Applying for jobs—as we all know—can be a cumbersome process. You could easily spend hours manually entering your work history into an online application, uploading a keyword optimized resume, and tracking down the hiring manager’s name for your customized cover letter.
I’m tired just thinking about it!
That’s why that shiny blue “Easy Apply” button you see on job postings on LinkedIn can be so darn alluring. Just one click and I’m done? Sign me up!
Not so fast. As with all quick fixes, the easier option has its drawbacks. Primarily, you’re trading customization for simplicity. When a recruiter receives an “Easy Apply” application, all they see is a snapshot of your LinkedIn profile—namely your photo, headline, past and present job titles, education, and any skills you’ve listed. That’s it! So if your LinkedIn profile isn’t up to date, is very bare-bones, or doesn’t tell your complete career journey, you probably won’t be hearing from prospective employers anytime soon.
So when should you use the “Easy Apply” option?
When Your LinkedIn Profile Is in Top Shape
If you’ve created a dazzling LinkedIn profile full of relevant keywords, rich descriptions of your experience, tangible achievements, and a stellar headline, you’re in a much better place to use the “Easy Apply” button because you’re offering hiring managers a clear picture of how you’re qualified for the role. If your LinkedIn doesn’t check all these boxes, don’t even think about using the “Easy Apply” button until you’ve fully optimized your profile for your job search (this article on the best tips for an amazing LinkedIn profile as a job seeker can help).
But it’s also impossible to capture the full breadth of your experience on your profile (or resume, for that matter—hence why you should always tailor it to the job) so keep in mind that you’ll still run into opportunities when “easy applying” won’t make sense. In short, only use the button when your profile is a strong match to the job requirements, and opt for a general application when it’s not.
When It’s Not Your Dream Job
As you casually peruse the latest job postings on LinkedIn, you find an opportunity that sounds interesting. Sure, it’s not your dream job, but you wouldn’t mind learning more about the company.
In this scenario, the easy option might be the way to go so you can focus your energies on applying to jobs you really want while still broadening your reach.
If you hear back, that’s great! If not, that’s fine, too, because you know it’s not a role you actually wanted that badly. Just understand that by using this button, you’re a lot less likely to get a response—so think wisely about whether or not it’s worth the risk.
And please, please don’t rely on the “Easy Apply” button if you’ve found your dream job at your ideal company. If you’re jumping-out-of-your-skin excited about an opening, you should set aside time to create a tailored resume and draft a killer cover letter—and reach out to the hiring manager or another networking contact who works there for that personal touch.
When You’re Planning to Attach a Customized Resume, Too
LinkedIn allows you to attach additional documents to your application, so if you have a tailored resume ready to go (or you can whip one up real quick), the “Easy Apply” button may be a great option.
Keep in mind that your LinkedIn profile will be the first thing a recruiter sees when receiving your application, so you’ll still want to make sure that part’s up to date. If your profile doesn’t look great, the hiring manager may not even bother opening your beautifully written resume.
When You’re Not Making a Major Career Pivot
Chances are if you’re planning to make a big career change, a lot of thought went into your decision. Maybe you’ve always harbored a secret fascination with robotics, maybe a chance encounter with an inspiring author made you realize you’re meant to be a writer, or maybe you’ve been diligently assembling an arsenal of leadership skills with the hopes of stepping into a management role. Whatever you have in mind, there’s simply no way that a LinkedIn profile can accurately tell the story of your career journey.
That type of job search requires a different set of tools (like an engaging cover letter), and sadly, the “Easy Apply” button won’t do it for you (maybe someday—that would be incredible).
When You Just Don’t Have the Time
Sometimes you’re working 16-hour days or so overloaded in your life that you can barely focus on your much-needed job search. If you’re pressed for time and know that you won’t be able to tailor a resume or complete an arduous online application before the job posting disappears (which happens all too often), the easy button might be your only option. And that’s perfectly fine in certain instances.
However, it’s always safer to take the extra time to fill out a complete application when life calms down and you’re not strapped for resources.
When It’s Worked for You in the Past
Applying for jobs is never going to be an exact science, so your search will likely include some trial and error. If you’re tempted to use the “Easy Apply” option, give it a try for one or two jobs and make a note of whether it yields any interviews. Hearing back from recruiters is always a good sign that you’re doing something right.
Conversely, if you rarely or never hear back when you use the easy button, it may not be the right tool for you and it’s probably worth pursuing other options, whether that’s applying directly on the company website or doing some networking.
While it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution for every application you submit, clicking “Easy Apply” can be a fine option, depending on the circumstances. That said, nothing will ever beat a tailored resume, customized cover letter, or personal referral—statistically, it’s just the best option.
Photo of person thinking on laptop courtesy of damircudic/Getty Images.
Jaclyn Westlake worked as an agency recruiter and an HR manager in the startup, tech, and finance space for nearly 10 years before branching out into resume writing, freelance recruiting, and career advising. These days, you can find her sharing job search insights on The Muse and blogging about boat life on The Wife Aquatic. She's also an avid paddleboarder, proud plant-based eater, and doting dog mom to a 10-year old dachshund mix named Indiana Jones.More from this Author