With the rapid acceleration of mobile internet usage and an understanding of how people look for jobs, Ashley Steinhausen created Dazhi. Dazhi is a mobile recruiting platform for the mainland China and Hong Kong markets. I interviewed Ashley to find out how the recruiting industry is intersecting with the rise of mobile.

One of the founders of Zhaopin.com

Ashley started out his career in the recruitment industry in the UK and moved to Hong Kong in 1994. In 1995, he moved to Shanghai to run operations for Alliance Executive Search, a head hunting firm with Mark Baldwin and Robert Zhang. After a while, their multi-national clients wanted them to help recruit lower level positions. Mark then conceptualized and started Zhaopin.com with a few partners. Ashley left Zhaopin in 2001 to join a job board in Japan before returning to Shanghai where he worked on a wide variety of projects, before creating Dazhi in 2009.

Backing mobile to overtake web based job boards in the future

Dazhi is a mobile job advertising and candidate processing platform run through a mobile website, not to be confused with an application that you download. Dazhi builds customized recruitment sites for their clients to be able to attract, screen and process applicants. The primary use case is for companies making bulk hires like Ping An, Huawei or McDonald’s rather than being targeted at high level management staff. To take a look at what it looks like, with your mobile phone, you can check out quest.dazhi.mobi or walmart.dazhi.mobi.

Ashley believes that “pc based internet will decline and mobile based recruitment will come to the fore.” Just as web based internet job boards acted initially as a supplement and gradually displaced newspaper job ads, Dazhi is backing the rise of mobile to first supplement pc web based job boards then over take them.

Ashley says that mobile gives you access to a candidate pool that you can’t get on the web because in China, 65-70% of mobile users access the internet and 40% of those use it as their primary method to go online.

The ‘McDonald’s’ of mobile recruitment

Companies like jobsdb, 51job or even Zhaopin have simply transferred their web based job content onto a mobile site and disregarded how a user interacts and experiences a mobile phone. Dazhi stringently focuses on quality user experience by using a simple interface and navigation specifically designed for mobile devices. To achieve scale and speed, Dazhi utilizes a patented template. Ashley gives the analogy to illustrate how they are different from competitors, “If you look at a 5 course dinner and McDonald’s; we are McDonald’s. We are quick, easy to use, and catered to people on the go.”

Asking questions to filter out candidates

One of the innovative features Dazhi has implemented is a simple questionnaire based on a drop-down menu which is used to quickly filter out unsuitable candidates and can easily be completed on a mobile phone or tablet. From his experience with job boards, Ashley saw many untargeted job ads receive too many unsuitable resumes which slowed down the process. To overcome this problem, Dazhi allows a company to use 5-6 simple questions like “Where are you located? What was your Bachelors degree? What is your current job title?” This has cut down the unsuitable applications by a factor of 50-60%.

If the candidate passes the initial screening, a sms will be sent to them encouraging them to apply with their resume online through a computer.  This is where the process merges with a computer, since most people save their resume on their computer and not on a mobile phone. However over time, Ashley believes resumes will be transferred over to mobile phones and other mobile devices.

How it makes money

Like McDonald’s clients can choose the most basic deal of simply paying for a mobile recruitment site. Extra functionality can be added, such as a candidate management system, ad campaigns, candidate assessment and pay per successful hire.

Savvy marketing techniques to achieve results

Although a secret as to how, one of the core offerings is being able to effectively market the job ads. Just recently in Hong Kong, their launch pad, they spent HKD$5,000 on a campaign for a local retail bank that resulted in 2 million impressions and 4,000 click-throughs in only 3 days. From a company perspective, they can be seen as cutting edge in terms of mobile recruitment techniques.

Vision is to be the number 1 mobile recruitment platform in China

Dazhi is based in Hong Kong, with the development outsourced to a company in Shanghai. Ashley is looking to open a sales office in Shenzhen by the end of the year.

At the beginning of the year, Dazhi received seed funding of US$80,000 and is preparing to raise another US$500,000 in Q3 2011 to expand the sales force and product development in order to establish itself as the number 1 mobile recruitment platform in China before expanding to other Asian markets.

Dazhi has also won a a Red Herring Award last year for Innovation in Asia.