Banks often struggle to attract the right talent for hourly paid positions. But imagine trying to hire call center agents in a region where 96.5% of the local workforce is employed.
That was the reality for last year for the Fargo, N.D., office of Bank of the West. Damian Holznagel, the San Francisco bank's regional manager in Fargo, said the institution was struggling to get applicants for its call center roles, let alone the best fits.
"We thought we were doing everything," he said.
But then he heard of Jobaline, a mobile-first marketplace and matching platform for hourly jobs that distributes want ads on behalf of its customers. So the bank, which had openings for call center agents, subscribed to the service in late October. As of December, it began receiving about eight applicants a day instead of a mere one prior to using the service.
The bank's recruitment effort is part of a trend of help-wanted ads becoming mobile-friendly as smartphone-addicted millennials continue to enter the workforce and unfamiliar job titles like "video teller" emerge. Some firms, like Bank of the West, are making the application process easier to start on smartphones. Others, like Wells Fargo and BBVA Compass, are promoting career opportunities on social media sites like YouTube.
Among the reasons Holznagel believes Jobaline helped bring in more applicants is the way the startup made applying for the job easier on smartphones.
"On a mobile device, nobody wants to scroll through three pages," said Holznagel.
This matters especially for individuals who use smartphones as their only way to connect to the Internet.
Holznagel said its application could have taken someone to fill out an hour before at a computer, while the new truncated mobile application only takes minutes.
To be sure, the applicant will still have to fill out the longer application online. Promising mobile applicants receive an automated call from Jobaline asking them to provide the potential employer with more information.
Jim Edrington, an executive vice president who runs the professional development group at the American Bankers Association, said the video ads point to how institutions are getting savvier in the ways they recruit millennials an audience known for consuming content on YouTube. Edrington views the initiatives as a way to "show they are hip and have career opportunities and could be the employer of choice."
The courting approach is not common in banking but it is a technique used by some of the best-loved brands like Zappos.
One bank trying its hand at a job application makeover is North Shore Bank. The Brookfield, Wis., institution produced a video in January about its video teller position a role that is atypical for the area and harder to fill.
"It's harder to recruit people when something is very new to them," said Molly Schissler, vice president of human resources at North Shore.
"They don't know what to expect."
So the video is designed to help show a day in the life as well as to provide a sense of what the bank believes in. The content, of course, can be shared on any social media site and reach a younger audience.
"YouTube videos are everywhere," Schissler said. "Everybody likes to see things."
And more individuals are watching videos on smartphones and tablets. Daily mobile video watching spiked to 33 minutes in 2014, up from eight minutes in 2012, according to eMarketer.
In filming the job description, North Shore had an advantage most other institutions would not.
"I am lucky because my husband is a video editor," Schissler said. "I said, "Hey, hon what would you think about doing this for free?' "
Typically, she says the project would cost about $5,000 or $6,000. Even though it's not a low-cost option, Schissler says the math can more than work out if the investment helps fill positions quicker. She believes video will continue to enhance the job seeker's experience by providing more insight about a job or employer than a typical description or company overview. She hopes to expand the newer job ad approach to illustrate other positions like call center agents.
Bank of the West, which does not yet do video ads, believes that showing candidates the bank role also helps with another battle: retention.
In addition to using Jobaline, the bank in North Dakota enhanced its employee benefits including carving out monthly bonuses and making work from a home a possibility in addition to investing more time in illustrating the role to potential candidates. Now job prospects will spend time in the call center to get a better sense of what their work life would look like.
"That's helped us give people a view of the day in the life of a contact center," Holznagel said.