LinkedIn: Should a job seeker pay for an upgraded version?

My spring was filled with many LinkedIn activities that kept me too busy to blog until now. It started with a LinkedIn workshop with my colleague Shahrzad Arasteh (We do this every few months in Annapolis. The next LinkedIn workshop is on the morning of Saturday, July 13 and we will definitely be sharing information on the recent changes to LinkedIn). In April, I was honored to speak at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their 7th Annual Fellow’s Retreat for the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID). And finally, I was asked to write a journal article about LinkedIn for the summer issue of a career counseling journal.

 

PaulaNIAID-001-300x200

Paula Brand speaking at NIAID’s 7th Annual Fellow’s Retreat

Of the many times I teach about LinkedIn, there is one question that comes up the most. This post is devoted to that question: Should I pay to upgrade my LinkedIn Account? The answer depends on your purpose, but for the most part I would say no. If you are a recruiter: yes it’s worth every penny. If you are a business owner marketing your products: this can be a great way to reach potential customers. If you are a job seeker, I say save your money and read on.

Anyone can open a basic account for free. All of the techniques and features I share in workshops are based on the free account. There are benefits of upgrading but for most of us, they are unnecessary. The main advantages of upgrading are the ability to send InMails (InMails allow you to send a message to anyone in the LinkedIn community, regardless of having any other connection to them) and more powerful search options to find people. There are other smaller benefits but those are the big ones.

You could wait to be offered a free trial of the upgrade. I regularly get solicited for a free month of the various upgrade services packages. At times, I have been tempted to test these out. However, the deal is that you must agree to be automatically billed, and then you will be given the discount after the fact. Also, you will have to go through the task of cancelling if you don’t want to continue. I don’t like those types of arrangements so I have begged off for now.

The bottom line is that if you are in job search, there are plenty of things you can do on LinkedIn that cost you nothing and there are probably more urgent needs for your hard earned money. For free, you can:

1) Create a keyword rich profile that will attract recruiters and HR professionals.
2) Join and interact in groups to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
3) Connect with people in your field to network into the hidden job market.
4) Search for jobs posted only on LinkedIn.
5) Research your target companies on LinkedIn to gain insights, to prepare for an interview and to learn more about the culture of an organization.

Most job seekers need to spend their money on more pressing needs. So before you decide to shell out the money to upgrade thinking that this will be the silver bullet to get yourself hired (by the way there is no silver bullet for landing a job – it takes hard work and a lot of networking!) ask yourself how much you are taking advantage of all of the free features you can use today without breaking your bank account.