I’m sure we ask ourselves these questions all the time. Are paid upgrades to our free social networking accounts worth the price? That’s the question from this HR Bartender reader:
Hi there. You were so helpful with a comment I posted a few months back I thought I would serve up another question. LinkedIn account upgrades: worth the money? I am a job seeker and have been keeping an eye on LinkedIn jobs but feel like my application gets lost in the shuffle. Have you heard any industry insights on whether this is beneficial for the job seeker and/or recruiter? Thanks!
If you’re wondering what you get with an upgraded LinkedIn account, you can check it out here. That being said, I don’t have a premium LinkedIn account. And that’s not because upgrades aren’t worth paying for. It’s because of the reasons I use LinkedIn. But to only give you one POV on this question didn’t seem fair. So I reached out to some of my colleagues who use LinkedIn to hear their thoughts.
For recruiters? Yes. With that I am not saying automatically sign up for a corporate recruiter account if it would cause a strain on your recruiting budget, particularly if you are in a small company. But consider the TalentFinder option – you won’t have the complete set of keys to the kingdom but you will have a huge view into the millions of profiles on the system.
With that, as a recruiter who is using LinkedIn as a source, you need to also commit to building your network so your views into 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree connections are more expansive. This makes some HR Pro’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t make sense for everyone in your HR department, but your recruiters and sourcers should be aggressive in this regard.
And, the final comment on this is that it never hurts to continue to search LinkedIn’s public profiles using Google or Bing. I have some names crossover when I do this and also search LinkedIn internally, but normally I generate lists using the internal and external search features that are complementary, and this does relate back to the number of profiles you can view from the internal site and the pages being indexed and served up by search engines.
For JobSeekers? I’m on the fence on this one. I think their goal is to get “seen” and from what I’m viewing on the LinkedIn system, I’m not sure anything is done to enhance that. Sure they can get a cute little suitcase icon next to their name but I’m not certain they are being pushed to the top of the results of any recruiters search. So maybe their time is better invested in building a strong profile, including an email for easy contact (as opposed to using the inmail system), connecting to alumni from past companies and schools, and joining groups related to their industry and profession. You know it’s still possible to search for jobs on Indeed and using the “more” button, find people in your LinkedIn network connected to the company that you can approach for a referral.
For job seekers, my resounding answer is, “No”. It’s just not necessary. Are there benefits to having a paid account? Sure, there’s advantages to paying for anything in life and LinkedIn is no exception. But the average job seeker is unlikely to really capitalize properly on those paid benefits. They’d be able to accomplish similar results by joining appropriate LinkedIn groups and writing 1st level connections requesting 2nd level introductions.
Writing your 1st level connections and requesting they forward a profile is different than using the “request an introduction” feature. You can send unlimited inmails to 1st level connections. If there’s a 2nd or 3rd level connection you want to be introduced to, send your 1st level connection an inmail with the person’s name (or first name and last initial if a 3rd level connection) and ask that the connection use the “forward your profile” feature to your intended target. Let them know why you’re wanting to network with that person and if they know you/your work then don’t be afraid to ask them to vouch for your expertise!
Nothing in life is free, including looking for a job. There’s enough things you need to pay for already (wardrobe, heavy resume paper, portfolios, etc); no need to add a LinkedIn membership to that list.
For recruiters, does being a paid LinkedIn member have its advantages? Yes. Is it necessary? No, not unless you’re trying to use LinkedIn as your database and even that I’d argue is unnecessary at this point. That said, I do have a first level paid account. I keep it for the search folder feature and because I like being able to have the little icon (vanity, thy name is Crystal; I know, I know…).
Also, I like being able to access the more detailed reporting on who has viewed my profile. This is important to me from a lead generation standpoint and has started several conversations for me – important when you’re a professional networker, as recruiters are.
Finally, it IS nice to have the increase on the number of profiles returned in the search feature. But as someone who started recruiting BEFORE LinkedIn, I still remember how to make a list of companies that are in the geographic area/industry I’m targeting and pick up the phone to find folks… so, that isn’t enough to get me to pay to have a membership.
Bottom line: Do I recommend a paid LinkedIn membership for a recruiting professional? I’m ambivalent. If you’ve got the extra money? It certainly doesn’t hurt and can decrease the amount of time you spend on research – which is good. Do I think you NEED it? If you know some simple x-raying techniques and good, old-fashioned recruiting/sourcing methods, then not quite yet.
For the most part, the typical person doesn’t need a paid LinkedIn account. However it is worth exploring if you’re a recruiter using it daily for search and reachout or a B2B salesperson using it more than 30 minutes a day.
Jim Stroud, director of sourcing and social strategy for Bernard Hodes Group, recommends leveraging what’s available:
For job seekers, I often suggest to take full advantage of their profile by optimizing it to the hilt. For example, a great headline goes a long way to getting a recruiter’s attention. Jobseekers should also leverage “LinkedIn Skills” to find the best keywords that speak to their background and be sure to get as many testimonials as they can. It’s good to sell yourself, but it speaks volumes when others do the praising for you.
And for recruiters, the premium version of LinkedIn is a HUGE timesaver with bells and whistles that you can actually use to increase your productivity. However, if a recruiter is frugal (or just budgetarily restrained), there is a LOT of value that can be gleaned from the free basic version.
As a recruiter, you need the visibility of seeing the first and last names of candidates in a search as well as the ability to reach out to a candidate who is not a first level connection or sharing a group. The additional search fields with the Business and Job Seeker account are useful as well.
A job seeker also needs to see the first and last names of a potential employer or mentor, and the extra introductions are particularly useful as it appears as if the “introducer” is vouching for them. The Profile Organizer is also a useful way to organize your network – first, second and third levels! The Job Seeker can organize your network into (at least) 5 files – which they name, manage, and follow up with.
I still don’t use my paid account that much, but it’s nice to have when I need it. It’s definitely worth the $25 – $30 a month to reach that one right candidate or employer. I cover a lot of this in my article “To Pay or Not to Pay, That is the Question.”
Thanks to Viveka, Jim, Eve, Crystal and Kelly for sharing your experience. You can check out their blogs and websites for more information.
I’m really very happy that I was able to help out by posting the answer to a reader question. That’s what HR Bartender is all about – helping and sharing information. If you have a question, send me a note via the blog contact form.