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I don't have a mobile phone and rely on my laptop to be contactable. My experience is I'm not much less contactable, because I'm seldom away from my laptop for more than an hour at a time (unless I'm asleep), and I respond to emails/ Facebook messages / Skype calls etc quickly. The only real disadvantage I've found is when I'm moving around with no access to an internet connection, but even that can be worked around - after all people did that all the time before the advent of mobile phones.

Not having to pay for the phone's data plans has saved me thousands of dollars over the years; however many people keep telling me I should get one because of how indispensable it is, including in job searches.

Does not having a mobile phone disadvantage me in the job market?

Re country: I'm not keen to say which country it is (especially since I might move around in the future), but it's one in which most people have mobile phones, and there are no prepaid cards (the kind where I pay $10 for ___ megabytes of data and can use it until it runs out, when I top up another $10 -- which is the only kind of plan that makes financial sense for me given my usage).

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Mar 19 at 11:32
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    A quick claryfing question. Do you have any form of phone number that you can be called using phone? Or do you assosiate mobile phone with a phone number that also give you ability to use the internet? – SZCZERZO KŁY Mar 19 at 12:53
  • @SZCZERZOKŁY right now, I have neither. When I wrote this question I was thinking more of the latter than the former, since the former is easily changed. – Allure Mar 19 at 19:19
  • Your experience that you're "not much less contactable" might be skewed: how would you know someone can't contact you unless they have successfully contacted you and told you so? – spuck Mar 19 at 21:07
  • @spuck because the last time I had a mobile phone number, the number of phone calls I received the entire year was one. – Allure Mar 19 at 22:19
48

The answer is YES and I will answer it from the recruiters side.

You don't have a phone NUMBER. Recruiters don't care if you answer the call on latest Pear XII with Swarovski crystals or a 10 year old Nokia. Additional edit: I also have no idea if you answer, when I call your NUMBER, with a smart fridge, laptop or tablet. You can have an internet connection trough a sim card that you insert into laptop. Which also have a phone number in it. And you can use it to make calls and recive them using app.
I had notebook smaller than "phablets". And they can be used for the same purposes.

So a mobile phone, as a device, is not an advantage if you have it or not. Because no one cares. IF you can do basic things that are expected. And the basic thing that people expect is to have X set of digits I can put in my rotary phone and call you. My desktop phone cannot do skype calls (it require businnes to have skype which they might not want to use and pay for), facebook messenger (it require an account, and how many HR company account there might be?), I cannot write an email on it.

They see they cannot reach you easily. The one of advantage of having a phone number is when someone is calling you and you are: talking, not answering the phone, out of range THEY will get notified. And you will get notified.

When you are not answering Skype you are not answering Skype. Rude.

Second thing, your reasoning is not visible to recruiters. But ANY reason to not have number shows one thing: how averse you are to problem solving and/or how badly you move with current technology.

Almost everyone in the comments pointed out that "thousands saved" is not right. And recruiters think exactly that. You can do the research.

You don't use VoIP numbers (yes, there are fields where using cell phones is prohibited but using laptop is not).

As much as I don't like using phones, I understand the need to use them in the recruiting process. And a recruiter looking at the lack of this type of communication will see a problem. No one wants to solve a problem BEFORE first contact. You're giving them the stick while everyone else (other candidates CV) is giving them carrots.

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    "You don't have a phone NUMBER" - this is the key I think. If they had a number then the answer would be "NO" not "YES". I've gone through periods when I've chosen not to use a mobile phone, but then I've compensated for that by adding a phone number to my Skype account and putting that on my CV. In my experience, recruiters like to call and chat rather than send emails. Conversely, in-house HR department recruiters seem to prefer emails. (data point of one! :D ) – Aaron F Mar 19 at 9:55
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    OP never says anything about not having a phone number, just a mobile phone. Landlines are still a thing. – Chronocidal Mar 19 at 11:01
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    @Chronocidal Quite wrong, OP specifically said: and rely on my laptop to be contactable. But then if OP will simply get a skype number and pass that as phone, no one will even know he doesn't have a mobile phone, so who cares, then it's a no-issue. – Tymoteusz Paul Mar 19 at 11:21
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    @SZCZERZOKŁY OP doesn't say that there is no way to call him. In fact, OP specifically mentions the ability to take Skype calls, but doesn't mention whether or not they have a Skype number or other VoIP system set up (where I live, you can get free VoIP numbers for incoming calls, and only pay for outgoing calls). The only thing we explicitly know is that they don't have a mobile phone. – Chronocidal Mar 19 at 12:23
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    @SZCZERZOKŁY OP has specifically stated the scenario of not having an Internet Connection, in which case Skype and VoIP would be unavailable. The advantage then would be still having a connection or ability to receive calls/texts/emails. (And I'm not sure what point you were supposed to be making with "VoIP are not exlusive to skype. Skype calls are exclusive to skype." - I clearly mentioned both how to use Skype for VoIP, and the existence on non-Skype VoIP services, to have a phone number for calls) – Chronocidal Mar 19 at 12:49
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I'm going to assume you're not a gig economy worker, a restaurant worker, or a hospital worker. For these types of jobs, you do usually need a phone.

