As a college student, you have likely already heard that LinkedIn offers dozens of benefits for job seekers. In fact, your college or university career services department may offer information about how to take advantage of LinkedIn because it is an essential resource for professionals.
It is for good reason. LinkedIn offers a huge online professional network with millions of members to find internships, jobs, industry knowledge, build relationships, and learn skills for the professional world.
But here is a dilemma: How should you apply for a job? Is it better to apply on LinkedIn or company websites? It is an important decision in the job search and application process. This article will break down the common misconceptions about each platform and outline the pros and cons of applying on each one.
Can You Apply for a Job on LinkedIn?
So, you know you can search job postings, but can you apply for positions directly through the LinkedIn platform?
Yes, you can!
Currently, LinkedIn offers an “Easy Apply” button for certain job listings. It allows you to apply for a job directly on LinkedIn — you do not have to leave the platform. You can even submit your LinkedIn profile as part of your LinkedIn Easy Apply application, but you may also have the option to upload a résumé or cover letter. (How easy is that?)
Some companies may even use the platform to communicate with you after you apply, including regarding the status of your application. Therefore, it is important to check back — do not check out right after you apply.
You may wonder, “Does LinkedIn Easy Apply work?” Yes, it does, but recruiters might be inundated with applicants, as we will review in the “cons” section below.
The Pros and Cons of Applying on LinkedIn
As a college student, you do not have a lot of time, between classes, studying, and activities, so we will get right to it. First, let us start with the pros and cons of applying on LinkedIn.
Pros of Applying on LinkedIn
Check out the advantages of applying on LinkedIn:
- Wider visibility: Talk about accessing all the opportunities in the world right at your fingertips. LinkedIn shows all that is available to you — you may have no idea that a certain company is hiring if you do not access LinkedIn. You may even find multiple positions for the same company on LinkedIn! (What a bonanza!)
- Networking opportunities: In addition to applying to jobs, you can also network with employees, alumni, human resources, and supervisors on LinkedIn. Do not be afraid to do so, because that could be your segue into having someone take your application seriously.
- Dynamic résumés: This could be the closest we have gotten in the hiring world to a dynamic résumé. It is the closest thing to a living document because you can update it at will. For example, if you win an award at college, you can add it to your LinkedIn résumé even after you have applied for a job.
- So easy: Can it get easier than simply submitting your LinkedIn profile? We do not think so. Make sure it is perfect and submit!
- Connect with the hiring official: Many LinkedIn job postings now include the hiring official in them so you can send a separate personalized message to stand out from the crowd.
- Can attach your résumé or cover letter: Do not skip the résumé or cover letter if the company requests that you include it! You can also expect that LinkedIn will not “eat” your application like a company’s website might.
Cons of Applying on LinkedIn
What are the drawbacks of applying on LinkedIn? Take a look:
- Everyone is on it: You will not be the only one applying for jobs on LinkedIn. It is a supremely crowded platform, with potentially hundreds of people applying for the same job. Finding ways to stand out might challenge you.
- Lack of customization: The “Easy Apply” button may not allow you to customize and tailor your application to the company. For example, if you have a graphic design portfolio or other samples, you may not have the option to submit it.
- Requires laser focus: If you have internships or other skills not absolutely aligned with the job, you may get overlooked because of all the people applying for the job.
- Potential inefficiencies: Companies have a lot of applications to sift through, so it might take weeks or months for you to hear back! That can spell bad news because you might need a job now.
Despite these cons, you may still wonder, “Should I join LinkedIn?”
The answer is a resounding yes. LinkedIn offers multiple benefits for your career management goals – beyond applying to jobs.
Pros and Cons of Applying on Company Websites
Now, let’s switch gears and consider the benefits and drawbacks of applying on company websites. It is worth noting each pro and con because it can help you decide on the right application method for you. Do not dismiss the importance of considering both!
Advantages of Applying on Company Websites
First, the benefits of applying on company websites:
- Tailored application process: Applying directly on a company’s website means you can tailor your application to the company. For example, you may have more flexibility for submitting a graphic design portfolio.
- More job opportunities: Not all companies pay to have job postings listed on LinkedIn or other job boards when their company website is free.
- Direct connection: There is a benefit of working directly with the company during the application process instead of a third party when trying to get hired. It is like ordering pizza through a friend instead of calling up the pizzeria on your own — things might get garbled in translation.
- Overcoming submission issues: When you apply directly on the company’s website, the company gets your application just how they want it, rather than getting it through that third-party site. Items might be missing or not formatted correctly going through LinkedIn.
