I recently posted about LinkedIn and how I use it; I recently was the recipient of a FREE month’s worth of LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium, and this post is about my experience with that. (NB: I am not paid by, or influenced by, anyone at LinkedIn, save possibly Daniel Tunkelang, who is their Head of Query Understanding and a wicked brilliant person. And no, he didn’t pay me to say that. It’s just that he’s an “influencer” of mine on LinkedIn).
The short of it is my free Premium Membership ends in four days and when it does I will let it end (or more accurately, I will proactively kill it). Much like other “free introductions” the feedback loop is a negative one: the assumption is if you don’t actively end it then it continues on, and bills your card appropriately. I am letting it end not because I do not feel it is a good program, but because it is not particularly useful for me.
First, the basics: LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium has a check sheet of the advantages of paid membership here. At $25/month (billed annually, so $300/year) it provides you with the ability to see who’s looked at your profile (the regular free membership shows you a subset), you can see full profiles of people up to 3rd degree, you can leverage LinkedIn’s “In Mail” and receive a bump of introductions, and a few assorted other UI niceties (up to 250 results per search, etc.).
For me the attraction was the ability to see everyone who has looked at my profile, and here’s the rub: it does show you everyone, but only if they want to be seen. For example, if someone has not logged in and/or is surfing anonymously, with Job Seeker Premium you will see an individual, faceless avatar saying “someone” looked at you; you will have no idea who they are. So if 12 total people looked at you and 3 were not logged in and/or were surfing anonymously, you see 9 photos/bios and 3 blank avatars. This is frustrating for someone who wants to inspect the inspectors, but totally understandable from an execution perspective: LI has no idea who you are until you are logged in, so there is no way to let someone else know who you are, either.
Then there’s the fact that I now know that “12” people looked at me, instead of “5”. I also get handy “last 90-day” graphs with informational snippets like “7 viewers had the title of Technology Manager” or “16 viewers work at Microsoft”. I can also parse out how they found me: search, 2nd or 3rd link, etc.
As part of Job Seeker Premium you get a little yellow and white icon in your search results (when people search for you, that is) that indicates you’re on Job Seeker. This should be a very large flag to any potential recruiters that you’re open to inquiry, and the inquiries just come flooding in, don’t they?
In my case, not. I did get one offer of a contract for Salesforce Development (something that is not anywhere on my profile; I have worked with SF developers on getting two Salesforces (Salesforceii?) to talk according to a set of business rules, but haven’t done it myself, thanks) in another state. For someone who has been Manager and above titled, etc. it was an odd request and reaffirms my belief that people don’t actually read.
The other thing that messed with the experience is that I used this opportunity to update my profile and add on consulting work that I have been doing on the side (for about a year) and the recent appointment to a non-profit Board. This generated a bunch of “Congratulate Bobbie on her New Job” notices to those I was linked in to, and when your own best friend emails you to ask about your “new job” it’s time to add a control to the announcement features, methinks.
The rest of the features offered by Job Seeker Premium were unused and I’m not entirely clear how someone looking for a job would actually use them. To wit: as a free member, I can send in-mail to anyone I’m linked to, and can “hack” that by attempting to link to someone I don’t know (e.g., recruiter) and putting my introductory email in that “link to me” email. If I’m looking to get a job, rather than find someone for a job, I don’t know how useful it is for me to see the full profiles of 3rd-level linked people; I’m more interested in the recruiters seeing me. I’m not sure how the ability to see up to 250 people per search is useful, unless the proposition is that I will try to boost my 1st-linked numbers while job searching; even then, if you can’t find someone you worked with or know in the first 100 records then you have to question if they’ll even link to you.
Now, counterpoint and contrariwise: if I were not already gainfully employed (“Congratulate Bobbie on her new old job!”) and were actively networking and really trying to get employed, I would probably pay the $300 and then pay another $200 or so for a professional headshot, and possibly another $150 for a resume analyst. I would probably have a resume for every position type I was qualified for and interested in, and would make sure my LinkedIn profile was carefully agnostic (If you are angling for a Dev Manager job you probably don’t want to over-emphasize your writing skills vs. your coding skills).
This assumes that somehow I had the cash for that (remember it’s good to have a cushion for just-in-case) and have not been unemployed for some time. To that end, if money’s tight, I’d stick with regular LinkedIn at the free level: if someone thinks you’re what they’re looking for, the presence of the little yellow and white “in” icon is not going to further attract, or dissuade, them.