Ask the Headhunter/ General Management

Just How Dumb Do You Think Customers Are?


by Nick Corcodilos
Contributing Writer

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Article Highlights:

  • Two of the biggest online job boards blame your failure to get a job on employers that don’t use mobile job apps.
  • High-speed, automated online job applications have become the bane of America’s employment system.
  • It’s no easier to win a job if you use a mobile app than it is to win the lottery.

The odds that you’re going to hit a jackpot in the Mega Millions lottery are reported to be about 1 in 175,711,536. Now imagine your state’s lottery commission creates a really cool app so you can buy Mega Millions lottery tickets on your mobile device. Do you think mobile would raise your odds of winning?

How about this: Employers report they fill only about 4 percent to 5 percent of their open jobs through big job boards like CareerBuilder (see “Job Boards: Still Sucking Wind”). If you had a mobile app to apply for a job through CareerBuilder, then do you think your odds that a company will hire you would suck less?

CareerBuilder and SimplyHired, two of the biggest online job boards, are telling USA Today that new mobile apps are going to help you get hired (“Employers' old tech hurts hiring as job hunts go mobile”). And they blame your failure to get a job on employers that don’t use mobile job apps:

“Highly valued employees are turning to their phones to hunt for jobs, but employers’ outdated tech is throwing a wrench in the process,” says Hope Gurion, chief development officer of CareerBuilder, in the article.

Having deflected attention from the failure of Web-based job boards, to the promise of mobile job apps, the article lays on some statistics: “More critically, only about 2% of Fortune 500 companies tailor job applications for mobile users, CareerBuilder and Simply Hired say.”

I’m laughing because, even more critically (and embarrassingly), high-speed, automated online job applications (whether they’re on your computer or your phone) have become the bane of America’s employment system—no matter who operates them. PBS NewsHour recently reported on studies done by Wharton Business School professor Peter Cappelli on the effectiveness of “automated applicant tracking systems.” While CareerBuilder recommends mobile job apps, Cappelli says, “Get around the system. . .that's the best way around this conundrum of the applicant tracking systems and the software not being smart enough to process everybody correctly.”

USA Today explains that while employers are losing job applicants due to the failure to use mobile apps, the solution is here: “CareerBuilder, Simply Hired and Indeed offer employers mobile apps that let job seekers easily send a résumé or answer a few questions.”

What the article fails to disclose is that there’s no reason why a mobile app would increase the baseline odds—4 percent to 5 percent—that an employer would hire you through CareerBuilder.

The emphasis in the USA Today article is that online and mobile make getting a job easier: “It just lets people do job search anywhere, anytime,” says James Beriker, CEO of job-search engineSimply Hired, in the article.

But it’s no easier to win a job if you use a mobile app than it is to win the lottery. In fact, by making both tasks easier, more people are likely to buy lottery tickets and more people will apply for the job you want. Guess what? Your odds of winning the lottery or a job drop.

Just how dumb do they think people are?

The bigger lesson here? Before you make it easier for your customers to access your products and services through mobile devices and apps, please, first make sure your product works to begin with.

About Nick Corcodilos

Nick Corcodilos writes "Ask The Headhunter," a weekly blog on in which he shows you how to tackle the daunting obstacles that job hunters and managers face when trying to work together. From time to time, Corcodilos also will provide feature stories offering insights into various management career strategies. In addition, his newest books, Fearless Job Hunting, Keep Your Salary Under Wraps, How to Work with Headhunters and How Can I Change Careers?, are available as PDFs. Ask The Headhunter® is a registered trademark of Nick Corcodilos.