Without question, we are living in an increasingly mobile world, where smartphones are being used for more and more personal and business activities, including job seeking. And while many industry pundits tout the rise of mobile candidate applications, a closer look at recent survey results from Pew Research Center reveals otherwise. Yes, mobile job seeking is growing, but still:

  • Only 26% of American adult job seekers have used their smartphones to browse or research job listings; and
  • Only 14% have used their smartphones to fill out an online job application.

This jives with eQuest’s data collected over the same two-year period as Pew Research Center’s survey. Studying more than 10 million unique eQuest-posted jobs in more than 180 countries, here’s what we’ve found:

  • 31% of adult job seekers are reading jobs on mobile devices;
  • 14% are responding to job postings via their mobile devices; and
  • Only 9% are filling out job applications on their mobile devices.

In line with Pew Research Center, we discovered more mobile activity with the simpler tasks of searching and browsing job ads, but considerably less activity with the more complex and challenging tasks of responding and applying to jobs.

So, while smartphones continue to dominate aspects of our daily lives, the level of adoption for mobile job applications is significantly lower than other tasks. The data tells us such, although some in the industry continue to ignore it or want to believe differently.

Among the other consistent findings between Pew Research Center and eQuest are:

  • Americans with relatively low levels of education tend to rely more heavily on their mobile devices for overall online access. “Smartphone job seekers who have not attended college are substantially more likely to have used their phone for more advanced tasks, such as filling out an online job application or creating a resume or cover letter,” according to Pew Research Center. This impacts which job categories the majority of online job search is targeting.

Indeed, eQuest’s data shows that the top 20 jobs with mobile activity are grouped in four categories: administrative, call center, drivers, and laborers.

  • Candidates find that the majority of job seeking-related tasks on mobile devices are challenging. Says Pew Research Center, “Some 47% of smartphone job seekers have had problems accessing job-related content because it wasn’t displaying properly on their phone, and an identical 47% have had problems reading the text in a job posting because it was not designed for a mobile device.” Furthermore, “Some 38% of smartphone job seekers have had problems entering a large amount of text on their smartphone while searching for a job, while 37% have had problems submitting the files or other supporting documents needed to apply for a job.”

eQuest’s data bears this out, as well, showing the difference between viewing activity and conversion (clicking and applying) rates: Only 36% of those who viewed job postings on their mobile devices decided to “click,” and less than 1% those who clicked actually submitted their resume. 99% of mobile candidates did not apply!

In summary, despite some opinion, the world has not made a wholesale shift to mobile job seeking activities. Because of the focus on certain job types and difficulty in completing tasks, employers should take a close look at their mobile audience and what job categories, titles, and functions they are responding to. The level of “pain” and missed opportunities in not receiving those resumes should drive whether or not they do something different.