JobLens was unveiled earlier this month and is the result of a joint collaboration between Nokia and UK tech startup Entrepreneur First. The app is designed to build on the augmented reality technology used in Nokia's Here location service to offer users a dynamic display of what jobs are available in their immediate area.
Powering up JobLens on a Nokia Lumia 925, the app requires you to link it to your LinkedIn or Facebook account. It's important to note that doing so lets the app access a host of information and metadata on you and those concerned with privacy would do well to read the user agreement before simply clicking yes.
Once the accounts are linked the app takes a few minutes to siphon through the data before booting to its central user interface. Here you can add further criteria to your job search, including the distance you're willing to travel from your current location, what salary you're looking for, and what title and industry you're interested in.
Then the app pulls up a horizontal list of the jobs in your area. From here you can click on one of the jobs or click one of two shortcut icons at the bottom of the app's UI. The bottom-left shortcut takes you to the augmented reality display. Here jobs that match your search criteria are displayed on screen the same way they are on City Lens, the augmented reality service debuted on the Nokia Lumia 920 designed to offer users dynamic information about their surroundings. Jobs appear as small rectangles with captions showing the company, title and office's distance from you. The closer the job is to your current location the larger the caption box.
The second shortcut key on the bottom right takes you to a maps page highlighting your location and the jobs around you. The jobs on offer were fairly impressive, with our basic search for a reporter position paying over £20,000 pulling up a host of positions, many of which were relevant.
A quick search on a few industry-specific job sites also proved that JobLens was very thorough, with it proving the exception rather than the norm for there to be a position missing from the app. This is thanks to its integration with the Indeed jobs search engine, which collates information from thousands of companies' career sites to offer a comprehensive list of what roles are available.
Testing JobLens on our way home from work, we were also impressed. Starting in London's media hub Soho we were overloaded with potential jobs, with pretty much every corner we turned resulting in a fresh flood of potential roles. Moving towards the less media-rich Deptford, this sea began to decline into a trickle as we passed South Bank before fully drying up when we hit Surrey Quays, where all the jobs on display came up as tiny blobs in the distance rather than bold captions, as they had done in central London.
While we can't see many top execs taking advantage of JobLens' augmented reality display to find roles – imagine Steve Ballmer wandering London looking for his next CEO position after Microsoft – we can see its potential use for younger people. For example, I still remember the hours spent during my student days scouring every corner of London and dropping my CV off at any bar or restaurant I could find. In this situation I can see JobLens being a massive help, with its augmented reality display letting me see all the local establishments that need part-time employees in the immediate area without having to do a series of web searches.
We'll also be heading over to Tech City in London next week to test out Job Lens there and see if we're bombarded with lots of suitable roles at tech startups in the area.
JobLens is also designed to help you apply for jobs once you've found them. Clicking on a job's caption pulls up a more detailed description of the role. If you're still interested you can click on a "more" icon at the bottom, which takes you to the job's Indeed page using Internet Explorer, where further details about how to apply are hosted.
The app also allows you to create or upload a CV, however this requires you to grant it access to your Microsoft SkyDrive account. Sadly there is currently no support for competing cloud storage services like Google Drive, which will be a serious shortcoming for people who use Google Mail as their primary email client. Loading a CV also requires you to agree to yet another set of fairly intrusive privileges, including letting JobLens edit documents stored on your SkyDrive account, so again be warned: it is worth reading what you're agreeing to before clicking yes.
For those who don't want to laboriously search for roles using keywords, JobLens also has intelligent Recommendations and My Network features. Recommendations pulls jobs based on past searches you've done, while My Network uses information stored on your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to collate roles at companies where people you're connected to work. While the search results on both services yielded a few too many PR roles for our liking, this is probably more of a testament to the media industry in the UK than a failing on JobLens' search algorithms.
Overall, this means that while we're not convinced that JobLens' augmented reality features are going to be of use to most professionals, its social and recommendations features definitely will be. Our only real qualm with the app is its fairly draconian permissions: it requires you to hand over vast amounts of your personal data to work, a concession that could prove a serious issue to some professionals.
JobLens is available now exclusivley on Nokia's Lumia range of Windows Phone 8 smartphones.