Building on the success of its existing job search and job training programs, the Queens Library recently began testing a new touch-screen job search kiosk at its central branch in Jamaica, Queens. The kiosk is driven by Apploi, a mobile app launched in April 2013 by recruitment software and services provider Innovate CV, and is fully funded and serviced by InnovateCV subsidiary Jobs4Five. Queens Library patrons can create a “passport” profile with essential resume information; search for job openings using a variety of filters including location, company, industry, posting date, keywords, or job titles; and record video responses to questions provided by specific employers, which are then included as part of their application. The kiosks can also be used for real-time video interviews.
Applicants and employers “don’t have to wait a week or two weeks for an interview” after submitting an application. “They can do it right then and there,” explained Joanne King, director of communications for Queens Library.
The Apploi app is free to download and use on iPhones and iPads, and currently targets positions in the restaurant, retail, and hospitality industries, primarily in New York City. However, in the year since it launched, listings have expanded to 15 U.S. cities, as well as London, Bangkok, Copenhagen, and Nairobi, Kenya. More than 800 companies are currently posting job listing using Apploi, including corporations such as Adidas, Bath & Body Works, Hilton, Westfield, Sephora, and Red Lobster.
The prototype kiosk allows people who do not own an iPad or iPhone to access the app. Branch staff are on hand to assist applicants with the app, job search advice, and resume and Apploi “passport” tips. The library is even keeping a few neckties on hand to loan to patrons who will be recording video responses or participating in interviews.
“[Apploi] wanted to reach out to people who don’t have their own technology; that’s how the development of the kiosk came about,” King said. “Queens Library has a very well-developed and growing Job and Business Academy. [Apploi] had been hearing news about that, and reached out to us about being [the first library] pilot site.”
With the pilot less than a month old, King said that it is too early to gauge placement success rate, but noted that many patrons seem pleased with the service.
“I think it is a success, in that customers who are using it are finding it to be a lot of fun and simple to use,” she said. “They like the instantaneous contact with the employer, and the ability to know that these are real job ads.”
Adam Lewis, CEO of InnovateCV and Apploi, told LJ that the app was designed to streamline the application and hiring process for both employers and job seekers.
With service industry jobs in particular, “such a huge component of the job market involves people going from store to store, giving out traditional resumes, waiting in line at open recruitment events,” he said. “The whole thing is just kind of inefficient, and hasn’t really progressed in the same way that professional recruitment has done. I saw this as a massive opportunity to really help people connect to jobs.”
The video component also enables candidates to stand out in ways that they simply could not with a paper resume, giving a recruiter a glimpse of their personality or fluency in a second language, for example. These are qualities and skills that, for service industry employers, could override concerns about inexperience or a long stretch of unemployment.
Of course, job seekers can’t access the app without the right device. In order to expand access to the app beyond smartphone and tablet owners, InnovateCV and Apploi have partnered with organizations such as America Works to install kiosks in their job centers. And, four months ago, the company launched its “One for One” program—every time Apploi sells a kiosk to a retailer or commercial organization, they give one away to an organization dedicated to providing their community with job search assistance or access to technology. The first beneficiary of the new program was the community organization BronxWorks, which received a kiosk in December 2013.
Early results indicate that libraries could be excellent non-profit partners as well. With 100 job applications already submitted through the test kiosk since its launch less than four weeks ago, Apploi is viewing this pilot as a success. “It seems like a natural partnership,” Lewis said, later noting that Apploi plans to install free kiosks in two more Queens branches next month. “Then, we will focus on libraries across the country.”