My recommendation would be for you to get yourself a Google Voice telephone number. It's free. And if you list that number as your mobile phone for potential employers, it won't make you stand out.

Google Voice can send/receive text messages. You can call back through it. Plus, it can transcribe voice mails and send those transcripts to you immediately via email. Even if you had a cell phone, Google Voice is convenient because it allows you to screen calls from recruiters while at work.

With that said, don't underestimate the usefulness of an actual cell phone. If you're away from your computer and need to find an address. If you're meeting someone and that person is nowhere to be found. If you're waiting for a bus, but for some reason, no bus is coming. There are a million and one reasons a cell phone could make life easier for you.

And if your income is low enough, there is a federal program in the US called Lifeline that will allow you to get a cell phone for free with free texting and with a limited number of free minutes.

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  • In which countries does Google Voice work? – TRiG Mar 19 at 10:45
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    @TRiG, It's only in the US right now. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 19 at 11:24
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    Why does a restaurant worker need a cellphone? – Barmar Mar 19 at 14:09
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    @Barmar, Let's say a restaurant worker calls in sick one morning just as their shift is about to begin. A manager may call his other employees that same morning, even waking them up if he has to. That's one reason those workers "usually need" a phone. Or let's say a restaurant worker is late one morning because of public transportation. That same manager may try him to call him on his cell phone to find out how late he's going to be. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 19 at 15:01
  • Land lines will usually work except for the employee stuck in transportation. That's more of an exceptional situation than a regular part of the job, and hardly specific to restaurant workers. – Barmar Mar 19 at 15:05
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Conforming to social norms is important, for a number of reasons beyond the scope of this Q&A. Not having a mobile phone at all in 2020 is a massive red flag about being "an outsider". Not everybody needs expensive clothes, gadgets or cars, musical tastes are always different, etc. But a mobile phone? It doesn't matter what the model is, you do need a mobile phone and you need to list its number in your contact information. It's simply not worth it to put yourself at a disadvantage just to spare 1000 per year.

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    1000 a year my Moto g costs me about 10 a month – Neuromancer Mar 18 at 22:10
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    1000 a year is a massive overspend. – Gregory Currie Mar 18 at 23:24
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    "Not having to pay for the phone's data plans has saved me thousands of dollars over the years", I assume the OP is from the US, looking at monthly plans closer to $100 than to $10. – Monoandale Mar 18 at 23:58
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    "thousands over the years", in places like Europe you can save "thousands over the years" by not changing laptop every year. – Monoandale Mar 19 at 0:07
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    Yep, you want to be weird expect it to reflect weirdly on you, I don't even understand the 1000.... I rarely top my mobile up.... I don't ring out..... phone cost me $45.... lucky if I spend $50 a year on it in topups – Kilisi Mar 19 at 4:01
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It depends on the conversation, the job, the agent, recruiter, HR, employer and other circumstances. Many people prefer to speak via phone than email, instant message or Skype.

Generally speaking, you should try to avoid giving causes, reasons or excuses to agents or employers to view you negatively. If they find it easier to talk with your competition than with you, your competition's chances are improved and yours are diminished. We can only speculate about the extent of that but, all else being equal, it seems reasonable to suppose the person with the mobile phone will get the opportunity.

If recruiters etc indicate a preference to speak with you via phone, it seems wise to facilitate that preference and in many countries that doesn't require a data plan - you might be able to get a PAYG sim and inexpensive phone. If you can't get PAYG, perhaps you can view the cost of subscription (say 10 USD a month?) as an investment in a better job.

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    In the US, the cheapest is $25 per month (unless he qualifies for Lifeline service). – Stephan Branczyk Mar 19 at 0:05
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    @StephanBranczyk non-smart phone, you can get $9 a month. Not a lot of minutes but it gives you a way for initial contact and brief calls (or 1 interview I guess). One cam probably find something for 7 a month. 1000 texts for ankthe $5 an month. – Damila Mar 19 at 1:00
  • @Damila, Do you have a name or a link? Between introductory rates and taxes. And with endless unwanted robocalls every day, I hope that they don't try to nickle and dime you on the way they increment their minutes, or on the time it takes for robocalls to leave you messages on your voice mail, or on the time it takes you to check your voice mail. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 19 at 4:29
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    The cost now seems moot as the questioner has since said "I would not get a phone even if the plans cost $10/month". – Lag Mar 19 at 8:27
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    for a lot of recruiters it will be more than a preference to speak with you on a phone, they will always demand to have a voice chat with you (some even have it as requirements from the person hiring) and if they don't have a microphone for their work computers, they aren't going to pay 10$ to interview you when the next candidate is free and has a phone. – J.Doe Mar 19 at 12:59
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The norm of the comments / answers thus far seems to be: "Why not get a cheap X-phone" and "you really should have a mobile in this day and age".

