Posted by Jackie Judge on 8/04/09
Looking for a job? Many of us are. While corporate America has been touting the end of the recession, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “over” for the rest of us, as we still struggle to find suitable work and make ends meet. Thankfully, there are many avenues to find employment, sites like Craigslist and Idealist.org, Monster.com and Yahoo! all help people search under specific categories and within specific zip codes, and people with a college degree can often seek their alma mater’s alumni network and Career Boards, to see if networking will extend a friendly olive branch.
JobCompass is a new iPhone app that helps you job search on the go, linking you to job search results at Indeed.com. It is the only dual web and mobile job search application that helpfully plots a map of jobs in relation to your current location, so that you may select job results via map markers or through a written list of results. In the event you are not toting around your laptop in that spongy, protective carry-all we all seem to have, using JobCompass provides an easy alternative, allowing you to search millions of jobs on the spur of the moment.
Starting the application is a bit slow compared to other map functions on iPhone apps, but at least it warns you with a disclaimer of, “This may take up to 30 seconds,” while it figure out where you are and loads the ensuing map. A bright red and blue compass (JobCompass’ icon) highlights your current location on a Google map, with a search tab running along the top. Tap the Search bar to set a search radius of 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles, and search using a keyword best describing your field of interest – e.g. cook, writing, administrative, nonprofit, etc, then tap “search” for a list of results, and a map with numeric markers indicating their distance from you. Below the map will be a navigation bar for the map’s ease of use, including plus and minus signs to zoom in or out (though you may use your fingers as you would any feature on the iPhone), a “map” button to view the entire map and forgo the list, and a “find me” button should your radius of 100 miles away discombobulate your orientation and you lose sight of where your current location is (granted I’m very familiar with my home state of California, I truly doubt I’d lost sight of my current location of Petaluma in relation to, say, Walnut Creek or Moraga). The full map view is quite nice, as I enjoy first picking and examining those jobs closest to me – I would much prefer the 30 minute commute to Mill Valley than the near hour commute to Hayward – but retaining a half map and half list is probably the better choice as that way I can actually match up the numbers to job titles, thus enabling me to choose Program Director over Administrative Assistant instead of trial and error choosing with just the map.
Each results page lists 10 jobs, and you can simply cycle through the different pages to view all the job search results. In the list, each job has a title (e.g. Public Affairs Associate), and a blue arrow to the right that takes you to a short job description. Tapping on the job title makes the map center on its location, and either double-tapping the job or tapping the blue arrow takes you to a page with a job description and the option to send this job listing to a specific email (in the future, JobCompass will remember the email so you don’t have to). The job description pages provides the name of the company hiring, the job title, a brief blurb of the job’s pertinent points, and then another blue arrow to navigate you to an Indeed.com page providing the full job description; thankfully, JobCompass gives you the option of navigating to the page in Safari browser, in case you wish to stay in the JobCompass app.
While I admit the map feature is nice, being able to visually tell where a specific job is located, the rest of what the app provides is fairly ubiquitous among other job search engines. JobCompass is even a bit limiting in that it only searches within your home base region, relegating its use only for those commuting long distances (the poor Lodi residents commuting to their Bay Area jobs) since its search radius is 100 miles, and not for those wishing to relocate and thus find jobs in a new area (JobCompass does prompt you with either using your current location or a set location, but the set location function has yet to work on my iPhone). But, the real question is, why do you need to search for jobs on the go? It’s more likely you’ll have a computer or at least access to a computer than afford an iPhone to use the JobCompass app, especially when the unemployed might need to re-sort their financial priorities if they hold an expensive iPhone in hand. JobCompass has a website, anyway, so the app is really just for frills, especially since I imagine when most people are job-hunting, they take the act seriously, setting aside time with a pot of coffee and a nice cushion to spend a few hours in front of the computer, sending resumes and crafting cover letters. I cannot think of a single time I would sit in a coffee shop and think “gee, I should search for a job right now,” when it’s just as easy, and perhaps more functional, to simply go home and find my computer. It’s not like the job is going to run away within that time frame, and unless you have the expensive Microsoft Office app on your iPhone, don’t expect to have your resume handy on-the-go. And who likes typing up entire Cover letters with the Word doc on the iPhone, anyway?
JobCompass has its heart in the right place, and they are trying hard to find a niche in this jobless, heartbroken land of America. But, for now, with the limitations of the iPhone, it’s better to seek the reliance of your home computer.
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Tagged as: free iphone app, Indeed.com, job search, job search app, JobCompass, work search