If you haven’t read our introduction on using your smart phone for job hunting, see our previous post, here on Frugal Guidance 2.
Contacts Database / Phone Book
Something that every phone comes with is a directory for storing all your phone numbers and other contact information. The important thing is to keep your job hunting and networking contacts as up-to-date as possible, with as much information as you can, including a person’s title, employer, notes on when you met, and the normal contact info.
However, if you are starting out from scratch, you don’t want to key all this info in from your phone’s touch keyboard. The easer way to do this is import the data from your contacts database, whether it is Microsoft Outlook, or your online email service: Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), Google Contacts, Yahoo!, Zoho.com, or any of a zillion other email services.
If you are importing your contact info, you might want to prune your list a bit first. You don’t need the names of all your children’s past elementary school teachers (especially if the kids are in high school now), those pesky insurance salesmen, and out-of-date contacts—unless it would make sense to network with them again.
If you have contact lists in several locations (say, online, on your phone, and in Outlook or a CRM database), you may want to bring them all together into one master file. This is especially important if you have home phone numbers in one file, business emails in another, and so on.
You can download your lists (a CSV file—Comma Separated Values— is the most basic exchange format) into a spreadsheet or other program to collate the info so you have only one record for each contact. (Some programs, such as Outlook, can automate this a bit, but be careful not to confuse people with the same or similar names.) This may actually take some time to do, especially if you haven’t been particularly organized in the past. It’s time well spent if you are in a job hunt, though. Even better is to do this before you are unemployed!
You can then upload your master list into one online file, and then import that file onto your phone database. Your data provider may have useful tools to help with this, too. With many online services, or with Outlook (the desktop one), you can then link your contacts with LinkedIn for further networking.
As you make contacts with corporate HR people, hiring managers and recruiters, you may want to assign them a special ring tone so you can automatically tell if you want to take the call now or send it to voice mail (especially if you are at work or in a meeting).
Although paper calendars and organizers are wonderful ways to get organized, there are advantages to using your phone and online calendars and linking those together, too. The easiest way to link your appointments and schedules is with Google Calendar. You can synchronize your phone and your desktop Calendar app (Outlook or another desktop calendar) with Google’s Calendar. The goal is to have all your appointments synced together so you can see them on your phone, your computer, or anywhere else.
Google Calendar lets you create public calendars (which you can share with family, friends or your office or job hunting club) and private calendars which only you can see. You can have as many different calendars as you need, one for the office, one for family, one for bill reminders, one for job searching appointments. Color code them, show and hide as necessary, and print out the calendars if you like having an analog reminder.
Specific job hunting activities for your calendar may include:
- Appointments (phone interviews, live interviews, networking events, lunches and coffees)
- Each day’s To Do list
- Add follow-up tasks after a meeting or interview to send thank you notes, email things you promised at your interview, set a time for a follow-up phone call, and more.
- You can also create a calendar diary of job applications with reminders to follow up in a week, two weeks, or whatever.
If you are part of the Microsoft universe, with a Windows phone, Office, OneDrive and such, you might be able to do many of the same things with your OneDrive Calendar, Tasks, Windows phone apps and Outlook.com (email) and Outlook (on your PC). Likewise, the Apple universe also has similar apps connecting your Mac and iOS devises
It doesn’t come with your phone, but the first application many people download onto their phone is Evernote. If you want to get organized, install it and start learning how to use it. It is one of the great organizing tools, and it is available for your phone, your tablet, your PC, your Mac, and online. Each app syncs with the online Evernote database and then syncs, in turn, all your devices together. The basic version (which is as much as many people need) is free.
Evernote allows you to collect info into notebooks. Notebooks have notes, which can be categorized with tags (for easier search), and can include text, video, sound, live links, attached files, PDFs, and more.
To collect info, there are browser clipping tools, or you can email something directly into your Evernote database. (You can BCC or forward all your job hunting email correspondence into a special Evernote notebook created just for that purpose.)
Job hunters can also collect job leads into one Evernote notebook. If a particular job listing looks promising, move it into another note for your research, contact info. a copy of your application, cover letter, correspondence, interview research and notes, and more.
Also keep notebooks with all the relevant info on your past employers, including the dates of employment, supervisor names and their contact info, for job applications.
The purpose of collecting all this info isn’t just to be a pack rat. You do it to have all your essential and useful info at your fingertips all the time, whatever computing device you happen to have at hand. Note that you need Internet access to read notebooks on your phone unless you get a paid account. Then you can keep some notes stored on your phone to use without a live feed.
See our Frugal Guidance 2 posts on using Evernote for lots more ideas.
OneNote – Microsoft’s Rival to Evernote
If you use Microsoft Office with OneDrive, you may prefer to use Microsoft’s OneNote, which is now free. It is also now available for phones, PCs and Macs.
OneNote is also an excellent notebook tool – perhaps the best part of the Microsoft Office toolkit. See our Frugal Guidance 2 review of OneNote and comparison with Evernote.
There are many ways to manage your tasks, ranging from a simple To Do list in your calendar (or the back of an envelope), to Microsoft Outlook, to many online apps (such as Remember the Milk). Each person is different and responds to different features. (In other words, what works for me might not work for you.)
