QR codes are a second-generation barcode that allows potential candidates to quickly and directly access supporting materials and websites using only a camera equipped smartphone. QR codes have many uses, but are most often used to direct target audiences to online content that cannot be easily conveyed in print.
You can of course provide a printed URL, but if you have ever tried to enter a long URL into a mobile browser, chances are you wouldn’t do it again.
What Is a QR Code?
The QR in QR code stands for quick response, and although you might not know them by name, you have undoubtedly already seen these one-inch square shaped symbols that look a little like a maze in advertisements, on billboards, and in posters. Don’t let their size fool you: QR codes can be powerful communication mechanisms because they can take candidates directly to customized supplemental recruiting information that might include a website, pictures, videos, narrative information, or point directly to Twitter or Facebook. Organizations that have taken lead in using QR codes for recruiting include Google, the U.S. Army, E&Y, AT&T, Siemens, and Pepsi.
The Many Benefits of Using QR Codes in Recruiting
QR codes were designed to support mobile users, something the recruiting-tools community hasn’t invested a great deal of time in despite the widespread adoption of smartphones. Because many smartphone users are never more than a few feet from their almost-always-on device, mobile will become the platform of choice for recruiting activity. The application to decode a QR Code comes pre-installed on most devices and there are many free Apps for users with a device not pre-installed with one. Potential candidates could be on the subway, reading the paper, or walking down the street and with the push of a button be immediately taken to follow-up information or a job application.
If your recruiting effort is attempting to show off your firm’s innovation or its use of technology, the use of these codes might help to reinforce that message. QR codes can dramatically increase the value and usefulness of print ads, billboards, posters, business cards, and brochures. Because college students are particularly mobile phone dependent, QR codes should be embedded into all aspects of college recruiting.
These codes are also powerful because they easily allow for effective tracking analytics that can identify sources and usage rates. In addition, QR codes can be produced for free and because they are so small, will save space and advertising costs. These codes can also be used for non-recruiting purposes including check-ins and to provide employee, vendor, and customer information.
“Like a picture, a QR Code can replace a thousand words.”
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Potential Uses of QR Codes in Recruiting
There are literally dozens of ways in which these codes have been or can be used to provide recruiting information to prospects and candidates. Some of them include:
- Newspaper/magazine ads — to provide follow-up information that can’t fit in the ad.
- In job postings, social media and blogs — they can provide detailed reference or follow-up information without taking up space.
- Referral cards — they can instantly take a referral to an application site.
- Wall posters/stickers — that can be placed on bulletin boards and even on poles.
- Billboards/signage/on vehicles — QR can work even when the picture is taken from a distance.
- Career fairs and college events — they allow an interested prospect to instantly access additional information without having to wait in line or ask a question.
- In text messages — they can be attached to text messages as a picture or they can be used to send text messages.
- Job alerts/calendar events — individuals can sign up for specific job alert notifications and calendar items can be easily saved on a phone’s calendar.
- Direct mail — they can move an individual directly from a paper letter to the Internet.
- In slides — they can direct you to more detailed information from presentation slides.
- Invitations — they can be used to invite people to join talent communities, and to participate in contests or events.
- In retail outlets/at trade shows/on product packaging — they can convert customers into applicants.
- Bus cards/name tags — they can provide instant detailed information about you.
- On T-shirts — they help send a message that your firm is “cool” (Google used them)
- On resumes — applicants can place them in resumes to show work samples.
There are of course a few downsides related to the use of QR codes. The first is that many recruiters will resist them for no other reason than most recruiters resist any kind of change that involves a new technology. Second, you will most likely get a spotty response from potential candidates because while QR codes have existed for a while, not everyone is familiar with them and others don’t yet have a smart phone with QR reading capability.
Although QR codes won’t solve every recruiting problem, they certainly are a quick, cheap, and flexible way to re-energize and make your non-Internet recruiting information approaches more effective. These codes are particularly effective because they support mobile audiences and that allows individuals to act when they are most excited. Soon QR Codes will be as common as embedded hyperlinks that are only effective within electronic messages.
You can test the effectiveness of QR codes for providing contact information by using your smartphone camera to take a picture of the example at the top of this article, or you can create your own QR codes for free by going to a site like http://goqr.me/.