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‘Apply with LinkedIn’ Is a Double-Edged Sword

by
Lior Shamir
Nov 29, 2012, 5:26 am ET

Image from LinkedIn vs. Indeed: The Apply Button Smackdown, ZipRecruiter Blog

Thanks to the Apply with LinkedIn button, 175 million LinkedIn members are just a click away from applying to any job on the network.

But is this good for recruiting?

Fred Wilson, celebrated venture capitalist who invested in Twitter, Zynga and Foursquare, believes it is:

As the world moves from web to mobile, the idea of one click to do something becomes more powerful. So what does this mean for the job seeker? It means you should get your resume on LinkedIn and Indeed. What does it mean for the employer? It means you should put these one-click apply buttons on your job postings.

I’m not convinced.

The advantage of one-click apply is that more passive candidates — recruiters’ most sought-after cohort — respond to job posts. The disadvantage is that more active candidates, eager but often unqualified for the gig, respond because there’s no downside not to. And this is where one-click apply is flawed: It increases the quantity of applications, not the quality.

So how does LinkedIn — and the recruiting industry at large — preserve a frictionless candidate experience while improving the ratio of qualified-to-unqualified applications? By setting limits on the number of job posts job seekers can apply to.

This is not a far-fetched idea. InMail, for example, LinkedIn’s direct messaging service, is capped at five per month between users who are not connected, with a $29.95/month subscription. I think twice before sending InMails. I don’t waste my quota. Likewise, if LinkedIn were to adopt a disincentive for over-application, job seekers would apply judiciously.

Recruiters: If you remove all the barriers to online job applications, the result will be just that. Applications. Lots of them.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Tony Hogeveen

    In my industry, the candidate pool is typically smaller and more specialized than in others. Therefore, I would take the extra volume of applicants in order to also receive the more passive but qualified candidates.

  2. Jay Silver

    Lior, do you have any data to back up your points or are they merely assumptions? “I’m not convinced.” I guess that means assumptions?

    Also – in the example you’re showing, all of the apply methods require about the same number of clicks. Why are you singling out LinkedIn? It’s not like Apply with LinkedIn significantly reduced the steps required to apply to these jobs.

  3. Ken Schmitt

    Lior, great article and I love seeing another perspective. While I can’t speak to the results coming from the Professional Recruiter tool offered by LI and their “one touch apply button”, I can tell you that LI users seem to do a better job of self-selecting the jobs they apply to. We recently decided to try the $200 paid LI job post for a very specialized position in the financial services industry. Using the LI analytics, we were surprised to see that while over 220 people viewed the job, only 5% clicked through and actually applied. More importantly, every one of those 10 applications was a fit, and 90% were currently employed – the “passive candidates”. While this is only 1 example, I am hopeful that LI’s reputation as a highly professional platform for career management will encourage candidates of all types to apply only to those jobs for which they possess 80%+ of the required criteria. We will see what the future holds.
    Ken Schmitt
    President/Founder, TurningPoint Executive Search
    http://www.turningpointsearch.net

  4. Richard Moore

    I work for a Social Recruiting and Employer Brand Management solutions company called ReqCloud and we allow recruiters to post their existing jobs to LinkedIn for Free and in many cases automatically from their existing ATS systems (Shameless Plug: Recruiters can sign-up for Free at http://reqcloud.com

    We have a One-Click “Apply with LinkedIn” application process on all the jobs.

    This has proven to be highly valuable to all of our users who are now able to tap into the passive candidate pool (over 50% of the workforce). All of our users/recruiters would rather filter any junk out with a few clicks rather than to miss out on great passive candidates, who are now able to apply but otherwise wouldn’t even be remotely interested in a typical job application process.

    It’s almost always better to have a larger pool to pick and choose from as long as you have the proper tools to help with filtering.

  5. Josh Tolan

    Interesting post! If you make it easier to apply for positions you are likely to get more passive candidates, but you’re also more likely to get more candidates in general. That means more under qualified resumes to sort through. It’s hard enough to find candidates with the correct skills to invite to the interview process, whether that interview is in person or through online video. With a deeper candidate pool, you might end up with more great passive candidates but give up additional time you have to spend sorting through the profiles of people who are all wrong for the job. As it’s a newer feature, however, it might be too soon to tell just how effective the instant apply button is for finding top-notch candidates.

  6. Derek Dostal

    I might be missing something but as you state the one click buttons make passive candidates more likely to apply. That alone affects quality positively.

    Now a larger pool certainly does make for more sifting but I do not mind digging through the haystack as long as I know the needle is there!

  7. Luke Antenialle

    Nice post. What is Indeed? Is it some job board?

  8. Martin Snyder

    Apply with LinkedIn right now has a strong value for users because they dont normally store documents on their phones, and there is no easy attachment process for docs on mobile devices, plus it saves the entry of the key contact data too. It’s a great way to get a base profile in, but employers will still likely seek a resume shortly into the process.

    If Google or FB start just storing personal resumes for account owner’s private use, an “attach google resume” feature to grab a file from the cloud somewhere easily, it would offer the identical value, and they will, sooner or later.

    I dont worry too much about LinkedIn because they are always thinking of the short term buck, keeping the most control of the data (for the user’s privacy and protection of course) and generally considering themselves to own the networks they support. Maybe all that will change but it could be in the DNA……

  9. Jay Silver

    @Martin
    “It’s a great way to get a base profile in, but employers will still likely seek a resume shortly into the process.”

    Indeed Apply provides a full resume, and more people are using ‘Indeed Apply’ than ‘Apply with LinkedIn’ in all job categories.