While I understand the current consensus, I see your side as well.

The norm is that everyone nowadays has a mobile, and actually having a land-line connection is out-of-the-norm right now.

That said, I cannot fathom why not having a mobile would be a big issue. Of course, it's annoying that you miss a lot of calls (from anyone, not just potential employers) and you're always the one returning calls. (If I called you twice and you didn't pick up, I wouldn't call a 3rd time - and after you returned that call I might never call again, instead send a message to give me a ring).

Apart from calls, a lot of messages are done in text-form nowadays. Depending on the business you're in though, having a mobile might actually be a requirement. For example, if you're in sales and are in contact a lot with customers, then yes: you need one. If you're in IT development, meh, Slack is plenty. Or WhatsApp. Or Teams. Or ... whatever.

So... while I'm not giving you an answer either way (you've not divulged your industry), my advice would be what others have also said: get a cheap as phone to answer calls with. Maybe get a VOIP number linked to Skype or Google Voice/Hangouts or something. (The phone for actually answering when someone calls)

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    "I cannot fathom why not having a mobile would be a big issue." Probably not. But at least in the hiring phase, it can be seen as a disadvantage. It may be the difference between getting a call from a recruiter or not. – Gregory Currie Mar 18 at 23:29
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    A bit confused by this answer... you say you can't fathom why not having a mobile is an issue, then list all the reasons it will be an issue... – Shadowzee Mar 19 at 0:47
  • @GregoryCurrie The recruiter is not going to know if the number you list is a mobile phone, a Google Voice number, or your grandma's landline. All that matters is that you can answer if called. – lambshaanxy Mar 19 at 3:00
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    @lambshaanxy Well, that may be the case for the US, but it's not everywhere. But my main point was that with a mobile you are almost always reachable. – Gregory Currie Mar 19 at 5:09
  • @Shadowzee what are all the reasons for one that I list? The only 2 things I list are: missing a lot of calls and having to call back (annoying for the caller) and being in a business like sales or marketing. The apps I list later are perfectly fine on a computer or in a browser and do not require a phone. The last paragraph I advise to simply have the cheapest available so you can pick up a call. – rkeet Mar 19 at 7:14
1

A sizable number of modern systems and channels - both work-related and not - use 2-factor-authentication for additional security, in the form of One Time Passwords (OTPs). Notable examples include Banks, or certain email providers.

Less common - but still present - examples would include some job-search sites requiring 2FA (limiting the jobs you can find to apply for), some jobs that require additional background checks to be carried out may also require the same at that point (limiting the jobs you actually can apply for or be accepted in), and other jobs may have similar requirements for you to access their HR systems and get paid. This will depend on what industry you work in - fast-food workers are less likely to have this issue than Bankers or Security staff. Waiting staff are unlikely to require it in regular restaurants, but may in more upmarket areas with a more exclusive clientele.

Some of these will allow you to use email for the OTP. Some of them will provide hardware tokens with time-based passcodes. And others may require that the OTP sent to you via text message.

While I would hope that most of the systems you encounter allow you to use a different route (e.g. email), it may not always be possible - if only for the fact that you may not have access to email or internet at the time you require the One Time Password. Some job-search sites, job application forms or even online-delivery firms and taxi companies (to get to interviews) require a mobile number for them to send updates to as a mandatory field in their sign-up process

So, there are disadvantages not just in the job market, but in normal life too - you would have to weigh up how likely you are to encounter those scenarios.

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    How is this answer relevant to job searches? – Allure Mar 19 at 11:25
  • @Allure Because some job-search sites will require 2FA (limiting the jobs you can find to apply for), some jobs that require additional background checks to be carried out may also require the same at that point (limiting the jobs you actually can apply for or be accepted in), and other jobs may have similar requirements for you to access their HR systems and get paid. It will depend on what industry you work in. – Chronocidal Mar 19 at 11:30
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    Probably add that to your answer then. Right now it's reading like an argument for "why you should get a mobile phone". – Allure Mar 19 at 11:34
  • @Allure Apologies, I had felt some of the implications were clearer than they may have been. I have edited the post for a more explicit emphasis on the job market. – Chronocidal Mar 19 at 11:46

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