Thursday, April 15, 2010

Linkedin Releases Job Seeker Premium - Want to get to the top of the list?

Linkedin just released a suite of premium tools targeted to help job seekers. Good news - they have some truly helpful features ... Bad news - They aren't free. For serious job seekers, I think it's worth the small monthly cost, giving candidates better viability and increased job search efficiency.

Linkedin helps job seekers accomplish two basic tasks - Finding target company contacts, and social branding. Job Seeker Premium makes both of these tasks easier and more effective.

Read more ...

As part of this review, I interviewed Parker Barrile, Director of Product Management for Linkedin's Jobs Business to get Linkedin's views about how their new tools are intended to help candidates. Parker mentioned that Linkedin has 3 major goals in for its premium job search products:
  1. Allow candidates to manage job search more efficiently
  2. Give job seekers more ways to efficiently contact hiring managers and recruiters
  3. Help job seekers stand out, making it easier to be noticed

Parker stated that Linkedin "wants to be the place that people go to find their next job. We'll continue to provide free services, but Linkedin will also offer premium services for those who want greater connectivity and visibility in their search."

From my review of the features and discussion with Parker, I was impressed that Linkedin has made a good start in providing value adds that will help candidates in three areas they pointed out above. Parker also gave hints that this is just a start, and that Linkedin plans to release future user capabilities in its job seekers premium tools (Sadly, he wouldn't spill the beans to tell me what they would be).

Will Linkedin's new tools find you a job? No. Will Linkedin's new tools give you more ways to help yourself find a job? Definitely.

Linkedin offers 7-8 features fine tuned to the needs of job seekers, depending on the package offered. The three that can make the biggest difference are what make the service worthwhile. Other features may be helpful to job seekers as well, but these three are money.

  • Top of the list - This is the #1 reason for Job Seeker Premium, in my opinion. Businesses have been able to buy their way to the top of Google for years. Linkedin Job Seeker Premium allows candidates a way to get to the top of the list. When recruiters or hiring managers search for specific criteria they may get hundreds of results - Premium user results are listed at the top. Since recruiters and HR reps might only call the top 10-20 matches, being at the top of the list helps a job seeker stand out. If you're a Java developer, trying to stand out from the thousands of other Java developers looking for a new position - Top of the list is a huge advantage.
  • InMail - Currently, Linkedin basic users can contact their first level connections. InMail is Linkedin's version of special delivery, allowing candidates to contact any of Linkedin's 60M users - even if they are not a connection. Linkedin's website claims "You’re 30x more likely to get a response to an InMail than to a cold call. Why? Your profile is attached to your message; plus, it never ends up in a spam filter." In addition, it may be challenging to find emails of people you want to reach - InMails make it quick and easy, saving you time. Depending on the premium package you choose you can get zero, five, or ten InMails with guaranteed response - or choose InMails a la carte at an additional $10 each. If you use them, InMails by themselves make the premium service worth while as packages are 1/2 the cost of individually purchased InMails. Use these for people you've just got to reach, or for those who keep their email private.
  • Gold Badge - Linkedin's premium service allows anyone to view your full profile and message you, even if not connected to you without either one burning through expensive InMails or Introductions, allowing unlimited free inbound email. As many new candidates haven't been as active in networking until their job search, having a small network means that few people can see your full profile or contact you freely. While this won't replace building your network, the gold badge gives job seekers with a small network a quick jump start.

  • While these are the most valuable services in the package, additional features can help job seekers as well:

  • Introductions - As a free user, you have a limited number of free introductions that pass your info along through three degrees of separation. Job Seeker Premium gives you between 10 -25 introductions per month depending on the package you choose. Using introductions wisely can help you gain inside information to your target companies, reach hiring managers, informational interview sources, or hubs to help in your networking efforts.
  • Expanded Search - the two top Premium service levels allow you to expand your search results beyond the 100 results you currently get as a free user - expanded up to 5x as many results. This can be valuable when searching within large centralized departments at single locations within enterprise companies. For instance, if you search for project manager at Allstate Insurance, there are thousands of results - free users only see 100.
  • Who searched me? Premium users can see the titles and companies of everyone who initiated a search that your name turned up in. If you've turned up in a recruiter's or company's search, these may be companies you want to put on your target list, or recruiters you might want to work with.
  • Folders - Linkedin premium services allow folders that job seekers can use to save and organize profiles, and store notes. It's not a contact management system, but it gives some capability to add some organization to your contacts.

These features have been needed for a while, and Linkedin has been offering premium services to businesses for over a year. When I first saw notices that Linkedin was offering premium services for job seekers I wondered ... What took them so long? This makes so much sense.

Linkedin premium has 3 packages priced at $19.95, $29.95, and $49.95. If you want the convenience and direct contacts of InMail I'd recommend the more expensive packages (it's an inexpensive way to use InMails). I don't know of any job seekers who couldn't benefit from being at the top of the list, included in even the least expensive package. That alone makes Linkedin Job Seeker Premium worth the price.

Please note: This is not a paid review, and Linkedin did not give me any free services (not even a lousy t-shirt). I wrote it because I think it's a true advance for candidates.

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Related Articles:
Job Seekers - 20 Ways To Brand Yourself On Linkedin
More Control For Job Seekers Over Their Linkedin Profile

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Steve Sherlock said...

