A seminar held last week in London, promoted the advantages of adopting a ‘mobile first’ digital strategy when recruiting graduates.

The seminar featured sessions on the rapid development of the UK’s mobile landscape, the growing significance of mobile in media consumption, and the practical considerations involved in developing a ‘mobile first’ graduate recruitment strategy.

The first speaker was Hesham Al-Jehani, product manager mobile (Europe) at comScore. His comprehensive overview of the UK’s mobile landscape included a raft of key statistics, such as the fact that smartphones now account for a majority share of the UK mobile market (51%), with almost 90% of smartphone owners using their devices to access mobile media and the numbers downloading apps up by 71% year on year.

Some 10% of mobile owners also own a tablet computer, and together tablets and smartphones now account for around 8% of all the UK’s internet traffic. More pertinently, mobile access to jobsites is up by 48% year on year (with the usual established brands ranking highest, as for PC access). And the average time spent on jobsites via mobile is just under three minutes (around half the figure for PC access).

Steve Wing, who’s just taken on the new title of business director, mobile at Guardian News and Media, outlined some of the key factors involved in achieving the Guardian’s strategic ambition of becoming a ‘digital first’ business. He noted that whereas mobile was once seen as peripheral, it was now absolutely central to this strategy, with the rapid transformation in consumers’ expectations “literally off the scale”.

The aim is now to deliver the Guardian any way that clients want it, providing a richer, faster and deeper user experience whether consumed via smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. The m.guardian site already has around nine million unique users, and accounts for between 15 and 20% of the Guardian’s digital traffic. In summing up, Steve stressed that the mobile channel was simply too large and important to ignore. And given that it’s largely consumers’ rapidly changing behaviour which is generating new commercial opportunities, it’s always essential to put the audience first when making any key decisions.

Finally, David Spector – head of mobile at aia Worldwide – insisted that today’s recruitment strategies had to start, rather than end, with mobile. His run-through of practical considerations included a strong plug for responsive web design, which cleverly recognises the user context to shift content around according to the device’s screen size. Only requiring a single content management system, this currently provides an effective way of future-proofing website design.

David also explained how the use of HTML5 as a replacement for Flash could enable the incorporation of rich mobile experiences, and recommended the leveraging of existing Google features (such as maps) to help add value for users. In conclusion, he pointed out that organisations without mobile-optimised sites were missing out significantly, since “mobile puts your brand in someone’s pocket”. He also encouraged employers to get their own employees to generate content for their careers sites.