Can The New LinkedIn “Apply” App Help You Find a Career?

According to GigaOM’s exclusive scoop on June 1 LinkedIn is launching a job application tool later this month called “Apply with LinkedIn”. This app will allow job seekers to apply for a job using the work history they’ve accumulated about themselves on LinkedIn in place of a traditional resume. This is a bit of a divergence for LinkedIn being that they’re known more for bringing people together in a networking format rather than for being a job recruiter, however, with all the information LinkedIn accrues on professionals, it only makes sense to use that data to help people find jobs.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you find a position on a company’s website or job board to which you wish to apply. To get started you simply click on the plug-in button labeled “Apply with LinkedIn”. At that point the LinkedIn app allows you to modify or customize your LinkedIn data, as well as answer some specific checkbox questions the employer may have optionally posted. After you’re satisfied with your changes you click on the “Submit application” button and your LinkedIn resume is sent to the employer. Once your application is received you’ll receive an confirmation message, plus (and this is the best part) you’ll then be notified of any other job openings at the company, as well as given a list of your LinkedIn contacts who are associated with the company to which you just applied. It’s kind of a new viral way of looking for a job.

The key is for LinkedIn to get companies to participate, which shouldn’t be hard, since a big feature from the employer’s standpoint is that LinkedIn will group job seekers together by data. For example, an employer can bundle resumes from all applicants from a certain part of the country, or who have a specific technical skill, or who speak multiple languages. The employer obtains this information by including up to five checkbox questions from a template as part of the application process. For more company-specific information the employer can include several customized questions as part of the application. This technology allows the employer to sort through resumes faster and more efficiently, thus making sure that no qualified applicant is overlooked.

Some have speculated that allowing companies to put the “Apply” app on their own company websites will circumvent recruiters and thus put direct hiring back into the hands of the employers. While this may be true in some cases, larger companies (along the lines of Microsoft, Intel, Apple, etc.) will more likely continue using headhunters to narrow the field of applicants they actually interview. What it will do, however, is make it easier for people to apply for jobs, thus putting a greater burden on HR departments and recruiting companies to slog through the piles of resumes they receive. So I don’t think hiring professionals will be going away any time soon as a result of this app.

From a marketing perspective, LinkedIn is banking on the hope that this their “Apply” app will increase its user market share to rival that of Facebook or Twitter. If companies jump on board (in large numbers, as LinkedIn expects) then it will require people to sign up on LinkedIn to even be eligible to apply for certain jobs. It’s still unclear if LinkedIn will require companies to be exclusive with them in terms of job offerings, but even if they aren’t LinkedIn still stands to gain a whole lot more visibility online.

So what does that mean for you, the user? It’s too soon to tell if LinkedIn’s “Apply” app will take off, but there’s no reason at this point to think that it won’t. So if you’re not already on LinkedIn, it would make sense to sign up now (it’s free) and get your profile up-to-date. And even if you are already a member of the LinkedIn community, now would be a good time to figure out how to navigate the system and increase your connections. Given that this new app is scheduled to be in effect by the end of the month, you want to make sure you’re right there in the front of the line to use it. Because when you’re looking for a in today’s market job, every advantage helps.

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