Phil, thanks for your insights on this new service. I have been looking at it since it was announced too.

I have two key issues with the offering:

1 - how do you know you really get to the top of the list? And if a job gets posted, someone submits on day 1, someone on day 2, someone on day 3. If the premium person submits on day 3, moving to the top of the list is an advantage but what happens if the company has already started working with the info from 1 and 2?

2 - getting more info on who searched for you is touted for a number of the LinkedIn services but unfortunately is flawed in that each individual sets their own information visibility. So getting more access to folks who have their setting to private is nothing more than you already have today.

As a longtime user of the free version, I appreciate the attention LinkedIn is paying to the job searcher but I fail to see how it is priced for the unemployed to afford to use it.

Maybe there will be some compelling stats to show a better return in a shorter time? Maybe the gold badge will only be bought by those aggressive marketing types who will spoil it for the legitimate seekers? Time will tell!

Keep up the good work sharing this info. The power of "we" is what really drives the network.

Phil Rosenberg said...


Thanks for the comments. You bring up some good points.

Question 1 - I'll forward to Linkedin and try to get answers.

I agree with your point #2, but let's keep in mind a basic conflict that Linkedin has: While their business model is to provide people information about others, they have to allow for privacy options so they don't scare off many users, especially executive-level users. Job Search Permium can't change this basic issue.

As for price, I've got to disagree with you. Linkedin offers these services for $20/month at it's lowest service levels. Even for the unemployed, this is a reasonable cost. The paid service supports all the free services you get - and they've made sure that paid users get a good value. They also give a stronger value package for job searchers than they do for the more expensive business services they offer.

I don't expect to see reliable stats based in fact. I'd have a tough time believing these types of stats as there are so many variables, inputs, and difficulty in collecting fair data.

The gold badge has been available for a long time, as one of Linkedin's first paid services. Until now, gold badge users have primarily been recruiters and marketers. The Job Seeker premium provides similar contact tools so job seekers can market themselves more effectively.

If I was unemployed and looking for a job, I'd use this - so I feel comfortable recommending it to others.

My view is that the Top Of The List function is worth $20/month by itself for job seekers ... the additional services are gravy. It's not intended to be a free service, and $20/month is within reasonable even for the unemployed who need tools to help them find work faster.

Steve Sherlock said...

Phil, thanks for the good discussion. As part of an expanded post on this I just did on my own blog I wrote:

If you know it is raining out, you could be prepared with a raincoat or at least an umbrella. The knowledge can lead to a change in behavior. Knowing it is 90 degree F, you might consider going with a short sleeve shirt instead of a long sleeve and no coat instead of your wool blazer.

So "Someone in the Logistics function in the Defense & Space industry from Greater Boston Area" has searched for you (and this is a recent example from my own profile), how is that going to change your behavior?

If you were behaving inappropriately, you should reconsider period.

If you are behaving consistently within your realm, using your skills and qualifications, then would there be a behavior change?

And if there wouldn't be, is that info enough to pay for? Not in my book.

So let's shift gears a bit and take this on from the hiring managers point of view. You post a job on LinkedIn and obtain a listing of candidates. With this new premium offering, the listing now contains some folks on the top of the listing who have paid to be there? Are they any more qualified? Do they even have the skills required? But they paid to be on top? How much weight will that carry?

Wouldn't it still come down to the trust factor? Will LinkedIn be trusted to provide qualified candidates just because they have paid for a premium account?

Phil Rosenberg said...

Steve - You make some interesting points.

Linkedin's Premium Job Seeker tools don't increase the trust factor for a candidate, nor are they really intended to. It's transparant that this is a paid service, and from Linkedin's graphics the paid results are highlighted in a different color ... similar to paid Google search results.

Will these inspire increased trust? Doubtful, but that's not the intent.

Most hiring managers or recruiters aren't evaluating trust based on an initial search. Trust is more often established via interviews. That's a big reason that hiring managers, HR reps, and recruiters only spend an average 15 seconds making an interview/non-interview decision based on a candidates resume ... or profile.

At this stage of a candidate's search, trust usually isn't the deciding factor to move forward ... yet. Trust is typically established further in the process.

The interview/non-interview decision in most hiring processes is based on 2 primary factors:

1) Which candidates have made it through the decision maker's (or influencer's) prescreening process?

2) Of those candidates that made it through pre-screening, which of those candidates seem to meet minimum hiring criteria?

Linkedin Job Search Premium tools deliver their greatest impact by helping with with the first factor - increasing a candidate's ability to be seen by a hiring manager or influencer.

The ability to be seen is one of the greatest hurdles that candidates face in today's hyper-competitive, digital, pre-screened job market today.

Will Linkedin's new tools deliver the perception of trust? Probably not.

But Linkedin's Job Seeker Premium tools can definitely deliver visibility.

rickyatt said...

For some reason when I go to look at the Jobseeker Premium options on LinkedIn all I see are the standard (old) upgrade options of Business Account, Business Plus, and Pro. I have emailed LinkedIn customer service three times over the last 4 weeks asking for help and can't elicit a response. How does one subscribe to one of the Jobseeker options if it isn't available as an upgrade option???


Phil Rosenberg said...

Rickyatt, As Linkedin has grown, sometimes it's difficult to find what you want - but they have a pretty decent help function. I typed in Job Seeker Premium, and was led to this link that will help you ...