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To Pay Or Not To Pay?: Which LinkedIn Account is Best For You

LinkedIn Account

Have you considered upgrading your LinkedIn account but aren’t sure which account to choose? Or perhaps you’ve pondered which is the best value for money when compared to the other LinkedIn accounts available? Let us explain the features and benefits of each type of LinkedIn account, from LinkedIn Basic (free), right up to the most expensive LinkedIn account out there, LinkedIn Recruiter.

LinkedIn Basic (Free)

Benefits of a Free LinkedIn Account

So first things first, what’s wrong with using a free account as a recruiter? Absolutely nothing.

You are not at any strategic disadvantage in finding potential talent by using a free LinkedIn Account rather than using a paid LinkedIn account. When you use Advanced Search on a free account you are LinkedIn Advanced Search | Linkedin Accountsearching through exactly the same pool of people as you would using a paid account. Try it yourself – plug in some keywords and run a search side by side with a free account and a top-end Recruiter account you will see exactly the same number of results. The most useful of all LinkedIn’s search filters are available to you on a free account (the Premium search filters are notoriously unreliable), and even though you’re only able to view 100 search results compared to the 1000 or so results certain paid accounts let you view, NO ONE should be looking at more than 100 results (and if you are, you’re not filtering and prioritising correctly).

With a free LinkedIn account, you still have access to:

  • Participate in and own LinkedIn groups,
  • Use the Apply with LinkedIn API,
  • Create and manage a LinkedIn Company Page,
  • Build your LinkedIn network by connecting with other professionals on LinkedIn,
  • Search for jobs,
  • Access the LinkedIn Pulse news bulletin platform,
  • Just about everything else of use on LinkedIn.

But while it is possible to get good (even amazing) results from LinkedIn just using a free account, there are a number of limitations associated with free accounts that we need to point out before you get too carried away with the possibilities of a freebie.

Limitations of a Free LinkedIn Account

  • 3rd Degree Names | LinkedIn AccountCan’t See Full Names or Full Profiles outside your network

On a free LinkedIn account, you will be restricted from seeing the full names of third degree connections (connections of your connections), or their full profile. Neither will you be shown the name or profile of LinkedIn users that are completely outside of your network (instead showing up as the mysterious “LinkedIn Member”). As you build a large but focused network of potential candidates in your target market, you won’t come up against this too often, but when you do, there are several ways to reveal those profiles (I’m talking 5 seconds work, not a few minutes), but you need to be a Black Belt in Internet Recruitment to know that!

  • No InMails

Free accounts are not given any InMails with which to contact LinkedIn members they’re not directly connected to. However, even if InMails were free, we would recommend that you avoid using them anyway. Five years ago they provided a unique way to approach candidates, these days they’re more like spam. However, sometimes you won’t be able to think of a better away or find a faster route to contact a candidate, so it’s always good to have a few InMails in the bag. A paid account will give you some to play with.

  • Who Viewed Your Profile | LinkedIn AccountNo Analytics

Free accounts provide no proper analytics regarding Who’s Viewed Your Profile, which is quite a useful feature if you’re a recruiter. After you’ve run a search and looked at loads of profiles, it’s great to know who’s looking back at your profile, as these people make great leads.

There are lots more reasons, but we think it’s safe to say that if you are using LinkedIn to make hires (which 99% of you are) there are benefits to becoming a Premium member of LinkedIn. Why? Well, if you’re using LinkedIn to hire talent day in, day out and doing so by performing possible (but often convoluted) tricks, then the sensible, time-saving thing to do is to bite the bullet and get a paid account. But which paid account? Let’s take a look at the options.

Paid LinkedIn Accounts

There are approximately 30 different paid account options available to spend your hard earned money on when it comes to paid LinkedIn profiles, but those 30 different options essentially fall into 4 main categories:

  • Sales Professionals (Free, Business Plus, Sales Executive, Sales Pro)
  • LinkedIn Premium (Free, Business Plus, Executive, Pro)
  • Recruitment (Free, Business Plus, Recruiter Lite, Recruiter Corporate)
  • Job Seekers (Free, Business Plus)

As a Recruiter or HR professional, you can pretty much ignore the Job Seekers and Sales Professionals categories. So which out of the two remaining accounts should you be paying for?

Paid LinkedIn Options | LinkedIn Account

LinkedIn Business (£12.95 per month)

This type of paid account may be all you need as a Recruiter using LinkedIn, because essentially the little bit of extra functionality you get with the bare minimum of paid accounts is more than enough. Being thrifty is by no means a disadvantage against the most flush of recruiters with more money than sense!

