The "Apply With LinkedIn" Button Will Not Disrupt HR Industry

By increasing the volume of "spray-and-pray" candidates, is LinkedIn really helping the hiring process?

I heart job offers T-shirt

LinkedIn is poised to offer a new service, "Apply with LinkedIn," reported GigaOm yesterday. The idea behind the feature, reportedly set to launch later this month, is to streamline the jobs application process. Employers would include a plug-in on their jobs webpage. Click on that, and LinkedIn would prompt you to sign in, choose what info to send over, and possibly answer additional questions—if the employer would like to know if you can relocate, say, or if you're currently eligible to work in the U.S. (LinkedIn has not confirmed the product.)

Many people think that LinkedIn is up to something brilliant here. "Personal branding guru" Dan Schawbel predicts an end to job boards, and the resume itself—"companies will expect you to be on LinkedIn and if you're not, then you can't apply for jobs!" he writes.

We're more circumspect. An "Apply with LinkedIn" will certainly make it easier for larger volumes of applicants to apply for jobs. But that's all it does. To a certain extent, LinkedIn is supposed to be about simulating the world of connections, of schmoozing, of wheeling-and-dealing—the sorts of activities that so often result in business deals or job offers. But "Apply with LinkedIn" leverages none of that (though after you apply, writes GigaOm, LinkedIn will show you contacts you may have at that company). Instead, it seems, it's really just a glorified resume-submission tool. By increasing the volume of applications—by making it easier for job hunters to use the "spray-and-pray" approach that so rarely works anyway—"Apply with LinkedIn" may only make slush piles even slushier.

LinkedIn's IPO filings show that "hiring solutions" account for 43% of the company's revenue, so it makes sense for LinkedIn to try to grow that aspect of the site. But if LinkedIn wants to become a truly innovative force in hiring, it ought to focus on leveraging its data to make connections that otherwise wouldn't be made. If it's going to increase the haystack of job applications, it needs to help HR people spot that single needle that's going to get the job done. LinkedIn could also get into the business of crunching its massive troves of data to form connections between employers and potential employees that an HR staff could never manage with limited manpower.

If LinkedIn wants to earn its soaring share price in the wake of its IPO, it will need to do a few things. First, it needs to win the international market—and widgets, plug-ins, and buttons aren't the key here (cultural sensitivity, among other things, is more important). Second, it may need to genuinely disrupt the HR industry. "Apply with LinkedIn," while undoubtedly useful to some, won't be that killer app.

LinkedIn needs to do more than put job boards out of business. It needs to put head hunters out of business.

[Image: Flickr user SOCIALisBETTER]

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Email David Zax, the author of this post, or follow him on Twitter.

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9 Comments

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  • David Kimmelman

    LinkedIn is all about connections and networking. More and more jobseekers are learning to research their possible connections into a company through LI, FB etc before even thinking about submitting a resume so I'm not sure I believe that this button
    will be a huge success. It may have some initial success, but the more
    sophisticated users become, the less useful this will be.

  • Mark John

    It actually helps me to discover pleasant and valuable information.
    Social media is the best way to get valuable information.

  • gordon hill

    David excellent article, but lets remember that in days social networking is probably the one place that can help you to get a job, and linkedIn came with a small piece and was grown by the people.

  • Jeff Weidner

    Robert. Totally agree. I doubt David Zax has a clue as to how much revenue either of those two industries produce. Additionally, Linkedin was built in large part by recruiters, and their main revenue stream comes from posting jobs and selling search licenses to the membership database. (hmm smells like a job board to me) I can see Linkedin taking down a job board or two especially if they can get the quality of information on the site better for it's members and can mass appeal internationally.. And that is the real impetus behind this new release. Linkedin has struggles with user engagement. The average facebook user logs in 1-2 times a day and when they do the are active, there's lots of stuff to do. the average Linkedin user logs in once every 2-3 weeks. I mean there's only so many times people want to rewrite their resume, which is the main draw for Linkedin. To be seen and be found. But even when LI users log in they delete their inmails and then move on not a whole lot for them to do there. OK OK there is the Q&A section, there are groups but other than that not much else...

  • Stephanie Weirich

    LinkedIn's new Apply function is a good tool and will make it easier for *some* people to apply to jobs. However, you're right in that it won't make things easier on HR or candidates who aren't on LinkedIn.

    The key is to not force candidates to choose an application format. Don’t make them create a LinkedIn profile to apply for a job. Whatever form their resume is in, let them select that form to use as they apply. It could be LinkedIn, a Facebook or Google profile, or an electronic resume.

    The key for recruiters is to make sure you capture all candidate information in any format. LinkedIn is a static source limited to what information is provided by candidates. Recruiters need a living resume that constantly updates with new information available on candidates, without relying on the candidate to update the information.

    For HR IT departments,  they need to ensure candidate information is automatically integrated  into applicant tracking systems.

    We believe "Apply with Your LinkedIn Profile" is only the beginning… http://www.talenttech.com/blog...

  • Robert Stanton

    Excellent article until the last comment. "LinkedIn needs to do more than put job boards out of business. It needs to put head hunters out of business." Really? An app that would eliminate the search industry. How silly.