By now everybody who is interested in mobile has hopefully read David Armano’s post “The Future Isn’t About Mobile; It’s About Mobility“. In it he writes:
“It’s not about mobile as much as it is about understanding mobility. Mobility means information, convenience and social all served up on the go, across a variety of screen sizes and devices. Mobility is radically different from the stationary ‘desktop’ experience. In some cases, mobility is a ‘lean back’ experience like sitting on a commuter train watching a video. In other cases it can be “lean forward” – like shopping for a gift while you take your lunch break at the part. And in many cases, it’s ‘lean free’ when your body is in motion, or you’re standing in line scanning news headlines or photos while you want for your turn to be called.”
As part of a highly interesting qualitative research comparing some internet properties that we have conducted at Evenbase, mobility also made an appearance when looking at candidate behavior. Job seekers have three key pressures:
1. Doubt, uncertainty, lack of confidence
2. Time & effort
3. Staying on top of the search
So all in all, it boils down to the known components of relevancy and speed (convenience) overlaid with an ineffective emotional state.
When looking at a day, the research concludes that the majority of the jobseekers, be they passive or active, are concentrating their efforts at home in the evening. Let’s divide the day into three parts, before work, at work and after work and look at the different behaviours displayed by jobseekers in the UK & US:
Before work, mainly in the morning, is the most common time to check email alerts. Many rely solely on alerts to learn of opportunities – saves having to check the source repeatedly. Reviewing alerts often takes place on the move using mobile or tablet devices to bookmark interesting roles and positions for further research at a later time.
At work, it’s all about covert searching in downtime/lunch. Interestingly, mobile wasn’t mentioned, but LinkedIn is seen as a safe way to job search at work. Water cooler discussions can also inform the job search.
After work, this is the point when more in-depth job search is done at home in the evenings. It is also the most popular time with passive searchers who search in conjunction with recreation, such as watching TV. Passive searchers are less likely to have email alerts or feel compelled to look when they are otherwise busy.
So, depending on how you target, there is some “lean back”, “lean forward” and “lean free” mobility happening during the job search.
So when talking about mobile in the jobhunting context, as David Armano states, it really is about ‘mobility’ and not ‘delivery via a mobile device’. It’s a matter of looking at the user journey and working out how to minimise the frustrations of the individual while in their different job hunting mode.
For example, our study showed in-depth research and job seeking happens in the evening at home. Therefore a mobile offering does not necessarily need to include the option to upload and/or alter neither CV/resume nor the ability to write a covering letter.
We also know that individuals use their commute to check job alerts, which means, in order for a busy commuter to make full use of the alert, they tend to expect details of the jobs available within the email on the move. As internet connection might be patchy, the results need to contain enough information to allow the decision to skip or save without having to click through to a website.
Another alternative is to release an app that integrates well into job seekers’ daily behaviour, especially if users can view stored content without an internet connection. After all the commute is used to decide ‘is this job worth more consideration in the evening’?
But beware of local differences: In the UK there is a heavier use of mobile in job search than the US, possibly as communicating on public transport is more common. And as highlighted in my last blog post, mobile in many emerging countries is mainly about SMS. So whilst the underlying principles still stand, the interface may differ significantly.
This point brings me neatly to the delivery mechanism. Instead of talking about “mobile” I find it much more helpful to refer to “touch”. That way, we separate mobility and its part in the actual user behaviour, versus the delivery of our service via mobile devices and actually also hone in on a much bigger trend, the move away from mouse-clicks.
When designing and developing, let’s not ask “how does it work for mobile”, but “how does it work for an individual using a ‘touch’ device” (the best interface I have seen for a touch device is by CVgram.me – an Argentinian start up).
Or maybe (echoing Lee Shupp’s ‘path to singularity‘) we should already be starting to think about “gesture” – how would your service be delivered to individuals that interact with their device via gesture. Google Goggles anyone? Perhaps we could even go a step further and work out how to take “mind control” into consideration.
However we look at it, we will see new ideas and uses that are utterly different from those available through the internet in its current form. In assessing the likelihood these changes will be taken up, it is especially important to remember that successful adaption relies on acceptable change – and this will always be linked to current user behaviour (sometimes this edges forward slowly, sometimes it leaps).
For the jobseekers in our study, it will involve new ideas that allow them to feel confident in achieving their objectives and which make everything so much more convenient. At some point these new ideas will go from, as Jason Fried and David Heinemeier put it, “cool to useful”. At that point underlying behavioural principles meet with new technology developments to deliver a meaningful, even empowering service to the people. That’s what it’s all about.