Productivity Hacks: Note-Taking Special

Note-taking is the thorn in many a Recruiter’s paw. So in previous editions of our Productivity Hacks series, we’ve covered programs that make it less of a hassle.

We’ve featured Clarke.ai before: a tool that takes notes on your conversations without needing to type them up. And we’ve used Evernote for ages at Hunted: it’s a writing platform that allows you to save voice notes, videos, photos and of course standard written entries.

It’s fair to say though that in 2019, voice-enabled technology’s due to come into its own even more as the general public gets increasingly familiar with devices that talk back.

David Limp, SVP of Devices & Services at Amazon revealed in an exclusive with The Verge that more than “100 million devices with Alexa on board have been sold”. It’s an impressive number, but it pales in comparison to the number of smartphones or laptops in the world that have voice-enabled tech built in.

Macs, iPhones and iPads have Apple Dictation. ‘Voice Typing’ is a feature available with Google Docs on Chrome. And Windows 10 Speech Recognition works alongside Cortana on your PC.

If there’s one area voice tech could improve a Recruiter’s day it’s in note-taking. Although this isn’t the only innovation that makes capturing notes less of a hassle. It’s just a sound place to start.

Otter screenshot

Otter.ai

I mentioned Otter briefly in an article asking Should Recruiters Use Robots? While Otter’s not a robot, it does use artificial intelligence to transcribe your spoken conversations.

Hit record. Talk. And watch as it types up what you’re saying with a fair degree of accuracy on the screen in front of you. Once you’re done, you can save the conversation as a recording and read along as it plays back the audio.

During playback, you can edit any words the program’s misheard, add images, and copy whole passages to paste elsewhere. It will even identify individual speakers. Useful for capturing meetings or interviews where multiple people will be talking.

Premium’s ten dollars a month, although you get ten hours of transcription a month using the free version. Try it in browser or sync across the apps in the Play and App stores.

Needed a bit of a tidy, but I transcribed *most* of this article using the free version of Otter.

You should also check out sites like Speechnotes and Dictation. They’re straightforward programs you can visit from any web browser. All you have to do is enable access to the microphone and transcribe away.

pen to print screenshot

Pen To Print

For Consultants that hate the sound of their own voice (yeah, right) and take their notes by hand, this one’s for you. Pen To Print scans your handwritten notes using your phone’s camera and converts what you’ve scribbled down into machine readable text.

The tech works through Optical Character Recognition. It’s the same thing banks use to read paper forms. So you’ll get more errors if it’s illegible.

Once the conversion from handwriting to text’s complete, you can go through line by line to make any edits you need to. Then send the full text to your inbox or Drive.

A huge time saver if you’re writing notes by hand, then typing them up verbatim on your CRM. 

It’s free to download on iOS and Android, but functionality is extremely limited unless you pay for premium.

simplenote screenshot

Simplenote

A genuine challenger to Evernote’s domination over the note-taking app market. And funnily enough, it’s simplicity’s key to that. Simplenote boasts a sparse, clear interface. It actually looks a bit like the notes app on an iPad, and it’s usability’s about as complex: just start typing and you’re off.

Made a change earlier but can’t undo far enough to retrieve your original copy? There’s a ‘Version History’ slider that lets you rewind and fast forward through any changes you’ve made.

Rare that you’d use it but worth mentioning: Simplenote supports Markdown format, which makes formatting WordPress articles to go out from the company blog much easier.

It’s free, and you can get it on pretty much any device with an operating system.

saferoom screenshot

Saferoom

Recruiters have always been protective over the data they process. The notes you take on calls, in meetings and during interviews contain data of varying sensitivities. And in a post-GDPR landscape, it’s more important now than ever that they’re protected.

Saferoom uses the principle of zero-knowledge encryption – basically, none of the notes you take are visible to anyone but you – to encrypt files and add an extra layer of security to any notes you’ve taken.

It’s free to download and integrates with Evernote, OneNote and the Microsoft Office suite. Which means PDFs, CVs and spreadsheets are kept secure at all times too.

Available as either a mobile or desktop app, an Office Add-In or a Chrome extension.

rocketbook screenshot

The Everlast Notebook by Rocketbook

The pages look and feel like paper, but they’re actually made from a polyester composite. You’ll need to get your hands on an erasable pen from the Pilot Frixion line, although these are only a few £s each and you can pick them up online easily.

When the ink from the pen dries, it bonds to the page. When you’re finished, wipe each page clean with a damp cloth and start over.

But before doing so, scan the page using the Rocketbook app and machine vision scans, enhances and shares your page of notes via cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Drive and your email client.

It’s not just written notes: because everything on the page is captured, you can get creative with diagrams and drawings to add an extra dimension to the notes you take.

The Everlast notebook goes for £32.99 on the Rocketbook website.

clickup screenshot

Notepad by Clickup

This is a Chrome extension that turns your browser into a note taking machine. Clickup launches a little purple icon in the bottom corner of your browser window. Like the chatbot icon you get on most company websites now.

It’s a non-invasive way of keeping a digital notepad in front of you, without having to switch platforms constantly.

In the middle of a meaty search and got an idea for a search string to try later? Skimming through industry articles and come up with a great idea for a post? Looking wistfully at who’s hiring on Hunted and need a reminder to pick up cat litter and a bottle of red on your way home?

Get it written down. And if it’s something that requires action, you can turn any note into a task. Bullet points, check lists, a rich text editor: the functionality’s solid for a browser extension.

Clickup’s free to install and comes with unlimited note-taking capacity. 


Note-taking is one area of your day you could do with hacking a little extra efficiency. For others, from wellness to wearables, peep the rest of our Productivity Hacks series