Like most people, I’d rather not pay for something when a free option fulfills my needs. I’ve also found that the adage of “you get what you pay for” is NOT always true. Especially when it comes to web-based services, there are very often free options that are more effective than paid ones… not always, but often. Each service has to be evaluated individually.
So… as I coach people on job search strategies, I’ve always told them that the free LinkedIn account is sufficient for them to get great value from the site and it’s not necessary for them to pay for a premium membership (sorry LinkedIn… but you’ve always offered great tools for free).
Recently, however, I’ve been changing my mind and my advice about that. Consider some observations…
Free accounts are becoming less feature rich
As LinkedIn has grown, become more successful, more of necessity for an increasing number of people, and seeking to maximize it’s own earnings… they have, bit-by-bit taken away features from their Free offering. Most notably, they have made it more difficult to get information about contacts in your first and second tier. They’ve removed last names, they’ve reduced how much of a profile you can see, they’ve reduced your ability to see who has been viewing your profile, they don’t allow free accounts to have OpenLink allowing others to message you for free, and other features along the way as well. Each of these, affects how productive LinkedIn can be when you’re seeking companies and contacts for your job search.
The value becomes worthwhile
The features that make LinkedIn so valuable for a job search are the ability to reach far and wide to find the right people to connect with for networking or pursuing specific jobs. The value gained from many of the formerly free features, are much more likely than ever before to be worth a monthly premium membership fee.
…but NOT the “Job Seekers” plan!
Ironically, I don’t believe their “Job Seekers” plans are the best resource for job seekers. Rather the “Business” plan offers more valuable tools. It enables you to see more names, get more results, more full profiles, and select the OpenLink option. The “Job Seeker” plan does not offer much of those features. Instead it offers the ability to “be put at the top of application lists”. That doesn’t seem as worthwhile to me than the other features would. For the same price on a monthly basis, my opinion is that the “Business” plan offers far greater value.
LinkedIn can hardly be blamed for moving formerly Free features to paid accounts. They’ve created a powerful product that hundreds of millions of people find worthwhile. They should be able to charge for, and be rewarded for what they’ve developed. So while I am sorry to see the Free features go… I believe that the value of LinkedIn has risen to such a great resource for job seekers that paying for the service is now worthwhile.
Do your own research and make your own decision… however, for the first time ever… I’ve been recommending to my job search class participants that they consider spending the fee each month. The results will be worth it!
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About The Author
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.