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A thumbnail guide to free job-hunting apps

Online job boards and websites have made finding job prospects easier than ever. It stands to reason that the next generation of job search tools – mobile career-finding apps – should make your hunt smoother. We test-drive five free apps.

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The convenience factor is what led Donna Harris, a Toronto-based communications specialist, to begin road testing job-finding apps a couple of years ago. She fell in love with Indeed.com, an app that stores her searches, uses an algorithm to provide suggestions of positions she should apply for and has healthy mix of private and public sector offerings.

“The most important thing is that results are relevant and useful,” she said. “And there’s the convenience. I hate to admit it, but it allows me to search for jobs without booting up a computer.”

Here’s a look at five free apps that specialize in Canadian job content. If you’re on the market, some are definitely worth downloading. Others, not so much.

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JobAware
This free app is compatible with Apple devices (optimized for iPhone 5) and encourages you to “Jump right in. Start searching for your dream job.” Is your dream job somewhere in their database of 122,000 Canadian postings? It’s reasonably easy to find out with customizable searches that allow you to narrow the field to jobs that are “near you” (works if your device is GPS-enabled) or within a specified distance range or city.

The app can filter jobs by city with the most jobs per capita, or by keyword search. It’s also loaded with other career-boosting resources, including résumé and cover letter help, negotiation tips and a salary comparison chart organized by occupation – but figures are U.S. dollars.

It syncs with LinkedIn; has a notes feature for each tracked job and has an array of full and part-time, internship, freelance and contract work. Postings include both private and public sector jobs.

Our verdict: Worth the space on your screen.

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Monster
In the realm of career-finding apps, this one is the fairest of them all. Monster gets points for its attractive interface, which is light years ahead of most other apps we tried.

It also has a number of useful search filters that other apps are lacking, including filtering by posting date, job type, career level, education level and geographic radius. It also has all the bells and whistles one could ask for: push notifications for new jobs that fit your prescribed criteria, a function that allows you to apply for jobs right away or save and apply for them later, and the ability to set e-mail job alerts.

There’s cover letter and résumé help, and Facebook syncing. However, users have complained about outdated postings and trouble with software functionality.

Our verdict: Worth a shot.

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WowJobs.ca
Not as slick as JobAware, this Canadian app launches with a prompt to enter search criteria by job title, employer or skill, narrowed by city, province or postal code. A search for all jobs in Toronto returned more than 23,000 entries; a search for ‘lawyer’ jobs in Toronto culled 369 possibilities from websites across Canada, ranging from a Legal Aid Ontario posting to intellectual property expert at a larger firm.

Its search function can be temperamental. For example, attempts to search for all jobs in Calgary, resulted in the app narrowing the search to Calgary Board of Education several times in a row (there are more than 300 for anyone in that market). To apply, the user has to click through to the poster’s website.

There aren’t many bells and whistles (especially compared to JobAware) but it does what one iTunes reviewer said: “It’s good at what it does – gets you large and detailed listings of jobs from a number of sources you won’t find otherwise.”

Our verdict: Worth downloading if you can stomach the clunky design.

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Indeed.com
This app, also optimized for iPad, culls thousands of jobs from Canadian companies and job posting boards from around the Web. It claims to offer access to millions of jobs from thousands of companies and its search results don’t disappoint.

A query for a “project engineer” returned literally hundreds of jobs. Like other apps in the category, to apply for a job the user has to click through to the company website where the original posting lives, which can be annoying on a smartphone.

Searches are not customizable by region – narrowing to Interior B.C. or Southern Ontario would be helpful for users scrolling through long lists. Reviewers were angered recently when the app began picking up jobs from Kijiji.ca message boards (posting titles can be misleading) and outdated postings are generally an issue for app users.

Our verdict: Download if you’re a patient and motivated job seeker.

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Canadian Job Force
Like other apps, this one allows you to refine your search by job title, company name or keyword, as well as location or postal code. It also has e-mail alerts users can set up.

What it’s lacking is a solid base of Canadian jobs. Some searches return U.S. results when Canada was clearly specified in the search terms.

Unlike other apps, this one does offer a list of videos and articles on everything from networking for the unemployed to how to get one’s dream job.

Our verdict: Take a pass.

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