By: William Arruda Senior Contributor
QR codes seemed to pop on the scene and disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. After resurging and then waning again, they’re now here to stay, with the potential to revolutionize your personal brand.
The first QR code—a square quick-response image that stores information in pixels—was invented in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary called Denso Wave. They needed accurate ways to track cars and component parts throughout the vehicle assembly process. QR codes are more powerful than the ubiquitous barcodes because they can be read both from top to bottom and left to right, allowing them to store more information.
Rather than make QR codes proprietary, Denso Wave made them publicly available. Despite the benefits and availability, QR codes didn’t take over the world the way some technological advances did. According to cybersecurity company Kaspersky, it wasn’t until 2002, when mobile phones that included QR readers were marketed in Japan, that QR codes became a thing. Since then, QR codes have been used to store everything from website URLs to podcasts and apps. There’s even a UK-based company called QR Memories that created QR codes for gravesites—providing a high-tech way to access information about the deceased person’s life by directing visitors to a website. But QR codes were not by any means essential.
That is, until the pandemic rocked the world. Covid-19 has been responsible for a burst in the visibility and popularity of those powerful pixels. In an effort to make things touchless to reduce the spread of the virus, the QR code has been used by a range of organizations, from restaurants wanting paperless menus to labs offering on-site registration for Covid-19 testing. So we’re all getting used to seeing those cryptic square symbols again, whether we’re feasting at our favorite diner or checking out movie posters and retail store windows. And when we do that, we’re also supplying information. According to Beerud Sheth, CEO of the conversational AI platform Gupshup, “Businesses across all industries are now using QR codes to direct customers to chatbots that can communicate with them and gather data on what they’re consuming.”
And so the QR code may not only be having a comeback, it may be here to stay. And that got me wondering: How can career-minded professionals use QR codes to enhance their personal brand and connect more deeply with their stakeholders? One of the benefits for early adopters is that using a QR code for your career is innovative. And things that are novel stand out. Of course, once everyone is doing it, your edge is gone. So if “innovative” is one of your brand attributes, here’s where QR codes can fit into your career advancement strategy.
On career marketing materials.
Use QR codes to point reviewers of your cover letter and resume to your LinkedIn profile or other sites on the web where you demonstrate what makes you great. That is, of course, if you are sending physical (or PDF) resumes to prospective employers. At career fairs when you’re there in person, they’ll be extra helpful. Sending a thank-you note via snail mail is a good idea because it stands out from the sea of emails we get every day. A QR code on your note could link the hiring manager to a reminder of who you are and what makes you great or to a page that has a special message of thanks and appreciation.
At conferences and networking events.
Yes, as unlikely as it seems, there will once again be in-person networking events, trade conferences and meetings. To make it easy to stay connected with those you meet, use a QR code to direct them to your website or your LinkedIn profile. You could include QR codes on your business cards or name badge. And if you’re really ambitious, add them to your clothing or briefcase/messenger bag. It will be a functional and fun way to get the conversation started.
When you’re delivering a presentation, add a QR code on your slides where audience members can get more information about the topic you’re discussing or get connected to your social media sites so they can follow you. For online presentations, use QR codes to point your audience to polls, so they can open them on their phones and not have to swap back and forth between the presentation and the poll window on their laptops.
Luckily, URL shorteners like bit.ly are automatically generating QR codes as part of their service to shorten and brand URLs—yet another sign that this time, the QR code may be here to stay.
Read the original article from Forbes HERE.