Mobile apps can give careers, job searches a boost

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By Vickie Elmer
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Your career is about to get a boost from some mobile apps. And your on-the-go life could be a little better, less cluttered and more informed as a result of embracing use-anywhere tech tools.

"We're moving towards a highly mobile society and, of course, workplace. Anything that allows one to work, blog, socialize and communicate on the go deserves some attention," said Jackson Chung, assistant editor of Makeuseof.com, which offers how-to's and cool Web sites and apps in everything from maps to productivity. Chung recently discovered two apps -- Calvetica and Sorted -- that help maintain his schedule and to-do lists "very efficiently, without mucking about."

The array of available apps can be daunting. And when you look into the social networking category on the iTunes App Store, you're more likely to see dating tools than professional networking apps. Sort through them by asking yourself what you'd like to achieve.

Some people may want to install one or two apps that deliver job postings straight to their phones -- and allow them to send their résumé to the best openings. There are plenty of choices, including iJob, Indeed.com, CareerBuilder and Craigster, which connects with Craigslist. Or perhaps you may want your smartphone to help build your connections and your brand.

Job seekers want to appear current about technology. If you pull out an iPhone to show a miniature portfolio of your graphic designs or to give your professional references, you may seem like a kindred spirit to a tech-savvy hiring manager. Or if you show how you manage your time carefully with a productivity app, it may impress your future boss.

"It shows that you're current . . . that you have an interest in continuous learning, and that goes a long way" in impressing employers, said Ali Chambers, vice president of ClearRock, an outplacement and executive coaching firm in the Boston area.

Apps also can "control your name, your image, your brand on the fly," said TChad Moore, digital media manager at Palladian Partners in Silver Spring, which creates Web sites, marketing materials and other products, mainly for government clients.

One of his favorite mobile apps is LinkedIn, the business and professional networking site that has become a platform for showcasing your expertise, brand and connections.

For example, he uses it at meetings of the Young Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association's Bethesda chapter, of which he is vice chairman. The leadership group may be discussing future meetings or panels and want to find presenters. So he pulls up his LinkedIn app and immediately can identify all his connections -- and the people they know. "Do I know anyone who knows that person? . . . I find it very helpful," he said.

It could be equally helpful to a job seeker who finds out a second person has been added to the interview that starts in 15 minutes. Moore launches WebEx on his phone to dive into online webinars or Adobe Connect for multi-site meetings.

But, as you add mobile apps, be careful you don't crowd out traditional job-search tools such as answering ads and arranging face-to-face networking meetings, said Chambers, the outplacement executive.

She said she believes mobile apps have value, especially for people working full time and trying to actively find another assignment. Yet she also knows how much time tech tools can take. "The tweets and updates can really suck you in. For job seekers in transition, be careful how much time [you are] using technology as opposed to talking to people" and researching employers.


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