Quick Response Codes Appear on More Resumes


By Pamela Babcock December 6, 2011

Tech-savvy job seekers increasingly are putting quick response (QR) codes on resumes. The codes are small, square black-and-white barcodes containing links to information that can be interpreted by a smart phone application.

Whether HR will benefit remains to be seen.

“Like anything else, we need to think about their use from the recruiter’s end and the applicant’s end,” said Katherine Jones, principal analyst and director of human capital management for Bersin & Associates in Oakland, Calif. “Cool for the sake of cool doesn’t usually get us too much.”

A scanned QR code can download a variety of things, including text, audio, video, documents, photographs and maps. They can connect to social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Code readers and generators can be downloaded for free.

Mick Winter, author of Scan Me: Everybody’s Guide to the Magical World of QR Codes (Westsong Publishing, 2011), said he’s not surprised.

“QR codes are just starting to leak into the public consciousness,” said Winter, of Napa, Calif. “And I don’t see any reason why they won’t be huge to the point that they do become part of our normal lives.”

Damon Lovett, an HR systems consultant with Baylor Healthcare System in Dallas and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Technology and HR Management Special Expertise Panel, said many recruiters aren’t seeing the value “when they see a QR code.”

“With large applicant pools and leaner HR departments, most sourcing is still done by parsing resume text provided in the online application process” into an applicant tracking system, said Lovett, who begins a tenure on the International Association for Human Resource Information Management’s (IHRIM’s) board of directors in January 2012. But, he added, he does see how a hiring manager in marketing or IT might find it relevant—if the applicant gets that far in the interview process.

Gerrit Hall, co-founder and CEO of RezScore, a web app that analyzes resumes, agreed, adding that QR code usage on resumes “depends on the position, the industry and most importantly, the employer.”

Hall added that “while QR codes are picking up notoriety, they’re still a niche tool. Will every employer who sees the QR code on your resume use it? No. Will every employer who sees the QR code on your resume know what it is? No.”

Who Is Using Them?

QR codes were invented in Japan in 1994 by Denso Wave Inc., a Toyota subsidiary, to track inventory. Construction companies use them to track large inventory items, like cranes, fleets of dump trucks and large support beams, said Philadelphia-based David Davis, an Android software engineer who writes computer code for companies whose software uses QR codes on Android devices. They’re used frequently in marketing—particularly because one can track how many times a code is scanned. Some people have QR code tattoos. In Japan, QR codes on tombstones enable visitors to view a video about the deceased, Winter said. At U.S. airports, they can be used in lieu of paper boarding passes.

Tina Kashlak Nicolai, PHR, an Orlando, Fla.-based HR and talent management marketing strategist, said the codes are popular among marketing, technology and engineering candidates. Some link to an online resume, an “About Me” page or a video.

“Using QR codes says, ‘I am current, plugged in to social media and forward- thinking,’ ” Nicolai said. “This saves the HR manager time very early on in determining a potential ‘culture fit’ with the organization.”

Not So Fast?

Jones said she has no doubt that QR codes are becoming more mainstream, but said there’s no need to rush out and buy the recruiting staff smart phones because there’s no proof that the codes will benefit HR or the applicant. One concern is the quality of what’s behind the QR code.

“Does it go to a YouTube video of a wild party that shows how wild I am? Or does it go to a LinkedIn profile or a website?” Jones said. “You need to know where you are going before you click on anything.”

Pamela Babcock is a freelance writer based in the New York City area.

Related Resources:

Code generator: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Readers for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices


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