The Real Benefits of a LinkedIn Business paid account

  • Having 3 InMails in your back pocket for when you absolutely need them
  • Joining the OpenLink network (anyone can send you a message on LinkedIn, including candidates with small networks)
  • Who Viewed Your Profile – full list of people who viewed your profile in the last 90 days
  • Being able to view more pages of results (quite handy)
  • Reference Search – get a list of people in your network who may be able to provide a reference on a fellow LinkedIn Member. (Quite handy too).

With this in mind, how much would you really gain in productivity if you went for the all-singing, all-dancing LinkedIn Recruiter account?

Our CEO Johnny Campbell has gone on the record and said: “I really like LinkedIn’s product. It has changed the face of the recruitment industry and every single recruiter I know uses it, and rightly so. I do have a problem, however, with how they price their product and how they fall short of telling their own customers how best to use the system. It’s not that I have a problem paying for a tool, I just won’t pay for premium features that I don’t need and I won’t pay an extraordinary premium for features that do not provide an extraordinary benefit.”

LinkedIn Recruiter (& LinkedIn Recruiter Lite, formerly “Talent Pro”) £499.95 per month

Benefits of LinkedIn Recruiter Corporate & LinkedIn Recruiter Lite

  • 3rd Degree Last Names

If you have a strong, relevant network and use email tools like Rapportive or the Outlook Social Connector to ensure that you are always connecting with people whom you transact with, then you’re not going to see too many missing last names or come across many “Private” profiles. However, if you’re just starting out or are getting into a new market segment, it might be worth upgrading to a Recruiter account to see all of these profiles outside of your network. Our Black Belt training shows you how to see all these missing last names (and the Private LinkedIn Member profiles) and there are plenty of other resources that can do the same, so we don’t think there is massive value to it. But it’s there, and it is a useful asset. It just depends how much budget you have to spend and what else you might be foregoing to have this feature. £499.95 ($699) per month per recruiter is quite steep!

  • LinkedIn InMails | LinkedIn AccountMore InMails & Analytics

LinkedIn Recruiter gives you 50 InMails per month, which you can share amongst others in your team also on the Recruiter account. They enable you to collect a bunch of LinkedIn profiles of members you would like to contact regarding a vacancy, and send them a template-built email where it mail-merges their name and company. This is the laziest thing a recruiter could ever do, in our distinguished opinion.

If a potentially great candidate is worth reaching out to, it is worth taking the time to personalise that approach and selecting a more unique method of first contact. The two top LinkedIn Recruiter accounts do seem to be priced according to the number of InMails they award you (Recruiter Lite offer 25, while Recruiter Corporate offers 50). 3 per month is plenty. 5 if you really want to go crazy (don’t forget 3 InMails is actually 3 responses, not 3 outbound messages – recipients have a week to respond before the InMail is refunded as unresponded-to).

You can also avail of LinkedIn’s powerful InMail Analytics which are extremely useful for showing you how your outbound InMails are performing, allowing you to adjust and measure the change over your own InMails or your whole team’s.

Paid LinkedIn Account

  • Workflows and ATS Integration

LinkedIn Recruiter enables you to work as part of a team when viewing LinkedIn Profiles, save notes on profiles, and create workflows and projects to manage your recruitment needs in one place. LinkedIn Recruiter also integrates with the vast majority of ATS systems.

  • Careers Tab | LinkedIn AccountA Careers Tab on your LinkedIn Company Page

With a LinkedIn Recruiter account, you get an extra tab on your company’s page on LinkedIn for Careers, where you can list all of your current vacancies and include testimonials from employees, videos and other branding information.

  • Company Page follower search

Great-fit candidates who probably don’t need convincing to come and work for you are often followers of your LinkedIn Company page – with the LinkedIn Recruiter account, you get to search your LinkedIn company page followers for keywords that match your hiring needs, and start with engaged prospects before having to move on to cold leads.

  • Great for Graduate Recruiters

LinkedIn Recruiter lets you search for people by the date they graduated from university. An element that is practically  essential for anyone involved in graduate recruitment.

Paid LinkedIn Account

However, the real ‘trick’ to using LinkedIn is NOT getting access to hidden parts of the system for free or paying to see them, it is knowing:

  • baby-scratching-headhow to search effectively
  • knowing how to prioritise your results
  • knowing what do do AFTER you have found the perfect candidate!

Not even the most expensive LinkedIn Recruiter account can help you in any of these three areas. You have to put your recruiting/sourcing skills to work for that part.

Essentially, there’s no simple answer as to which of the 3 paid Recruiter accounts you should choose – that’s up to you and your budget. Our advice is to maximise your usage of the cheapest Business Plus account before splurging on a more expense offering when the benefits may not be that much better (in other words, use it like you stole it). Just make sure that if you are paying for a premium LinkedIn account that you are using the features that are truly valuable and not available on a less expensive version, otherwise it might be wise (and easier on your pocket) to downgrade.

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