3 free apps to boost your job search

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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

LinkedIn and LinkedIn Job Search app. 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?

Switch. 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." ​

Job board apps. 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. 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

Click through the slideshow below to see the 7 tools every job seekers needs:

8 PHOTOS
7 Tools Every Job Seeker Needs
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3 free apps to boost your job search

1. Email signature.

Your email signature is possibly one of the most important branding tools you're not taking advantage of. It’s your chance to let everyone know what your expertise is, how to contact you and where to learn more about you online. Employees are often required to add the company logo, tag line and contact information to email signatures. As job seekers, an email signature is a subtle way to remind people what you do.

Quick tips: The most important information to include is your name, phone number, email address, desired occupation and link to your LinkedIn profile. An easy solution is to use an app like WiseStamp to create and insert your signature.

(Photo: Getty)

2. Active and robust LinkedIn presence. 

LinkedIn has become a go-to source for companies of all sizes to seek out talent. While your profile will be similar to your résumé, it is not exactly the same. LinkedIn is a social network where people share information. Besides having a profile rich in content and media, you should also share newsworthy articles to help build your online reputation and stay connected with your network.

Quick tips: You must have a headshot, a headline that describes what you do and a summary where you tell your story. But don’t stop there. Embed a presentation that summarizes your experience or includes testimonials. Have you downloaded the SlideShare app for LinkedIn? What about the LinkedIn Connected or Pulse apps? ​These tools give you a better mobile LinkedIn experience.

(Photo: Getty)

3. An easily accessible, on-the-go résumé

There will be occasions when someone wants you to send your résumé ASAP or when you arrive at an interview and your résumé is MIA. Save your résumés so you can easily access them and share them from your mobile device.

Quick tip: Being able to access important documents from anywhere is critical not only in your job search, but at work, too. Learn how to save and share documents using Dropbox or Google Drive, which provide free storage and are easily accessible from any device.

(Photo: Getty)

4. Business cards. 

This may seem old-fashioned, but business cards make life easier. When you meet someone new or reconnect with an old friend, just hand him or her your card at the end of the conversation.

Quick tip: Your business card need only include the information you want to share: your name, occupation (or desired occupation), phone number, email address and links to any social media profiles, like your LinkedIn URL. If you want to use something more high-tech, try one of the apps that allows you to share your card from your phone, like CardDrop. Or pick up a business card with FullContact’s Card Reader.

(Photo: Getty)

5. Your perfected pitch.

You only have one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t blow it. You’ll need it when you meet people and they ask what you do. You’ll also need one customized for every interview you take. Your pitch conveys what problem you can solve for an employer. Use words and language to ensure your unique style and personality come through. And avoid résumé-speak or jargon that isn’t universally understood.

Quick tip: Keep your pitch under a minute, and practice so it sounds natural. If you need some guidance, check out the myPitch app created by Karalyn Brown of InterviewIQ.

(Photo: Getty)

6. Target list of potential employers.

Rather than searching job boards all day, looking for the perfect job and getting lost in the black hole of applications, why not approach people inside companies you would like to work for? This route is more work up front, but it will help you stand out and rise to the top of the referral pile if you make the cut.

Quick tip: There are tons of apps for finding posted jobs, but what you really need is additional help networking. Don’t miss Alison Doyle’s new app called Career Tool Belt. It's loaded with job hunting tips, including the 30 Days to your Dream Job series to guide you day by day.

(Photo: Getty)

7. A dose of motivation.

Job searching tends to lead to frustration. Rejection is an unfortunate part of the process. Invest time doing things that rejuvenate your energy and keep you feeling hopeful, such as exercising, volunteering or learning a new skill. Keep moving forward and create to-do lists and follow-up actions every day.

Quick tip: Whether you use a calendar system or an organizational app like Any.do, mapping out your weekly activities helps maintain momentum and puts you in the driver’s seat.

(Photo: Getty)

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