People frequently ask is LinkedIn Premium worth it? However this weekend I had a conversation with a group of unemployed job seekers who asked whether LinkedIn Premium is effective and even wondered if it was discriminatory.
It is true It’s not a cheap offering and for those who are unemployed or on a low or inconsistent incomes, purchasing a subscription is a significant outlay.
I decided to do some research and failed to come up with anything substantive on my own. And I’m not a novice at digging around. So I then tapped into my network on Twitter reaching out to Katrina Collier, candidate engagement specialist and Andy Foote, LinkedIn expert for their insider knowledge. They in turn called upon Stacy Donovan Zapar, Founder the Talent Agency for additional support.
But let’s start with some basics. What do you get for your money?
LinkedIn Premium offerings
LinkedIn Products offers a variety of services. There are two main options for job seekers:
1. LinkedIn Premium for Job Seekers
The basic model LinkedIn Career allows jobs seekers who are willing (or able) to invest in the service certain privileges. With this subscription you can:
- View who has clicked on your profile over the last 90 days (not just the last 5 people).
- Feature your profile at the top of the recruiter’s applicant lists.
- See how your profile ranks compared to other job seekers.
- Access salary insights when browsing jobs. LinkedIn Salary gives job seekers some insight into salaries, bonuses, and equity data for specific roles.
- Send up to 3 InMail messages per month.
- Entry to LinkedIn Learning video courses
- Access to people outside your network.
- Free trial for one month
- Can pay monthly and stop at any time. As a job seeker there is little value to subscribing for a year.
2. Premium Business
One level up is Premium Business, which offers 15 InMail messages, advanced search filters, unlimited searches in your extended network and additional company data. Premium Business is available at a rate of $47.99 per month if paid for 12 months upfront and $59.99 per month. This reduces the cost of InMail to $4 a pop. Ironically this might be a better bet, even for an impoverished job seeker.
Downsides for job seekers
There are many who support a Premium membership but there do seem to be some downsides or at best unknowns for job seekers.
1. Limited data on success rates
The internet is full of “how to” posts on contacting recruiters and hiring managers using LinkedIn, including email templates and the psychology of communication. What is less forthcoming is the response rate. There are plenty of stats for recruiters and even an analytics function showing the data around mails in terms of content and timing, to allow recruiters to improve their results. But there seems to be nothing much, if anything at all, on the user experience for candidates. This suggests that the results are possibly not that fantastic because if they were, LinkedIn would tell us. Right?
Stacy Donovan Zapar replied in detail. She said via Twitter that she was “Pretty sure that LinkedIn keeps this stuff under wraps.”
Katrina Collier was sceptical that the opening rate was 25% of all InMails. which makes the cost effectiveness low.
Stacy clarified, saying that she had been told that published figures were “25% higher than the year before, not 25% (sic in total) So if the actual response rate was 13%, the new rate was a whopping 16.25%.”
Andy Foote concurred that these numbers would not be widely available. And trust me if they were out there, he would know where to find them. He also points out that it is not widely known that LinkedIn members can set their profiles to be closed to InMail, a systemic weakness which needs to be addressed. I t is also not well publicised that InMails can be declined, which is an even greater waste of money and adds to the frustration.
2. Excludes those with low, inconsistent or no income
This feature heavily favours those with enough discretionary income to invest in the additional payment per month. As far as I know there are no discounts for the unemployed.
Marina is a gig worker in the hospitality and event management sector. “I work at a middle management level. This is how the sector is set up with lots of zero hours contracts and freelance workers. My hours are erratic and can be reduced at short notice. I would struggle to budget for that amount every month.”
3. Featured candidates are not always right or the best
The featured applicant offering on LinkedIn Premium favours those who can afford to pay the monthly fee and in that way is not inclusive. Placing paying members at the top of a recruiters or hiring managers inbox may also not produce the best candidates, just the ones who can afford to pay for the service. It may reveal some gems, but recruiters should and hopefully do scroll further down.
Marina added “I did take advantage of the free month but found I was spammed by recruiters who hadn’t really read my profile who contacted me for much junior roles such as a meet and greet hostess. I would love to see some hard data on how successful InMails really are. I couldn’t benefit from the “who had viewed my profile” option because most were in anonymous mode”
Stacy said “It goes both ways. Candidates reach out to random recruiters constantly, asking them to find them a job. They’re not targeted or specific. And recruiters are guilty of the same thing, blasting candidates indiscriminately & generically. These messages ultimately get ignored.“
1 Apply online
2 Send follow-up email to recruiter and/or hiring mgr to reiterate interest
3 See if you know anyone at company (or someone who knows someone) to make a referral/recommendation
But no random messages to recruiters saying, “Can you help me find a job?”
— 𝚂𝚝𝚊𝚌𝚢 𝙳𝚘𝚗𝚘𝚟𝚊𝚗 𝚉𝚊𝚙𝚊𝚛 (@StacyZapar) March 11, 2019
It could be that LinkedIn Premium is best used for networking and extending your reach outside your own network and asking for insider tips or informational interviews. The functionality of LinkedIn is changing all the time some of the changes are not always for the better.
But it’s worth trialling the free month to do a test run and see what works for you. In terms of value for money the additional outlay for Business Premium might offer the better ROI.
If you are struggling with a career transition – get in touch