Quick Response codes, better known as QR codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that can serve an important role in your job search. While not a replacement for an online resume or a professional business card, QR codes can be an excellent complement to your overall get-a-job marketing campaign.
Don’t let the QR code’s high-tech look scare you; the technology has transitioned into the mainstream and is on track for exponential growth. If you write off the QR code as a mobile marketing darling that will fade out fast, you will be left behind. QR was originally used by factories in Asia to decode warehouse items and have been around since the mid-90s. By all accounts, they’re here to stay.
Read up on the basics so you can start using QR technology in your job search today:
Creating a QR Code
A variety of tools allow you to create your own QR codes. I’m partial to Google’s URL shortener (Goo.gl). It’s a simple interface where you put in your long link and get a short link with a corresponding QR code in return. Analytics appear directly on the page, allowing you to know how many times the code was clicked, what country the visitor is coming from, and what browser/platform they are using. Kaywa, another free code generator, is also easy to use.
Designing a QR Code
QR codes are not a black and white affair. Codes can be altered significantly as far as style and color. Creators can even embed a logo or image into the center of the code. It’s important to keep the body of the code a dark color and the background color light. Leave ample space around the sides of the code. Every time you make a change to the code, no matter how slight, test the scannability of your code. The worst thing you can do is release it into the wild without extensive testing. Here’s an example of a rudimentary code that I altered to give you an idea of what is possible.
When designing your QR code, keep in mind that the farther away you are from the code, the bigger the code needs to be. Here’s an example of CNN using a QR code live on-air. This code clearly needs to be larger than what you would use on a resume or business card. But a QR code can be less than an inch on either side and scan just fine.
Where to link your QR code
So you got the employer’s attention, congratulations! But that’s obviously only part of the equation. Now you must make sure the destination is worth their while and represents you in the best light possible.
Where you choose to direct people will depend on your goal and profession. A designer might want to lead people to a slide show; a video producer to an ad they produced; a lawyer to a list of cases she has worked on, etc. Just be sure not to send people directly to your online resume. There’s no point in sending them to the same information they already have in front of them. It is also imperative to check that the content you are sending people to can be easily digested on a mobile device.
QR codes can also be directed to a phone number if you want to save the employer from having to tap 10 digits to call you.
Where to promote your QR code
Your resume and business cards are great places to get your QR codes in front of an audience, but don’t be afraid to get creative. I’ve seen people with temporary QR codes tattooed on themselves at conferences. I’ve also seen young executives wear neckties featuring QR codes. You have to find the application that makes the most sense in your job interview setting.
Also know that QR codes have a competitor in Microsoft’s Smart Tags. Each offer similar functionality, and each has fans and detractors. While Smart Tags offer a few nice free features, like the ability to change a code’s destination on the fly, I have found that the number of people who have the app necessary to view the codes favors QR by more than 2-to-1.
With a ton of flexibility, there’s no reason not to use QR codes in your job search. Whether you opt to make it the cornerstone of your online portfolio or a tiny part of the overall job search plan, QR deserves your attention.
Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job and an established freelance blogger who is available for hire. Follow him on Twitter (@jobacle) or connect on LinkedIn.