Objective: Hire top talent

  @FortuneMagazine January 23, 2014: 9:16 AM ET
FIV03 mobile job

In late 2012 executives at PepsiCo (PEP, Fortune 500) discovered something surprising: Ninety percent of the people who clicked through job-related emails from the company did so on their mobile phones. The numbers stunned the human resources department of the $65.4 billion in sales snack and beverage company, which receives 45,000 job applications each month for positions as diverse as truck driver and finance manager. Instead of job hunting from home, people were doing so while standing in line at a restaurant or even sitting on a couch watching the game. "It was an eye opener," says Chris Hoyt, PepsiCo's director of global talent engagement.

PepsiCo realized it needed to reach people from their pockets. By March the company will roll out a new career site that lets people hunt for jobs and, for the first time, apply for them using their mobile phones.

The sudden, widespread use of mobile devices for job hunting has blindsided most HR executives. About 82% of the 1,000 job seekers surveyed last fall by career site Glassdoor.com said they expected to use their phones to look for jobs in the next 12 months. Yet only 20% of companies optimized their career sites for mobile traffic, according to a 2013 LinkedIn (LNKD) survey of 3,379 corporate recruiters. "People realize that mobile is huge, but few are doing something about it," says LinkedIn spokesman Joe Roualdes.

HR executives at PepsiCo first noticed the uptick in mobile visits to the company's career site three years ago. They built a mobile app called Possibilities to let people hunt for jobs, watch videos on company culture, and interact on Twitter with HR managers. As mobile adoption grew, executives realized that the app wouldn't be enough. So they built a mobile-friendly career site that was easier to navigate for people using smaller screens.

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Last year, things really shifted. Hoyt says he saw an 800% increase in job applications that were started on phones. "They wanted, even expected, to be able to research jobs and apply on the go," Hoyt says. But the technology wasn't there yet. Filling out applications on a tiny screen was too cumbersome, and storing a résumé on your phone wasn't always possible. HR executives had to hope that candidates would start the process on their phones and finish it later on their desktop computers.

That's no longer the case. New software platforms such as Three Sparks, Jibe, and iMomentous allow big companies to seamlessly connect internal software systems that sort résumés and screen candidates. LinkedIn now offers several mobile services to put relevant jobs in front of job seekers on the go and make mobile job applications easier. And Monster.com (MWW) introduced mobile recruiting apps and services built specifically for employers.

At PepsiCo, it's all about finding the best potential hires -- wherever they may be. "We're at a point where people want things in the palm of their hand, easy to get to, and on demand," Hoyt says. In 2014 that includes a career.

This story is from the February 3, 2014 issue of Fortune. To top of page

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