You may already use mobile apps and devices to check your email and participate in social networks, and even work on your online courses. They further extend the flexibility and convenience of online learning, but are also helpful for career-related activities and job search tasks.
Earlier this month I was privileged to present a technology workshop with Shirley Rowe, a career coach and educator, at the National Career Development Associationâs annual conference. This session provided career services professionals with mobile app suggestions when working with each other and with their students and clients. The conversation that continued after our presentation led to options that students and job seekers could benefit from on their own.
Selecting the Best Apps
There are too many apps out there to try them all. My quick search of the iTunes App store turned up almost 200 "job search" apps, for example, so it's important to identify the ones that will be most useful to you. When you consider apps for job searching, make sure they:
- Work on your device(s). While some apps are more universal in nature, and allow you to access their functions on smartphones, tablets, and laptops of any make and model, others are designed for specific devices and platforms (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows). Rowe recommends, "if you have an iPad and an Android phone, you may want to find out if the app is available for both and can be synched between the two devices."
- Are easy to use â¦ and affordable. If there are too many steps or screens, or you need additional apps or plug-ins to make it work for you, you aren't as likely to put it to use. Frustrating apps will only delay your progress, so keep searching. Some mobile apps can be pricey, which really adds up when you download several, but Rowe reminds us that "there are many free apps available so give some of them a try before you pay for an app that may not be as powerful or useful."
- Do what you want them to do. Convenience is one goal of adding mobile devices and apps to your routine, but realizing these benefits means finding apps that support your use. Where do you need help in your current career development plan or the job search process? Look for specific features and functions, such as a searchable jobs database and news about current trends in your field.
- Have positive ratings. Brand new tools may not have collected a lot of user feedback yet, but many apps include information about user satisfaction. Look for ratings (e.g., on a scale of 1 to 5 stars) and for comments about what works well or not so well. App reviews on sites like PCMag.com, Macworld.com, and CNet.com can also be helpful.
- Are developed by a reputable source. Great advice from Rowe: "as with anything online, make sure the company offering the app is legitimate, and check to see when the latest release was made so you know you have a current app. Some apps are released but never updated."
Keep in mind that while there are countless mobile options out there, they are just one more resource for your career development and job search needs. Use them along with other online and on-ground resources available, including social media, your school's career center, and professional networking activities. Think about where mobile products and services can fill any gaps in your research and outreach.
As I revisited the list of apps Shirley Rowe and I presented to career counselors, with your needs as a student job seeker in mind, I reached out to her for additional suggestions. Here are just a few of our current favorites and ideas for putting them to use. Some include paid options, but all are free to download and use in the ways indicated below.
Decision-Making and Planning
- Mindmeister: Mind- and concept-mapping techniques can be helpful for brainstorming. Use Mindmeister as a visual design tool to illustrate, for example, a list of industries to consider or the components you want and need in your next job. Create a resource for further research and planning. This app also integrates with your Google Drive account, to increase the options for collaboration and sharing, importing and exporting, and printing.
- Unstuck: If you have difficulty making decisions or determining what you should do next, this app's engaging interface and multiple features allow you to "springboard your way to unstuckness." Use the card sort to describe how you are stuck, and work though the reasons why. The tools are designed to help you get there through prompts that clarify your situation, lay out your options, articulate your priorities, and motivate you to take action.
Job Search Process
- Job Search by TheLadders: According to job-matching service TheLadders.com, "research reveals that 72 hours after an employer publishes a new opening, the likelihood of a job seeker's resume being considered plummets by 50%." Rowe agrees that "being able to respond quickly to a new posting or inquiry can put you ahead of other candidates." The site's new mobile app allows you to "discover your next job while you're on-the-go." With the free app options you can set up a profile and conduct a search for relevant openings in your area of interest.
- Dropbox: I recently discovered the benefits of this cloud storage system while working with Rowe on our conference session. It allowed me to not only access the presentation I added to my laptop's "Dropbox folder" from my iPad and smartphone, but also share it with all of our workshop attendees via URL. I could also make quick edits and updates that everyone was able to view as soon as they connected to the Internet. Think of the options here for your resume or C.V., and how having access to your latest documents on your mobile devices could be helpful during unexpected networking opportunities.
- Evernote: You need to take a lot of notes along the way in your own job search and career planning – document the conversations you have and people you meet so that you can follow-up, track your job search applications, and take notes during a career center workshop or seminar. There are many note-taking apps to choose from depending on whether you prefer to type or write (with a stylus), need to add images and links, and/or want to share your notes with others. We recommend SpringPad, Bamboo Paper, and iPad Notes, as additional note taking options. Find something that allows you to write, edit, etc. directly from your mobile device for ultimate flexibility.
- Most of the big job search sites have companion apps available. Rowe's list includes, Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, SnagAJob, and LinkedIn. "Select just one or two" to make their use more manageable, and look for options to "post a resume and submit directly from the app site." Understanding of course, that each resume should be targeted to the employer that receives it.
- Veterans Job Search: This one is not a downloadable app, but just one of several web-based resources optimized by CareerOneStop.org for use on a small screen. Veterans can use this tool to search for jobs that match their military experience and are available in their local area. Each position links to a website with a more detailed job description and options to apply online.
And just in case you thought all job search apps were about work, here are two that help you remember that first impressions count:
- How to Tie a Tie: Turn your device into a mirror so that you can learn to tie a variety of knots along with interactive illustrations.
- Scarf Fashion: From the same developer as above, this one includes step-by-step instructions for 50 stylish scarf techniques, many of which are suitable for interviews and the workplace.
Maximize Your Mobile Resources
A survey conducted by The Beyond.com Career Network found that "77% of job seekers use mobile job search apps." This group also developed a list of best practices that includes advice to:
- Add alert notifications to your accounts so that you can react as quickly as possible to new job postings that match your criteria.
- Save your searches when the app allows for it. This is a time saver that prevents you from having to re-enter your preferences every time you access the app.
- Go beyond job search functions to access industry-related materials on these apps, such as articles, events, and current trends to extend your research into your field of interest.
How do you use mobile technology to further your career and find out about employment opportunities? Share your suggested strategies and favorite apps with us here at Inside Online Learning.