Almost every smart phone has a To Do list manager included. You can also download apps. You might start with a simple To Do list manager, then try an app which allows you to prioritize, schedule, and slice and dice tasks. If you’ve read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, a simple task list won’t cut the cheese, though. There are apps for phones and online tools for collecting, prioritizing, forming your goals and everything else you could need, but finding one that meets your needs is the trick.
See our Frugal Guidance 2 recently updated articles on Getting Organized (a three-part series).
Rather than use a dedicated task management application, you could also use general purpose tools, such as Evernote or even a mind mapping tool or your calendar. Whatever system works for you.
Your phone’s camera can do a lot more than take selfies or short videos.
Business Card Scanning
First, your camera is an excellent tool for scanning business cards. There are at least 3 ways you can do this:
- Use your camera app, as is. When taking a snapshot, try to keep the plane of the phone parallel to the plane of the card (i.e., parallel to the table or desk). The app will probably allow you to automatically copy it to an online storage area of some sort.
- Use a special app for scanning business cards. These will take the photo, automatically adjust for the angle you took the photo (so you can worry less about the camera angle), try to extract the text from the card and create a new record for your phone’s contact application. (Text extraction works much better if the text is on a white background than if it is on a colored or decorative card.) You may be able to upload the card’s image to a special online photo storage area, too.
- Use Evernote’s camera tool and save the image to a specific notebook. Evernote can analyze the image for words and let you search for the text within photos, too. You can also use Evernote’s simple photo-editing app, Skitch, which will save the image to Evernote, along with any notes or annotations.
Somebody will certainly point out that there are tools for smartphones to transfer, bump, swipe and send info with other phones, but until there is a secure universal transfer protocol between different phone brands and OS’s, business cards will probably be preferred.
Other Camera Tricks for Job Hunters
Cameras can do a lot more than work with business cards.
Data Collection and Records
- See a flyer or public notice about a networking meeting? Take a photo of it and the info is available whenever you want. (Evernote works well, here, too — are you sensing an Evernote theme here?)
- Filling out an application form or other info sheet? Keep a copy for your records by taking a quick snapshot of the pages.
- Keep track of your business expenses for your job hunt by taking snapshots of your receipts. If your phone (or, cough, Evernote) is set up to keep your location with your photo, it can help you remember where you spent that money, too.
- If, when at an interview, you have to park in a parking garage or mega-parking-lot, take a photo that shows your car’s location to make it easier to find again. (Perhaps including the sign at the elevator at your parking level in the garage.) Even if you are dashing in so you’re not late, this just takes a couple of seconds.
- When at the library you find an interesting article, ad, or have one of those rare sightings of an actual printed job ad, take a photo of it to read, review or reference later.
- Watching a PowerPoint or other presentation and see a useful slide? Use your camera phone to take a quick photo — it’s easier than scribbling down notes and more legible, too.
- At a networking meeting? Ask the people you meet if you may take their picture. Have them hold up their ID card and you have a photo with their name, which makes it easier to follow up and remember which name goes with which face.
- You can do similar things at your interview, but definitely ask, first.
- Your phone camera makes it easy to take photos at your networking meetings, at seminars or classes, or other events and then share them on LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever you feel comfortable.
Wherever you are, if you want to take a quick verbal note, smart phones come with simple recording apps. Or use Evernote’s Penultimate app (for iPads and iPhones) to take notes and record simultaneously.
Do not try to record your job interviews, though, even if you think you could do it without being noticed. First, it’s unethical to record somebody without their permission (even if all you want to do is evaluate your interview technique); second, if you are caught, the person interviewing you quite likely will deep-six your application.
If your phone doesn’t come with Google (or Apple’s) map application, get it. Nothing could be better for driving to a meeting or an interview, especially if you think you might be lost. It’s also great for checking locations and potential commuting routes.
There are also specialty apps for many cities (where you live or where you want to work), which might include maps, subways, bus schedules, events, restaurants and coffee shops, history notes, parks, and even VR (Virtual Reality) tools.
Other Ordinary Apps that Might Help Your Job Hunt
- Skype – for free and cheap long distance calls
- PDF readers – There’s lots of “printed” material out there in PDF format. You don’t have to wait to transfer it to your PC or Mac. If you use an iPhone or iPad, I recommend GoodReader which not only lets you read PDFs (and many other documents), but lets you annotate them and take notes, too.
- Book Readers – There are lots of books out there on job hunting, interview techniques, career management, and in your area of expertise. Reading is good. Check out apps for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. They’re free. (The books may cost.)
- Install the app for your favorite file-sharing service, such as Box.com, Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync or many others.
- Writing and outlining tools.
- QR Code Scanner – OK, maybe this is dated technology, but if you do run into printed material with QR Codes (those black and white square-coded boxes) this could be useful. If the coded blocks include colored triangles, that’s a rarer Microsoft High Capacity bar code, which needs a separate app. Even if you don’t need a QR code scanner, you might be able to use a separate bar code scanner for shopping and comparison pricing.
These are just a few ideas for using the apps that come with your phone. In the next segment, we’ll share ideas for apps you can download to your phone to help your job hunt.
Title photo of woman’s hands with phone, “Using Smart Phone,” is used courtesy of Patrisyu and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.