QR Codes in Job Search: Really?

By Sharon Graham.

If you’re a career practitioner or resume writer, I’m sure you’ve heard the latest hype about QR codes. Some evangelists swear that they are the “next big thing” in job search strategy. Others believe that this is just another fad that will completely disappear into the fog of technology past.

As an innovative professional, you’re likely curious about all the buzz. If using a QR Code can be beneficial to a job search, you don’t want to be left out of the loop.

I don’t proclaim to be an expert on the subject, but while researching how these codes are currently being used, I’ve learned of many pros and cons to using this new technology for career development. I’ve noticed that vendors and providers who want to sell services related to developing and tracking QR codes promote them aggressively. However, critics believe that the codes are “gimmicky” and don’t work in real life scenarios. As you’ll see, I’ve developed some strong opinions of my own.

Here’s what you need to know about QR codes before making your own decision.

What is a QR Code?

Quick Response codes, “QR codes” for short, originated in Japan, where organizations have been using them for a number of years. These days, businesses around the world use QR codes to advertise, market, and promote their companies, services, and products.

These little, square codes are similar to traditional barcodes you find on price tags in stores. However, they are quickly gaining in popularity because they can hold far more information such as website links, phone numbers, email addresses, and other text.

The code is actually a picture with embedded information. When someone scans the picture using a mobile application (QR Code Reader) or another scanning device, the details within the picture open up.

Why would a person use a QR Code?

Just as companies use QR codes to promote their organizations, individuals can use QR codes to promote themselves.

QR codes are primarily used on smart phones. Mobile apps allow recruiters and employers to familiarize themselves with candidates using devices such as Blackberrys, iPhones, android phones, and iPads.

Pioneering job seekers, consultants, and other entrepreneurs are starting to use QR codes in resumes, business cards, and other documents in their marketing portfolio. The primary purpose of the code is to provide detailed information to networking contacts, recruiters, and employers. However, more advanced individuals can also track the usage of the code.

You can easily create a QR code to provide any information you choose to give to others:

  • A QR code can be built to open up a V-Card that includes your contact information, credentials, LinkedIn address, Twitter handle, Skype name, blog, and/or website, making it easy for your connections to add you to their contact list on their on cell phone.
  • You can create a QR code that has text only. A creative text code might offer a short resume profile, a list of projects, employers, clients, or achievements.
  • Most commonly, you can build a QR code that opens up a link to one webpage that is optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone. For example, you could direct a person to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, blog, website, or YouTube video.

If you decide to create a QR code for your client, you might want to place it on the back of the business card or at the top of the so it can be easily scanned by mobile phone users. The most important thing is to ensure that the code leads to a mobile-friendly page or vCard.

Who should use a QR Code?

Clearly, in terms of career development or job search, QR codes are in the very early stages of development.

Certain professionals might want to use QR codes to show that they are on the leading edge of technology. By incorporating a code into their self-marketing material, they can advance their career by providing others with a concise link to information they want to share. By disseminating a QR code, they are also demonstrating their proficiency in the technology.

Good candidates for QR Codes:

  • Job seekers specializing in advertising, marketing, communications, and business development could add a code to their business card and portfolio cover to show off their understanding of the technology and to advance their career.
  • Professionals in technology-related roles might want to put a code on their resume to show that they are progressive and that they keep up with advancements in technology.
  • Management consultants might use various QR codes in brochures, magazine ads, and proposals to advertise, deploy promotions, and expand their business.

Some progressive employers such as marketing firms, advertising agencies, and software technology firms are likely to find a candidate who has an understanding of the technology appealing. If you are targeting organizations that use such codes in their business, it may be advantageous to add a QR code to your resume.

Putting a QR code in an email would be overkill. Remember, QR codes are mostly for mobile communications hardware. There is little reason for anyone to scan a code in an email when they can simply click on a link.

Can anyone generate a code?

Yes. If you feel that a QR code will be beneficial on your client’s resume, narrative biography, or business card, you can easily create one.

A quick Google search will uncover many internet applications that can help you generate QR codes. Some even have the capability to track people scanning QR codes:


A free, easy to use text or link QR code generator.


A free QR code generator with multiple tabs for different types of codes.


A free colour QR code generator with a variety of options, including LinkedIn and vCard.


If you are serious about generating a QR code to create mobile-friendly pages and manage job searches, check out this up-and-coming service. Vizibility has a free, easy-to-use interface to help your clients present details about their background in a mini-online marketing visual. Your clients can rank and manage Google search results so that they can show the most important and appropriate pages and sites to people who scan the QR code. Advanced features will allow your clients to track people who have used the code.

What are the cons of using a QR code?

At this point, there is a lot of controversy about the use of QR codes for job search. Some people believe that QR codes are a waste of time and that candidates could use their time and energy in many other ways.

Using a QR code might help your clients in a job search but, if it does, the current value is miniscule:

  • According to Sean X Cummings, the general public seems largely oblivious to their use. An informal street survey of 300 people determined that only 11% of people even knew what a QR code was – let alone how to use it.
  • Recruiters typically use Applicant Tracking Systems (resume scanning software) to sort and select resumes based on the text in the documents themselves. I don’t know of any such software that is able to recognize QR codes.
  • Today, most recruiters don’t use QR codes to research candidates. They do their formal research and background checks on a laptop or desktop computer. Therefore, recruiters are likely to ignore a QR code unless it is pertinent to the job being targeted.
  • QR codes are mobile friendly – and that’s all. QR codes are not valuable beyond being simple links in a picture that your contact can scan if they have the right application loaded. For most people, receiving a link to a website is just as good as a scannable picture.

My conclusions?

I’m open – but guarded – about the possibilities of using QR codes.

All of your clients’ self-marketing documents should be designed to meet the needs of the recipient. At this point, few recruiters know about or use QR codes at all. Clearly, some traditional approaches work very well. There is no reason to spend a lot of time and energy on something that is not proven. If recruiters want things a certain way, then why rock the boat?

In most cases, there seems to be little reason to use a code. Nevertheless, there are scenarios where I would include a QR code in a client’s business card, resume, or other marketing material – all are directly related to the requirements of the targeted position, organization, and industry.

Admittedly, the use of QR Codes for job search is still in its infancy; however, I would include them for some progressive professionals. If nothing else, the QR code might show that they are ahead of their time, stimulate an enquiry from a recruiter, or start a conversation on the topic.

In the future, as technology progresses, there may be more compelling reasons for using QR codes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone actually scanned your QR code? Is the idea far-fetched or promising? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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