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Applying for a job online can be time-consuming, and the extra hoops candidates often need to jump through can reduce the number of applications recruiters and hiring managers ultimately receive.

In order to streamline the process and increase applicant pools, LinkedIn allows candidates to apply for a job with just a few clicks using its “EasyApply” feature. Rather than copying and pasting resume points and filling out questionnaires, candidates only need to click the little blue EasyApply button, fill out some basic information like their name and e-mail address, upload a resume if they so choose, and click to submit.

While the process is undoubtedly simpler and less time-consuming – not even requiring so much as a cover letter – confusion remains over whether applicants who use it are given the same consideration, how to stand out in this new format, and whether candidates should take advantage of the EasyApply option when it’s provided.

Lydia Laughlin, a senior consultant at Toronto-based career coaching, executive search and career transition firm Feldman Daxon Partners Inc., says the traditional application process is resume-first. Candidates are typically screened by a person or automated candidate-tracking system based on the keywords in their resume, before other application materials – such as cover letters, portfolios and LinkedIn profiles – are considered.

“When it comes to EasyApply, it’s a LinkedIn profile-first process,” she says. “The resume is very much secondary.”

Though the difference can be subtle, this alternative approach has significant implications for job seekers. For example, career counsellors typically recommend tailoring your resume and cover letter for each job opportunity, but it’s much harder to include keywords in a LinkedIn profile that is used to apply for multiple positions.

“You can change up your LinkedIn profile, but you can’t customize it for every role you apply for,” Ms. Laughlin says. “If you’re looking to make a career shift, or if you have a few different [job opportunity] targets, that’s not an optimal time to use EasyApply.”

Ms. Laughlin recommends keeping an up-to-date LinkedIn profile when job searching, no matter how you ultimately apply. Sudden changes to your profile, however, could pose a risk to those who are currently employed and are looking for a change.

“If you’re typically not active on LinkedIn and there’s suddenly a flurry of activity, that sends a red flag to an employer,” warns Amanda Augustine, a career expert for resume-writing service TopResume.

The headline section that comes at the top of LinkedIn profiles is a particularly difficult challenge for those who are currently employed, Ms. Augustine notes. While most list their current employer in that small descriptor at the top of their profile, job seekers are often encouraged to use that section to reflect their future aspirations.

“If suddenly your headline is targeting a role that’s not what you’re doing for us today, that suggests you’re probably looking to leave,” she says.

Ms. Augustine adds that job postings that utilize the EasyApply feature are likely to receive more responses, suggesting that recruiters have less time to consider each one. (More than half a dozen major Canadian employers declined to comment for this story.)

Candidates who want to stand out should consider other ways to submit their application – either by submitting a traditional application or reaching out to hiring managers and other employees – on top of their EasyApply application, Ms. Augustine advises.

“If I found the role on their corporate website or I knew somebody at the company I would 100 per cent submit my application that way as well, and basically cover my bases,” she says. “You can’t do that for every single role, but if it was the job, I would try multiple ways to get my application through and see which one works.”

There are some instances, however, where a LinkedIn-first application has advantages over a traditional resume and cover letter. As a living document on a digital platform, LinkedIn profiles are able to incorporate elements that cannot be included in traditional applications.

“Right under your summary, you can pin certain pieces of content – like your resume, or your personal website, or an article you’ve been featured in – and that’s a prime piece of real estate,” says career strategist, public speaker and writer Chanèle McFarlane. “Especially now in this virtual world, people can add videos, and because we’re interviewing [and] starting jobs virtually, employers can get a sense of your personality even before the interview.”

Ms. McFarlane adds that anyone who utilizes the EasyApply feature should also make sure their profile is up to date, complete with a professional headshot. At the same time, she raises concerns that photographs attached to job applications can result in potential discrimination.

“That has been a primary concern, particularly for people of colour, from the very beginning of LinkedIn,” she says. “There is a high amount of hiring bias and discrimination against people of colour, so it’s tough, but I think especially in this virtual world, there’s such an advantage to having a photo and showing off your personality, because we don’t have the opportunity to connect in person any more.”

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