    See Ziprecruiter’s analysis here: http://blog.ziprecruiter.com/2012/07/18/linkedin-vs-indeed-the-apply-button-smackdown/

  10. Martin Snyder

    Jay I sent an email to our product lead about it and he told me they are already working on getting Indeed Apply on the short term roadmap. I was glad to hear it ;-)

  11. Lior Shamir

    @Jay – Mere assumptions. LinkedIn is the benchmark. Facebook may get there. I think Indeed is an exciting company (which Fred WIlson invested in).

    @Ken – Thanks for sharing. I wish I had more data.

    @Derek – The question is, has ‘Apply Now’ functionally increased productivity/success for both recruiters and job seekers?

  12. Lauren Smith

    The theory that a 45-minute application process will naturally weed out unqualified candidates does not hold true. Just because a candidate showed stamina and dedication to apply, doesn’t mean they’re better talent.

    The best candidates will not spend the time filling out a 9-step application. Top talent expect to apply in 60-seconds, and then move on.

  13. Patrick T

    It is a welcome addition that can facilitate the hiring process but overdependence on a one-click function is not going to better the quality of the process; the value added principle of a cover letter is still important, the tailoring of ones cv also – take a self-employed candidate who is interested in a posting, their one-click application is going to hinder them as they will be seen as having other interests that aren’t well aligned with that of the recruiter. Forwarding a LinkedIn profile is fine for a well cemented specialist looking for work in the same role but if one is searching for real talent then one must look beyond the candidates online branding or at least prioritise more articulate applications.

  14. Joshua Hensley

    I agree that the one click feature is nice but it will be abused like anything else letting unqualified applicants apply to any and everything. If Linked in can limit the amount of inmails (I rarely use it) then they can obviously limit the amount of jobs you can apply to in a day, week or month. jmo

  15. Hugh Fordham

    This reminds me of the conversations I had over a decade ago, when the move from paper applications to online was going to make it “too easy” to apply so companies would be flooded with unsuitable applications.

    My answer then, as it is now, is that you do not select through the arduous nature of your application process but rather by targeted marketing, clear messaging and filtering on things that are actually relevant to the job.

  16. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Lauren. I think you’re right on-target. Making the job search and application process longer and harder will not improve the quality- it will reduce the quantity and increase the number of desperate and/or compliant candidates, unless that’s part of the goal… I suggest a way of maximizing both quality AND quantity would be to work very carefully with the hiring managers to create 5 or 6 pull-down menu, multiple-choice questions which clearly relate to the requirements in a non-discriminatory way and can be answered instantly. If the potential applicant passes, then there is a one-click application process. If they don’t, they get a nice “Thank you, look for other positions” Message. This has the advantages of both maximizing the ease and speed of a very broad based (potential) application approach, while maximizing the quality of actual applicants- only pre-qualified individuals can actually apply.

    Cheers,
    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  17. Sylvia Dahlby

    I’m mostly in agreement with Martin on this. We added the “apply with LinkedIn” capability to SmartSearch and find it’s not much different than the Monster shared-apply or integration we offer with CareerBuilder and Indeed where candidate have already stored their resumes/profiles. A lot of LinkedIn users (like me) have NO CURRENT RESUME so it’s just plain convenient. And since our customers are posting/promoting jobs on LinkedIn, it makes sense for those with profiles to use them in lieu of a resume. I have not heard anyone complain the Apply With LinkedIn option has resulted in more quantity and less quality. I am of the opinion that anything that makes it easier for a candidate to apply is a good thing. And as Keith notes, it’s easy enough to take in the resume/profile and then filter candidates via online screening mechanisms & auto-acknowledgement or auto-reject once they click thru.

  18. Steven Yeong

    In time to come, there could be a feature that would red-flag candidates who apply for jobs which are a wrong fit for them based on certain parameters. Specific to the 1-click feature, I think that’s why firms pay recruiters to filter out the millions AND millions of candidates!! (Sorry, been watching re-runs of The ROCK on WWE). To me, its a great feature.

  19. Chris Heron

    We embed recruitment videos directly into adverts so that candidates watch the footage as part of their application, be this a LI apply button or full registration via our site. This way you retain the one click advantage of the LI button but also ask the candidate to self select based on an effortless filtration system.

  20. Ryan Kohler

    We just integrated Apply with Linkedin with ApplicantPRO, and took a different approach to solve the problem talked about here. We work with employers, not recruiters, so they have some different issues that have to be addressed here. #1 is collection of race/gender. Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have this information, and employers over 100 employees who need to be eeo/ofccp compliant or have an affirmative action plan need to collect that on all applicants who apply for a job. #2 our employers ask job screening question of their applicants based on the job being applied for, and this information is not in the LinkedIn profile. So we simply made the “apply with LinkedIn” the first step in a multistage process. It saves the job seeker time by automatically inserting their information from LinkedIn into all of the appropriate fields, and creating a “resume on the fly” for them, but the job seeker stills needs to answer the other questions such as screening questions and race/gender for eeo. Certainly reduces the time it takes for someone to apply (to under 60 seconds in most cases), but gives our employers the information they need to auto screen or filter applicants and to stay compliant.

  21. Jeb Blostleib

    @Ryan – can you show us an example?

  22. Lior Shamir

    @Ryan – I love this approach and I have seen it in action.

  23. Jeb Blostleib

    @Lior – can you provide an example!?

    People talk about these solutions, but then don’t provide any real examples…

  24. Lior Shamir

    @Jeb – I have personally come across this with SmartRecruiters and Jobvite but I would be surprised if any ATS serving SMBs does not provide this level of flexibility.

  25. Jeb Blostleib

    It’s interesting that nobody can provide examples…

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