Found in Translation: Job Applications Go Mobile, Multilingual

By Andrea Park

Jul. 14, 2014

Imagine going to apply for a job for which you’re well-qualified, and being forced to make your way through an impossibly difficult obstacle course just to complete the application. It sounds like an outrageous hypothetical situation, but millions of job-seeking Americans find themselves in this position every day.

In the United States, almost 60 percent of all workers are paid hourly wages, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these nearly 76 million employees, almost 20 percent are Hispanic or Latino, many of whom speak fluent Spanish. And while low-wage positions, especially in the hospitality and retail industries, often value bilingual employees, their application and hiring process is largely inaccessible to these candidates.

Not only are traditional job-posting websites usually only available in English, but also they’re typically not optimized for mobile access. This is a huge problem, and one that alienates a significant portion of the target population of low-wage jobs.

According to Jobaline CEO Luis Salazar, only 15 percent of corporate employment websites and job boards are mobile-accessible.

“Of these low-wage workers who are accessing the Internet, more than 70 percent do so through a mobile device,” Salazar said.

This “critical divide” created by the absence of mobile-friendly job-hunt technology led Salazar to co-found Jobaline, an online jobs marketplace that’s both multilingual and easily accessible by smartphone or tablet.

Jobaline essentially streamlines the entire pre-screening process of the job search, from the online application to an automated phone interview, and uses advanced, unbiased algorithms to match only the most qualified candidates with each position. And each step of the way “can handle a duality of languages at both the employer and employee level,” Salazar said.

For example, the automated interview allows an English-speaking employer to ensure a candidate does indeed have a decent grasp of both English and Spanish.

“The system will ask you in Spanish to please explain in English what experience you have performing that job,” Salazar said. “If the recruiter hears a coherent answer in English, it shows that the candidate can understand and speak both languages.”

The technology can thus be used with any language, and even has speech-to-text capabilities for quicker review of applications.

The Hotel Group, which operates 25 Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, DoubleTree, and Hiltonhotels in 10 states, has successfully used Jobaline to fill a “real void” in terms of qualified hourly employees, said Lynn Demateo, the group’s special projects and recruiting manager.

In the past, Demateo said, paper applications were available in Spanish, but having to go to the hotel to ask for it stopped many potential candidates from applying.

“Jobaline allows them to do it in the comfort of their own surroundings, getting assistance if they need it,” Demateo said. “It starts the dialogue in a more comfortable scenario.”

Other companies also offer more accessible job-search resources: job website Indeed has a smartphone- and tablet-optimized application, as does CareerBuilder, which allows candidates to apply to jobs “with just two taps of your finger,” according to its website.

And non-English-speaking applicants can turn to the multilingual job boards at, for example, the Hispanic/Latino Professionals Association and LATCareers. Monster also features a multitude of country-specific job boards through which international job applicants can search for U.S. jobs in their mother language.

Employers, take note: Software like this is the future of applying and hiring. By enhancing the bilingual and mobile-accessible capabilities of the job-application process, Jobaline and other similar technologies have simplified the job hunt for all involved.

“We saw the opportunity to use technology to serve a segment of the population in this country that is badly underserved,” Salazar said. “We’re fixing the inefficiencies in low-wage America.”

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