By Virginia Franco
As LinkedIn membership continues to grow, it also continues to tweak its plans and what each one entails.
From helping my clients leverage LinkedIn to its fullest and successfully land interviews, I’ve learned that choosing between a paid (Premium) or free (Basic) account depends on three factors: your current business needs, your career or job search goals, and your budget.
Here’s a breakdown of LinkedIn’s plan, both free and paid, and some advice on which might work best for you.
The free plan lets you have a complete profile, reach out to friends, those you’d like to include in your network, and even fellow alumni from alma maters. Free account holders are able to request recommendations from those in their network and even provide one in exchange. Lastly, you can search and view profiles of others gratis.
All in all, the free account is functional and will no doubt suit the needs of many professionals. It is, however, lean on some bells and whistles. Here’s a rundown on what you can’t access through a free account:
• Analytic Insight: Limited details about second-degree connections and about those who have reviewed your profile.
• Outreach: Only five introductions requests are available at one time, unlimited IMail (LinkedIn’s direct messaging system) receipt but no ability to send.
• Research: Three saved searches maximum.
Perks Of Premium Accounts
LinkedIn offers two levels of Premium account memberships: Business Plus and Executive. The price of premium accounts vary, and both offer payment installment options. It is more cost effective to pay one time annually for these plans than it is to pay month-per-month. Here are some paid perks:
• Analytic Insight: Paid users get a three-month list of details about who has checked out their profiles and how they found you. You can also track how you rank amongst your connections and “Professionals Like You” (AKA “your competition”).
• Competitive Insight: When you are applying for positions through LinkedIn, you can learn how you stack up against the others, and your application will appear more prominently than free members.
• Research: Paid users receive unlimited profile searches and up to eight filters to customize their company, network and job search research.
• Outreach: You are given between 15-30 InMails to reach out to anyone on LinkedIn.
• Visibility: All paid versions offer the option of choosing for anyone to view your entire profile.
• Free Professional Development: Paid subscribers have free access to Lynda.com, a company with over 5,000 online courses covering professional development topics from business to software to technology and even creative skills — perfect for the user who wants to brush up or learn more.
• Job Seeker Premium Group: Available only to premium or paid members, I’ve seen first-hand the support, advice and insight this group yields to users.
Whether you are frustrated and need to vent, have questions about interviewing or resumes, fellow job seekers, recruiters and career professionals are happy to chime in and share their insight, best practices and lessons learned.
Those concerned about keeping their job search private need not worry. Should you decide to join, your profile will only be visible to other Job Seeker Premium group members and your network will notbe notified.
When considering what account is right for you, ask yourself the following:
1. Do you plan on reaching out to people outside of your network?
2. Would growing your network be beneficial to your career or job search?
3. Is the idea of free, online professional development appealing?
4. Would data and insight about who is checking you out and how you stack up against the competition assist you in a job search?
If the answer to several of these is yes, then the perks of paid membership may be worth considering.