- Sidestepping the crowd: You might be able to get the company’s attention by applying on the website, rather than LinkedIn. Any way you can stand out, take advantage of it!
Drawbacks of Applying on Company Websites
Now, let’s explore the limitations of applying through company websites. Here are a few to consider:
- Limited visibility: You cannot see every other company that has job openings when you apply through a company website. LinkedIn will give you more opportunities to see “what else is out there.”
- Potential brand awareness: When you are applying on the company website, you have all the company’s brand information at your fingertips. Applying through LinkedIn can make you feel a bit more at arm’s length from the company.
- More static: The company website application will likely seem more static, rather than dynamic. What do we mean? You can update your LinkedIn profile at any time, meaning that you can change something after you have applied to a company through LinkedIn.
Best Practices for Applying on LinkedIn
When applying on LinkedIn, ensure that you optimize your LinkedIn profile. Put together a compelling profile that will attract recruiters. What do recruiters like to see?
They like to see relevant job experience, keywords that fit the job posting, and recommendations from other individuals on LinkedIn. If you have failed to update your skillset or have neglected to ask for recommendations, you might have a tricky time getting attention on the site. Increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters by using targeted keywords related to the job you seek. Do not forget to highlight your skills and achievements and plug in a professional profile picture instead of the photo of you at your sorority’s Halloween party.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Build your LinkedIn network — you never know who is looking at you on LinkedIn! It could be a perfect match.
- Be proactive and reach out to recruiters. Tailor your message to them to hit those industry buzzwords.
- Join LinkedIn groups. Groups can help you build those relationships!
- Share your work, including pieces you have written, projects you have worked on, and yes, that marketing presentation you led.
- Post updates, engage with others’ content, and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. Recruiters will take note.
What should you put in your “about” section? Glad you asked — it is a common question among college students and even experienced professionals.
- Capture people’s interest. Take note of individuals who have good LinkedIn about sections on their profile — you know who they are. Get people’s attention with a major hook.
- Summarize your work history. Do it in a non-boring way! Showcase your activities and responsibilities, experience and skills.
- Show your characteristics. What do you do well? What skills, qualities, or soft skills do you bring to the table?
- Do not forget the goals. What do you want to achieve or accomplish in your future? How do you want to impact a company?
- Invite people to check out your website. Or invite them to another call to action. What do you want them to do after they view your profile?
Understand how to navigate LinkedIn job applications as well. LinkedIn’s job search feature can help you find job postings targeted at your skills and interest. Consider setting up job alerts to get notifications when potential jobs get posted.
Strategies for Applying on Company Websites
When you apply for jobs on company websites, you may not have as much flexibility, so it is important to go into the process knowing how to stand out.
Customize your résumé and cover letter for specific companies. Read them over before you submit them — multiple times. Do not forget to change the name of the company before you submit your cover letter!
Research the company in depth ahead of time so you can say things like, “I admire how your company recently developed a way to use corn byproducts in clothing. I am interested in becoming a part of that marketing and sustainability awareness campaign for XYZ Company.” Research can come from social media posts, LinkedIn, the company’s website, etc.
Finally, follow the application instructions to the letter. If they ask you to submit your résumé in a Word document, do not submit it as a pdf. Follow the instructions, no matter what!
Is it Better to Apply on a Company Website or LinkedIn?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to when you submit applications. Is it better to apply on LinkedIn or company websites depends on various factors. Both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages.
Ultimately, it depends on your specific goals, the industry you are targeting, and the particular job you are applying for. No matter what, consider a personalized approach and always follow up.
In both situations, a recruiter will get your résumé, look at it, and use the application to judge your qualifications. Therefore, put your effort into carefully ensuring that you have done everything you can to spot-check and polish your LinkedIn profile, résumé, and cover letter.
Strategize Both Approaches
Seriously consider all the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches so you can choose the right one for you.
It is often beneficial to utilize both platforms strategically. Apply on LinkedIn to enhance your visibility and network, but also consider direct applications on company websites when you want to customize your application for a specific role. The key is to adopt a well-rounded approach that aligns with your overall job search strategy and specific personal factors.
Spend some time looking through LinkedIn, note great LinkedIn company pages and individual pages that get many views and “likes.” What is it about them that shines? Try to emulate that quality in your profile but make it your own.
Finally, do not forget to utilize your career services department at your college or university and Campus to Career Crossroads. We will help you through each process, step by step, especially when deciding if it is better to apply on LinkedIn or company websites. And you know what? What works for one person may not be right for another individual. We will discuss the exact process that makes sense for your career or industry. Email or call today for more information about how to get the job and more.