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How will the launch of the 5G network impact the recruitment industry?

How will the advent of 5G impact the candidate experience in recruitment, and what opportunity will it create for those in the market for top talent?

March 20, 2020

An illustration of a 5G chip superimposed on a cityscape at night

Technology is continually changing the face of talent acquisition, and mobile recruitment is the latest trend to impact the way that recruiters engage with clients and candidates alike. While traditional recruitment methods are still utilised, the advent of smartphones, tablets and wearable tech is forcing the industry to adapt to mobile ways of working to avoid being left behind.

Here we discuss 5G: the latest advancement in mobile technology. We will also discuss how this new network could impact candidate experience and how it could create opportunity for recruitment.

What is 5G?

5G is the latest version of mobile network technology first hosted by EE on the 30th of May 2019. The main difference between 5G and its predecessor, 4G, is that 5G is a whole new service and boasts an operating speed 20 times faster than 4G, providing quick online connectivity and lower latency. This new era of speed is already creating an opportunity for a host of new mobile services and allows users to access the internet quickly and with fewer of the interruptions that can occur from browsing the internet on 4G or traditional wi-fi services.

What impact will 5G have on mobile phone usage?

Mobile technology is everywhere; we would be hard pushed to walk down a street filled with people and not find someone holding some sort of portable device in their hand. According to a report by Ofcom, adults in the UK check their smartphones on average once every 12 minutes. Back in 2014, the global number of mobile phones exceeded the population of the world for the first time; Cisco has since reported that mobile phone users are now growing twice as fast as the population itself.

From a demographic standpoint, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) say that 96% of 16-24 year olds access the internet ‘on the go’; and for the adult population as a whole, this figure sits at 74%, with 66% using mobile phones to do so. These statistics demonstrate the movement away from desktop computers and serve as a behavioural indicator for the way in which consumers are interacting with online data and—importantly—how often.

How might 5G impact the candidate experience in recruitment?

  • Speed to connect recruiter and candidate: The main benefit of 5G is its superfast speed. In recruitment, time is critical; candidates want to browse and apply for jobs quickly and easily, and uninterrupted communication is key to a slick service. With 5G and the subsequent development of online mobile apps, candidates can better navigate through real-time job applications and browse available jobs. If on an agency’s books already, they can track their time worked, manage invoices and payments or raise a query with their recruiter.
  • Anytime, anywhere access to jobs: With 5G, candidates can quickly and seamlessly browse jobs and other information ‘on the go’, and time and effort is reduced waiting for pages to load or content to buffer. Companies are becoming more confident and creative with their talent acquisition as a result of reliable internet networks. In Canada, McDonald's was recently the first brand to launch ‘Snapplications': a one-day virtual hiring event that allowed job seekers to instantly apply for jobs at McDonald's directly through the Snapchat app.
  • Trust and reliability: Research by Google has shown that if a site takes more than three seconds to load, the bounce rate goes up to 53%, meaning more than half the target audience could be missing relevant content. With 5G’s seamless internet browsing, improved latency and download experience increases the likelihood that they’ll stay on the page longer; perhaps to see an application through to the end or generally maintaining engagement with the content provided. This in turn can indirectly build trust with candidates.
  • Improved brand loyalty: While trusting a service can positively impact candidate experience, it can also strengthen a company’s brand by influencing users’ desire to engage with this brand regularly. This is important in the competitive recruitment market, since candidates typically want to work with one reliable and consistent recruitment partner and access relevant information quickly from their mobile devices.

How can companies benefit from 5G?

  • Mobile app creation: Many companies are creating their own in-house applications to better connect and have more meaningful interactions with candidates. With the benefits of 5G, it is likely that mobile devices’ adoption and usage rates will continue to increase over time, allowing developers to explore new platforms and create apps that will offer faster, real-time, personalised user experiences.
  • Online recruitment: There are now many platforms through which candidates can be found and targeted online—these range from LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter to customised recruitment apps, applicant tracking systems and traditional text and emails. In the future, 5G could enable virtual reality in interviews, with candidates meeting prospective employers or recruiters in virtual rooms using apps like Skype or FaceTime.
  • Mobile friendly websites could be rewarded: While mobile apps are the direction of travel for communication in recruitment, the end is not nigh for traditional desktop websites. In fact, according to HubSpot, Google introduced a change to its ranking algorithms in April 2015 that rewards mobile-friendly websites. At the time, the search engine giant estimated that around 50% of all internet searches were carried out on a mobile device and offered prime search positions to the sites that responded best to this user behaviour.
  • Tailored digital content and advertising: With more people on their phones than ever—and more likely to stay on them due to an uninterrupted 5G network—companies have opportunities to take marketing to a new level. Mobile phone trend analysis can allow companies to pinpoint peak times to publish content and browsing data tracked through cookies, and other algorithms can support the creation of tailored mail shots direct to mobile devices. With lower latency and faster download speeds, the ability to deliver content through video or virtual reality will also likely increase. E-privacy and other data laws continue to impact how companies’ market online, but the advent of 5G could make digital marketing even better, improving clickthrough rates and overall content engagement.
  • Mobile attraction strategies: With 90% of millennials now using mobile devices to consume information, companies have more opportunities to communicate with this demographic. As internet speeds and services develop, companies must ensure they explore how they utilise all avenues open, keeping them competitive in the war for talent.

The future of 5G

There’s no doubt that mobile phone usage is on the rise, and the benefits of 5G’s faster internet speeds could advance the recruitment industry by enabling more meaningful interactions between candidates and recruiters. However, it is important to remember that this technology is still relatively new in the market, and for individuals, the cost of buying a 5G device is relatively high. It will likely take time for true gains to be realised and to see further adoption across a wider geography. Companies that invest in technology now to capitalise on marketing opportunities that provide candidates with the user experience and content that 5G bandwidth allows will be more competitively positioned in the future.

Like with all new tech trends, there are some who are sceptical of the extent of the benefits. This includes Gear4Musics’, Head of Recruitment, Jack Fisher, who believes that the media furore around the concept is, essentially, “a lot of fuss over nothing” and that “tech is a great help, but [recruitment] is an industry built on dealing with people.” As with all technology, it is important to not neglect the value of human interaction. The success of 5G and subsequent growth of mobile recruitment will depend on how companies strike this fine balance.

In summary

Overall, this new network, and others after it, will only create more opportunities for companies to engage with candidates online. The future of consumer behaviour is trending towards mobile—with real-time interaction and ‘on the go’ internet browsing the most common method of data consumption. With 5G, the prospects could be endless in recruitment, and those who invest in technology now could be well poised for the future.