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October 18, 2017 Mobile Jobseeking: Why aren't jobseekers applying on mobile? Tracy Godding, Head of UX Research

Mobile Jobseeking: Why aren't jobseekers applying on mobile?

The way in which we use the internet has changed dramatically in recent years. The modern consumer demands access to all sorts of information on any device, from any location, at any time.

This tendency has made mobile devices the go-to platform for much of the online information gathering activity that occurs. This is not new information and it’s not much of a surprise. Still, businesses must be able to adapt to these changes quickly or risk being left behind.

It could not be truer for Job Boards - where over 80% of millennials and 60% of 35-50-year-olds are already ‘frequently’ using mobile devices to search for jobs. It is expected that mobile traffic will continue to grow and surpass desktop in the near future. So, you can see why mobile is so important.

With such huge increases in the number of people using mobile devices to search for new job opportunities, some of you may be trying to understand why the number of mobile applications are not increasing at the same rate.

Focusing on the everyday psychology and behaviour of jobseekers, we used diary research to help us answer this very question. The two-week study looked in detail at the daily activity of live jobseekers. This allowed us to build a comprehensive picture of what a day in the life of a jobseeker looks like.

We found that mobile devices were used throughout the day but more so in the morning. Between 6-7am, jobseekers wake up, grab their phone and check their job alerts emails. The next serious interaction takes place on the commute to work between 7-9am. This is likely to involve more active searching on job sites, email checking and saving attractive jobs for later. We found that 30% of job searches happen during this period and each session lasts between 10 and 30 minutes.

During the working day, between 9am-5pm, jobseeking doesn’t stop. It mainly takes place on desktop devices, but mobile still plays a role during breaks and at lunchtime. It’s at these times jobseekers will go-to social media platforms to aid their search. We also know that around lunchtime and early afternoon is when most job applications are made. What’s clear is that throughout the working day, the user switches between desktop and mobile devices.

In the evening, we see jobseekers move back to their mobiles as they commute home and as the evening progresses, the job search becomes deeper and application preparation takes place.

We found that 100% of jobseekers save jobs for later. Of these, 70% copy and paste direct links into emails they send to themselves, 20% use a dedicated shortlisting tool, 20% use screenshots or notes on their mobiles, 10% bookmark the page or leave the tab open and 10% use an email-to self-tool.

Our respondents spent 60% of their search time and 50% of their research time on mobile. However, only 15% of their applications were completed on mobile.

What we are seeing is an application process that is spilt between the two devices. Searching happens mainly on mobile, where the jobseeker will find a job and save it for later. They then conduct deeper research into the role, which occurs on both mobile and desktop before the application is then prepared and completed on a desktop device.

This is all valuable insight into the life of a jobseeker, but we wanted to understand why people aren’t applying on their mobile. We considered the psychology of applying on mobile and found the following reasons why mobile traffic and applications don’t match up.

 Why aren't jobseekers applying on mobile?

  • Screens often considered “too small”

  • Difficulty in typing

  • Lack of trust – e.g. concerns about pressing the wrong buttons, concerns the application won’t look as good & concerns it may not even arrive with the employer

  • Difficulty in uploading CVs/Resumes and cover letters

  • Difficulty in cross referencing 

  • Limited data and battery life

  • Simply not the right time to apply. 


While these factors contribute to 70% of respondents stating they have never applied for a job on their mobile, 70% also said they would like to apply on their mobile. This represents a clear discrepancy between willingness to and ability to apply on mobile. It is therefore important that job boards work hard to break down the inconsistencies and simplify the user experience to encourage more mobile applications. 

Madgex job board software Global jobseeker survey