A mobile phone app to improve your employability skills

Apart from honing one’s English, Jobseekers helps an aspirant with various aspects of interview preparation


Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: Paying thousands of rupees to get a professionally made resume or interview tips from an expert or taking elocution classes to land a job? If you are looking for an entry-level job, spending that much money won’t make much sense. What if you could do all this at a fraction of the cost?

Check out Jobseekers by British Council, a mobile application that helps one improve his or her English for employability via mobile phones. The app helps a job candidate prepare for different stages of recruitment, starting from writing a resume to what to wear to an interview.

Launched in October 2012, Jobseekers uses storytelling for teaching. The app includes a series of 90 animated videos, which follow the story of four characters in their search for jobs. It is through these stories that key vocabulary and phrases used in English for employability are taught. The app also provides information on the soft skills needed to land a good job through the stories. The content is mainly aimed at giving tips or generic information regarding the job-seeking process.

“We aimed the product at entry-level job seekers, but the content is good for people who have some experience, or are looking to change jobs, or hone existing skills,” said Amy Lightfoot, English language advisor, British Council Division, British High Commission.

There are five characters—Farah, Neha, Rohit, Arun and Mr. Sharma, who acts as their mentor. Each character is looking for employment in four different sectors—food and retail, hospitality, call centres and Bollywood. “We added Bollywood as an example to tell users that seeking a job is also about following your dreams,” said Lightfoot. The characters are guided on their journey by Mr. Sharma, who gives expert tips and knowledge about job-seeking. “We wanted to give a flavour of different sectors. But the content and learning can be applied widely,” Lightfoot explained.

According to Lightfoot, these four sectors were chosen because they have maximum use of English as a spoken language. Characters were given pan-Indian names to make sure it appeals to people from different regional backgrounds.

The application gives information in four areas: first, useful vocabulary for the workplace; secondly, know-how of writing job applications and CVs; thirdly, how to be successful at job interviews; lastly, developing listening skills.

The difficulty level of the language content is pitched at A2/B1 on the CEFR scale. CEFR refers to common European framework of reference for languages: learning, teaching, assessment.

The content was developed after extensive research. A lot of job ads posted on job sites were combed to understand the kind of requirements and processes in place.

“We looked at the types of CV, not from the UK perspective, but from the Indian context,” Lightfoot said. “We talked to people about why they are not getting jobs, or about the skills they needed to get a job.”

The videos are grouped into 13 units with seven videos in each one (a total of 90 videos). Every seventh lesson is a quiz on the content covered. Each video is approximately 1.5 minutes long and has been optimized for different mobile screens.

Currently, the application is only available on the Android operating system and can be downloaded from Google Play store. The good thing about the app is that it is not bound to an operating system. It can also be downloaded on desktops running Microsoft Windows 7/8/XP/Vista.

Users can also watch these videos on Airtel Classroom. To include the feature phone users, Jobseekers is also available in an IVR (interactive voice response) form. The IVR product is audio only and has bilingual support. So, the dialogues taken from the animated videos are available in both Hindi and English. Each lesson also has a corresponding SMS, which is pushed to the subscriber after the completion of the lesson.

The business model of Jobseekers takes a so-called freemium approach to monetization. The application can be downloaded for free on the mobile. First unit of six videos and a quiz is free but every other lesson a user is charged. A subscriber pays Rs.90 for a pack of 12 additional units, each containing six videos and one quiz.

For the desktop version, there is a one-time cost of Rs.600 for 91 episodes. On Airtel Classroom, Jobseekers can be subscribed via three packages costing Rs.10 for 24 hours’ access, Rs.69 for seven days and Rs.149 for unlimited access.

The IVR product is available at Rs.599 for 78 episodes. Till now, the Android app has been downloaded 13,112 times and for the desktop version, 554 licenses have been sold. No numbers are available for IVR as it was launched recently.

The organization is looking for partnership providing permits for the desktop version to a group engineering colleges in south India. Whatever desktop licenses sold till now are owned primarily by educational institutions.

The developers are also planning to get non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on board for training a large number of people. To complete the process of self-learning and self-access, a workbook will also be released soon. It will comprise examples of resumes, vocabulary related activities and other practical exercises. For desktop users, an e-book format will also be available.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the mBillionth awards.

More From Livemint