As LinkedIn continues to evolve and the site continues to grow, plans and user offerings are likely to continue evolving to meet the needs of its diverse membership.
In my experience as a Professional Resume and LinkedIn profile writer who has helped 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.
Review and decide for yourself which plan described below works best and aligns with your unique situation. Should you change your mind, LinkedIn allows members to cancel, upgrade or downgrade paid accounts at any time.
The free plan lets you create a complete profile, reconnect and expand your professional network by reaching out to friends of friends, people you’d like to connect with and even alumni from your alma maters.
You can also ask for recommendations from managers, peers and direct reports and even return the favor.
Lastly, you can search and view profiles of other members free of charge.
The free version does, however, come with some limitations. The details you are able to see about 2nd degree connections as well as those who have reviewed your profile are often limited, and you can only request five introductions at one time.
With regards to InMail, LinkedIn’s private or direct messaging system, free subscribers can only receive messages. Additionally, free members can only save three searches (however all saved searches are eligible to receive alerts when profiles appear that meet your pre-determined criteria).
Lastly, with the basic account it is not possible to have a “Premium Profile” where anyone can view your full profile and message you via InMail free of charge.
LinkedIn offers two levels of Premium account membership
- Business Plus and
The monthly fee for premium accounts varies by more than $200 annually, and both offer monthly payment options. In both cases, it is more cost effective to pay one time annually for these plans than it is to pay month-per-month.
Here’s where the plans differ and where they don’t:
REACH: The number of InMails you can send doubles from 15 to 30 when you upgrade to the Executive plan.
SEARCH: Both offer unlimited profile searches, saved searches and filters to apply when searching.
VISIBILITY: All offer the option of choosing for anyone to view your entire profile.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Do you anticipate needing to reach out to non-connections via InMail?
- Could you benefit from a larger professional network?
- Do you expect to need to request formal introductions?
- Would you like the ability to drill down to get details of who is checking out your profile.
If the answer to these is YES – then consider a paid plan to give you your best job search ROI. Making the call on which paid plan works best for you will depend on how many InMails you anticipate using.