5 Apps to Hone Your Competitive Advantage

Looking for a job over 50 is no small feat. Employers want to know how you think and if you understand the big picture based on what is relevant in business today and what is coming next that may impact business. Practicing a forward-thinking mindset can help you stand out from the crowd, but how will you find the time to stay abreast of it all? With the help of some key apps, building a forward thinking advantage doesn't have to be a full-time job.

These five free apps are some of the secret weapons in my personal branding toolbox to help me learn from thought leaders and stay informed of societal trends shaping business decisions. (Since this list is part of our competitive advantage, let's just keep this little secret to ourselves, ok?)

Aggregating Trends & News: FlipBoard
Thanks to FlipBoard, there's no need to go hunting for the news that is relevant to you. This app goes deep to aggregate news you care about and feeds it to you daily. It's a bit like Christmas morning each day as you discover stories about your chosen topics from websites you didn't know existed. Using this app may not only help you be the best informed job candidate, it may also give you a wealth of content to share with your network with the touch of a Twitter or LinkedIn icon so you can become a source of interesting news to your followers.

SuperCharge Your Brilliance: Podcasts
Imagine you had the ability to transport to a variety of speaking events featuring the top thought leaders in the world. With podcasts, you don't need a teleporter or a travel budget. Using the Podcast icon on your phone, you can search for podcasts to subscribe to and listen to them at your convenience. In addition to subscribing to podcasts related to your industry or those focused on job search tips, consider subscribing to some podcasts that will boost your knowledge of trends in society that may contribute to the brilliance you'll share on an interview. I recommend Aspen Ideas, TED Radio Hour, the BBC's Global News Podcast, Inc Uncensored, IDEO Futures, and The James Altucher Show. I listen to them on my commute. You never know where the next big idea or inspiration will come from.

Expert Tips: Google Mail
Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past year or so, you've likely been invited to download free ebooks, attend informative webinars, and receive must-have checklists and the like, all for the low, low price of your email address. Online coaching businesses have been soaring. If there's a topic you are interested in learning, there's likely at least one expert who is teaching about it online. Usually, there are dozens. The best experts to follow are the ones with whom you feel most comfortable.

Don't be shy. Sign up freely, knowing that most of these online coaches will send free tips and information to your Google inbox. (You don't have to use Google, but it does reflect well on you over yahoo. If you don't find the subsequent emails useful after all, you can unsubscribe at any time. (You can get started by downloading a copy of my free guide for building an all-star LinkedIn profile.)

Commuters' Delight: Audible
Most thought leaders in business have published a book. If the idea of curling up with a good business book in bed doesn't sound enticing to you, opt for the digital audio-recorded version instead. It works by purchasing audio books on amazon.com and then using the Audible app to listen to the books. The monthly fee entitles you to a credit for a book each month. My top choices for what to read right now: Under New Management by David Burkus, Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best by Srinivas Rao, and Die Empty by Todd Henry. These books will get you on your way to understanding the philosophy of forward thinking and empowering yourself for a career that stays relevant for years to come.

INfluencers: LinkedIn Pulse
Part of being a forward thinker is keeping your finger on the pulse of what business thought leaders are saying. With the LinkedIn Pulse app, you can do just that. You may already have downloaded the LinkedIn app, but its companion apps help you dive deeper into the medium's features, including Pulse. Download the LinkedIn Pulse app to easily access articles written by LinkedIn INfluencers and those you are connected to on LinkedIn. Block 15 minutes daily on your calendar to browse your news feed and to share the most insightful post of the day with your network.

Also, don't miss the other LinkedIn apps such as LinkedIn Groups, Lynda, and SlideShare. The more you use LinkedIn, the more it will get your profile seen. Better yet, consider posting a piece between 500-800 words to your LinkedIn profile and the Pulse team may just help get more viewers for it if they think it has something new for its audience.

Just incorporating any one of these apps into your routine will improve your business learning in ways most pros overlook. Be prepared to wow hiring managers at your next job interview and to contribute more creative solutions on the job.

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