Evaluating Technology Preferences Among Candidates During Job Search

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Technology is not only connecting businesses to other businesses today but also connecting talent and employers. The Tech Talent Lab 2017: State of Talent Acquisition Report found that 45 percent of HR leaders believe that candidate sourcing technology is the area which will see rapid investment. Human Resource professionals are consistently sticking to the notion that technology is changing recruitment from the core. In present times, technology is embedded in everything we do and is affecting all aspects of the hiring cycle. Candidates are using technology to search and apply for jobs. Employers are using technology to engage candidates, build talent pools, and interview prospects. Chatbots are conversing with candidates. Text messaging is replacing email. And, companies are increasingly looking to video technology to screen candidates. Technology is pervasive in every step of the recruitment process.

Yet, a question still prevails among employers around the globe. It is not widely known that how candidate preferences about technology can be leveraged by employers. Then, how can companies use technology to ensure a competitive advantage in today’s talent war?

To provide a better understanding of how employers can leverage candidate technology preferences and perceptions, ManpowerGroup Solutions Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider went to the source – Candidate – for a reliable answer. The HR consulting service in Calgary surveyed nearly 14,000 individuals in the workforce between the age of 18 and 65 across 19 influential countries across the globe in 2016. These surveyed candidates shared what matters to them most.

This report provides new insights into candidate technology preferences including global trends and country nuances. This report aims to identify and comprehend what candidates need, want, and expect from technology in the job search process:

Candidate Technology Preferences While Searching For Jobs

The survey results provided by ManpowerGroup, one of the world’s most reputable HR consulting firms, depicts the global trends and nuances of candidate technology preferences. The way candidates use apps, the way they want to interview, their preferences vary by country, age, and gender. Let’s look at different technologies and their preference level among candidates in detail:

The Preference and Use of Mobile Apps for Job Search

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More than half of the global candidates would like to use smartphone apps for job search and application. As per stats, 52 percent of global candidates like to use mobile apps to apply for positions from their smartphones. The rate of interest in doing this is also moving up.

In four of the five talent markets tracked over the past two years, (United States, Australia, Mexico and the United Kingdom), candidate preferences for applying to jobs via apps have increased significantly. In a single year, the number of candidates who expressed interest in applying to jobs via smartphone app rose approximately 30 percent in Mexico, 60 percent in the United States and 80 percent in the United Kingdom and Australia.

In addition to a job application, candidates’ usage of mobile apps during their job search has escalated as well. In each of the five markets surveyed during the past two years, usage of smartphone apps has doubled or tripled in every country.

The rise in candidate interest in and usage of smartphone apps for job search is driven by demand and supply. Research shows that 90 percent of consumers’ mobile time is spent in using apps, and this is true across countries, right from the United States to Mexico to China. Convenience is also a driving factor because the smartphone liberates the job search experience by empowering candidates to search from a café, bus, or even a mountaintop. Additionally, job boards are also increasingly expanding their offerings with apps. Indeed, Monster.com, and LinkedIn, among others, have apps that help candidates search, apply or stay connected to previous job searches.

However, the App Gap Persists

Although mobile apps are a trending preference for job search, there still prevails a gap between wanting and using the applications. People show interest in mobile app use, but far fewer are actually using them. Candidates’ interest in using apps varies significantly by country.

Costa Rica (76%), Peru (74%), Mexico (71%) Panama (71%) India (70%) and Columbia (70%) lead the way with the largest number of candidates wanting to apply for jobs via smartphone apps. At the other end of the spectrum, Japan (23%) and Germany (29%) have the fewest number of candidates who are interested in apps. The gap between interest and use can be attributed to various factors including – generational differences and delay by employers in focusing on smartphones as a primary platform for interactions.

Millennials Show Interest in Apps for Job Search

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It is not surprising that the group showing great interest in searching and applying for jobs via apps is Millennials, i.e., age group of 18-34. 64 percent of Millennials are interested in applying for jobs via smartphone apps. These candidates also display a level of independence. Candidates who want to use apps are more likely to be willing to move to a new city for a position (30 percent or 31 percent country vs. global average). Those who prefer apps are also more likely to find an opportunity for advancement as a motivator for job change. Candidates who prefer apps also use technology platforms to source credible information about the brand – 15 percent rely on employer review sites and social networks.

Use of Apps Means More Applications

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App preference and usage among candidates is also positively correlated with a higher number of job applications overall. The number of candidates who applied via an app was significantly higher than the average. The increase in the number of jobs applied for may be facilitated by the ease of applying with the app itself. Some apps allow a user to enter his or her resume information only once and then apply the information to various job applications. This approach, popularized through common college application technology in the U.S., appeals to Millennials who are used to casting a wide net for new opportunities.

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Video Interview Format – Women Found To Be Less Comfortable

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Nearly 58% of the women globally are uncomfortable with video interview formats, like Skype, or providing a video introduction to their professional experience. In contrast to this, more than half of men (56 percent) preferred conducting an interview via video conference technologies, outpacing in-person interviews.

According to a 2013 Yale University Study, unconscious bias may be the culprit behind discomfort in females to embrace video interview technologies. The study found that in identical scripted video interviews of male and female candidates, women were more likely to be perceived as “aggressive” whereas men were perceived as “confident.” Unconscious gender bias may have resulted in the female candidates being more aggressive, less likable and less likely to be hired

Preference for video technologies in interviews also positively correlates with work experience. Experienced workers and managers will more likely prefer this format as opposed to their young counterparts. Preference for video technologies is also correlated with candidates who prefer contract or project work. These individuals interview for positions on a regular basis.

Video Conference Interview – Country-Wise Preference

India leads the way with more than twice as many candidates preferring video interviews to the global average (17 percent versus 8 percent). Latin American job-seekers also show a significant preference for this technology in interviews. A possible hypothesis for embracing of video interviews in these countries is the presence of global companies, especially in Latin America. Geography and infrastructure also play an important role in the use of video interviewing technologies. While countries like China, Australia, and the United States with large footprints could significantly benefit from video, smaller countries, or countries with highly concentrated urban populations, such as Japan, may find it less useful. However, do note that in some markets, a high-touch approach to interviewing is still valued.

Email Communications

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42 percent of global candidates agree that automated messages about positions that do not seem to target them undermine an employer’s credibility. Employers should take note that not all communication is productive. In Peru and India, 50 percent of respondents believe inauthentic automated messages damage an employer’s reputation. Customization and targeted communication is the key to attract and engage talent.

Technology and Passive Candidates

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Candidate technology preferences inversely correlate with passive candidates or those who applied for two or fewer jobs in six months tenure. Only 42 percent of passive candidates would prefer using apps to search for and apply for jobs. Only 8 percent use apps and only 7 percent prefer video conference interviews. Contrast this with technology preference of continuous candidates, which is greater.  Continuous candidates are those who self-identify as “always looking for the next job opportunity” and are the de facto early adopters of job search technologies.

When it comes to recruiting messages from potential employers, the division becomes more obvious. Only 30 percent of passive candidates are interested in receiving weekly outreach from potential employers. Hence, technology use in engaging passive candidates must be carefully considered.


Candidates’ technology preferences are changing rapidly. Technology also empowers employers to display a positive brand image and attract the right talent. Those companies that proactively respond to candidates’ technological preferences will win the war for talent.

To devise suitable recruitment strategies in relation to candidate technology preference in your country or industry, get in touch with HR consulting experts at Manpower today.

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