Carrying your cell phone all the time makes it the single best place to centralize your job search information. Here’s how you should be using it for job search success.

Cell phone boy (Hello Operator)

Cell phone job search basics

Only get one if you must – yes, there are still people who don’t have cell phones. I held out as long as I could before finally getting my first cell phone in July 2007. How was I able to wait so long? Whether at work or at home, I always had a land line within reach and when I was out, I was either with my wife or otherwise able to borrow her cell phone. If your job search will see you out of the house often, you must get a cell phone.

Use your own – Do you have a work cell phone from your current job? Never use that phone for anything job-search related.

Separate work and play
– job search is a job in itself and should be treated in kind. Just like you should use a separate “home-work” email account for job search, you might want to get a separate home-work cell phone for job searching. One idea is to rent a phone. Among the many benefits would be knowing that anytime that phone rings, it’s job search-related.

Choose the right plan for you
– use this guide and your personal experience to make a short list of needs for your job search cell phone usage. Perhaps you’ll need more minutes or you’d like to have Internet access. Then, find the best plan to fit your new needs.

Choose the right phone for you
– similarly to the above, maybe your current phone doesn’t allow you to everything you’ll need or maybe it’s time to get a new phone anyway. Before making your choice, try to understand your needs as best as you can.

Sync with your personal brand
– The kind of phone you carry should be consistent with your personal brand. If you’re going to an interview for a professional position, you’ll likely be dressed well. Don’t ruin that impression by showing a scratched, beat-up old phone. If you have an old phone, buy a shiny new faceplate to put on it.

Keep your phone charged
– have your phone fully charged before you head out for interviews or meetings. You may even want to carry a charger with you if you’re a heavy user. In Israel, there are electrical sockets on public trains that people routinely use to charge their cell phones.

Keep your phone updated
– service provider or manufacturer security patches prevent people from stealing information off your phone, and free upgrades may give you new software tools to save time or otherwise improve your job search.

Follow manufacturer usage guidelines
– don’t ignore warnings about using your cellphone in extreme weather, getting it wet, etc. The last thing you want is for your cellphone to die when you depend on it for so much. You certainly don’t want your cell phone exploding on you.

Anticipate loss or theft
– avoid storing anything incriminating on your phone, use passwords and keep your information regularly backed up on your computer.

Features to leverage for your job search

Address book – put all your contact information into your cell phone’s address book and fill each profile as much as possible. Include company research where relevant and notes about people you’ve met or are going to meet. Categorize your recruiters and job search contacts and assign each category a unique ringtone so you’ll know it’s a job-related call before you answer the phone.

Calendar
– keep your schedule of job search tasks, interviews and networking opportunities updated on your cell phone for you to check at a glance.

Reminders
– by keeping your schedule on the phone, you can set reminders so you never miss anything in that schedule.

Memos
– whenever a job search idea pops into your head – tactics to try, someone new to contact, etc. – take note of it and then assign an alert to remind you about it later.

To do lists
– organize your job search tasks in a prioritized to do list. Assign a due date to each task and make your best effort to meet those deadlines. This is especially important if you’re unemployed and might be getting out of the habit of having deadlines.

Email
– being able to check your email on your cell phone is a good way to avoid carrying around a laptop.

Camera
– take a picture of interviewers if they don’t mind and attach the image to their profile in your address book. If they ask why, it’s a memory building exercise. People don’t do this often, so it will make your visit more memorable. Another idea – make a video of yourself giving your elevator pitch so you can easily send it to someone else via multimedia text message (MMS) or email.

Voicemail
– have a professional-sounding voicemail message that’s brief, upbeat and confident. Don’t be afraid to change the message on a whim if you’re expecting a specific call and there’s a chance you’ll miss it.

Web browser
– use the Internet to find maps to interviews, read about a company, browse job listings, update your blog or Twitter account and more. Many web sites have mobile versions like LinkedIn or CareerBuilder.

