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3 Free Apps to Boost Your Job Search

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 22-07-2015 Laura McMullen

Laptops, computers and tablets aren't the only devices you can use to search for jobs.: A businesswoman uses a smartphone in the office. © (Getty Images) A businesswoman uses a smartphone in the office.

This smartphone fad may stick around. The Pew Research Center estimates that nearly two-thirds of Americans own one, as if you couldn't tell. It seems like most of them are following your teenage cousin on Instagram. Or walking right into you on the sidewalk – their head buried in their phone. (Or maybe you're the one bumping into people! That trash can you stubbed your toe on? That was actually your co-worker, Paul!)  

Or they're applying to jobs. Or posting jobs.

Just like your smartphone's apps make it easier for you to find pizza at 2 a.m., they also help you find job postings whenever you want. Here are three expert-recommended apps, along with tips for using them: 

The Apps

1. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Job Search app

© Reuters You're already using LinkedIn to job search on your computer, so why not do the same on your smartphone? The go-to professional networking website has several apps, including one simply called LinkedIn, which looks and functions similarly to a mobile version of the site, and another, LinkedIn Job Search, which was released last year. With the latter, "you can search, sort and filter the jobs that you're most interested in and apply to them on the run," says Dan Schawbel, best-selling author of "Promote Yourself" and "Me 2.0."

Use LinkedIn Job Search to save searches customized with keywords and locations. "That way, the app will be able to send you notifications as soon as a new job that matches your search is posted," says Karissa Bell, apps reporter for Mashable. She points out that, according to LinkedIn, applicants who apply to jobs on the first day they're posted are 10 percent more likely to be hired for them. So why not be one of the first people to know when your dream job is listed? 

2. Switch

© REX Features  Schwabel and just about every media outlet that's covered Switch has likened it to the dating app Tinder. While browsing job postings, you can swipe right if interested in the opportunity and left if not. On the other side, the hiring managers for these positions are swiping, too, except they're giving yays and nays to yours and other job seekers' ​anonymous profiles. When you show interest in a position, and its hiring manager does the same with ​​your profile, call it love – uh, networking – at first swipe.​ At that point, you can directly chat with the hiring manager in the app's messaging feature.

Job hunting with this app, which is currently only available on iOS, is a heck of a lot more personal than submitting online applications and résumés. And that's a good thing, Schwabel says: "Since people hire people, it's never more important to skip the résumé submission process and start connecting with hiring managers directly." ​ 

3. Job board apps

© Bloomberg Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, SimplyHired, Glassdoor – each of these job aggregate sites has a mobile app version, which allows you to search for opportunities. Indeed's website boasts more than 180 million unique visitors every month, which is partly why Schwabel recommends its app. "As the largest job search aggregator, this app puts all the jobs in the world in the palm of your hand," he says. "It's easy to navigate through jobs, allowing you to find the right job that matches your abilities." ​ 

Arnie Fertig, a U.S. News Careers blogger, suggests another app: Snagajob. ​This app, which has the same name as its website, caters to job seekers looking for hourly work. According to its iTunes description, you can search and apply to over 350,000 jobs in industries ranging from restaurants to retail and customer service. ​

The Tips

Use apps for research. Susan Joyce, online job search expert and creator of job-hunt.org, says apps are best used for researching positions and employers, ​rather than actually applying to jobs. "With Indeed and SimplyHired apps, see what jobs are open for which employers in your target industry and locations. What job titles are used? What skills are required? Who's hiring for what jobs where?" she says. "On Glassdoor's app, learn about the employers, read reviews, check out salaries and scan the job openings." She adds that the LinkedIn app is a prime research tool, too. ​ 

And then switch to the computer

© Corbis Once you use the apps to find a position you want to pursue, Joyce suggests moving to the big screen, on which you can more easily (and accurately) apply to the job. "Think of a job application as an example of your work product, since it is a demonstration, at least, of how well you can read a job description and complete an application form," she says. You better make sure that work product is flawless, which is a hard feat using a smartphone. "Since most of us aren't really good typing with our thumbs, typos happen. The wrong link gets clicked. Other oopsies occur that don't make a great impression," she says.

Fertig adds that LinkedIn connecting should also be saved for the computer. While the LinkedIn app sends a boilerplate "I'd like to add you to my professional network" message to prospective connections, the website allows you to personalize it, which is always the better call. ​ 

Don't be afraid to log off.

Remember: Your job search shouldn't be confined to a 5-by-2-inch glowing screen. While apps can be convenient and even fun – swipe, swipe, swipe! – they're only a small part of your search. In fact, Steve Dalton, program director for daytime​ career services at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and author of "The 2-Hour Job Search," warns against using apps in place of real-life conversations. "Apps are a distraction from the really scary task of sending that email to a stranger asking them if they're willing to talk to you and share their advice," he says.​

And who knows? Maybe that friend of a friend, industry peer or hiring manager you talk to is one of your cousin's Instagram followers. That's a great conversation starter once you lift up your head and stop running into people. ​ 

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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