerated to a digital careers portal, it’s the next 60 seconds which becomes most crucial as to whether you’ll maintain that candidate’s interest and soon gain that Quick (human capital) Reward for your company. We should all live in a world where a candidate scans into a QR code, and remarkably, a company shares a great story with digestible job details.