Text messages – have job listings delivered directly to your only if you can ensure that each listing will interest you otherwise this will get annoying very quickly. Also, depending on how you’re managing your job search, this may not be very practical.

Image viewer
– carry pictures of company buildings or other unfamiliar meeting locations that you downloaded from company websites, photosharing sites like Flickr, telephone directories or sites like Google Street View. Also, carry a good, professional-looking portrait of yourself for quick sharing.

Files
– carry digital copies of your resume or CV that you could quickly share via Bluetooth, email or MMS. Or- use your cell phone to learn; where better to read e-books than when you’re sitting in public transportation?

Multimedia – job searching is stressful. During a commute, use your cell phone to relax with your favorite music or tv show.

Ringback tones – if you’re using a ringback tone, choose a neutral one that won’t annoy recruiters and other job search contacts.

Backgrounds – be careful of which image you use for your cell phone’s background if there’s a chance that a job search contact will see it.

Software – keep your eyes open for cell phone software that can help. Job Compass and CareerBuilder have both created applications for the iPhone that show you job listings in the area where you’re standing right now.

Cell phone job search tips and tactics

Put it on your resume – the only telephone number listed in your resume’s contact section should be your cell phone number. This lowers the chance of lost messages that someone else forgot to give you.

Forward calls
– if you’re using Skype for international job search telephone calls, have Skype forward all calls to your cell. If some recruiters have older versions of your resume with your home phone listed, do the same with your home phone, simplifying your voice communications by having them all managed from one device.

Filter your calls
– are you ready for this call? If not, let it go to voicemail and call back when you’re better prepared.

Think before answering
– don’t take job-search-related calls if you’re in a place where expressing yourself freely could be a problem or leave a bad impression e.g. while driving, *at work*, on a noisy street, at a doctor’s office, in the bathroom, etc. You get the idea.

Answer with your name
– answer the phone by calmly saying your name and not just ‘hello?’. This way recruiters immediately know they’ve reached you, saving time and starting the conversation clearly.

Keep your voice down
– this is a general tip for anyone talking on a cell phone. It’s not like a passerby is going to come up and offer you a job lead because they overheard your conversation.

Harvest numbers
– unlike most land-based phones, cell phones will record the incoming number unless it’s blocked by the caller. Using a cell phone instead of a “regular” phone is a good way to attain direct numbers instead of having to go through a receptionist for follow-ups.

Following up
– of course you’ll use your phone for spur of the moment actions like notifying when you’ll be late or rescheduling an interview, but use it to follow up on emailed resumes and give thank yous as well.

Refresh your memory
– before interviews, read downloaded information on your cell phone about the company you’re targeting or person you’ll be meeting with.

Respect interviewers
– turn off your cellphone before going into interviews. Not silent or vibrate mode, OFF.

Leave your cell in your car
– if you’re someone who’ll forget to turn off your cell phone before interviews, get into the habit of leaving the phone in your car or set a reminder 10 minutes before the interview to tell you to turn it off.

Don’t complain when interviewers are rude with theirs
– never complain if an interviewer rudely answers their own phone. Instead, make a mental note. It’s not necessarily the sign of a bad employer, but it might be the sign of a bad employee.

Never interrupt a recruitment call
– only interrupt a call with an employer or recruiter if it’s an emergency, and even then, apologize when you do it.

Avoid cell phone interviews entirely
– even today, many cell phone conversations have some background noise or static and can be cut off spontaneously due to network issues. Even if not your fault, it won’t leave a positive impression. Rather, if a conversation will go long, schedule it for when you can use a more stable land line.

Don’t forget it anywhere
– especially at a targeted company or a recruiter’s office. That will never look good but if you do forget it, call the office and try to get it back. You may not get the job but at least you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

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This article is part of the Cell Phone Users and Abusers Group Writing Project that I discovered on Group Writing Projects.

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--Jacob Share