One of LinkedIn’s best friends for job seekers is the Job Seeker Premium Account. Introduced in April last year, it was specifically created for candidates looking to get the edge over others in this competitive market. The cost starts at $19.95 per month (and up, depending on the plan you need), which may seem like a lot, especially if you’re unemployed — but you may find it worth the investment if you’ve been job-seeking for a while or want to shorten your transition time.

If you like the Premium Account features I describe below, but the fee just isn’t in your budget, I’ll show you how to get similar results for free.

Increase your visibility

At the top of job seekers’ wish lists is the desire to be noticed or discovered. Most candidates complain that they aren’t acknowledged when they send their resumes to human resources departments. Since more companies and recruiters are using LinkedIn as their default recruiting tool these days, the premium account becomes valuable because it displays your name at the top of search results, above other non-premium LikedIn members. (Think about how businesses spend thousands of dollars per year on search engine optimization for Google; they know how important it is to increase their odds of getting clicked on.)

Another great feature the premium account gives you is an optional Job Seeker Badge you can use to showcase your availability to employers.

How can you do the above for free?
Research the top-searched industry keywords and include them in your online profile. While LinkedIn might not display you first in the search results, this will ensure that your name comes up when recruiters are looking for your skill set. You can also indicate your availability as an applicant in the status update feature on LinkedIn. It’s less than ideal, but it can encourage a recruiter to contact you.

Connect with ease

I’ve written in the past that when you see a job opening, it’s in your interest to reach out to someone at the company before submitting your resume. This allows you to find out more about the job than what’s found on the job description. It also pre-establishes a relationship between you and the employer, therefore increasing your odds of being reviewed as a possible applicant.

The challenge many of us will face is that we won’t know anyone at the prospective company or anyone who can introduce us to the company. That’s where InMail comes in. With InMail, which becomes available to you with the Premium Account, you can contact anyone with a LinkedIn account. The cost is typically $10 per InMail, though different Premium Account levels are allotted a certain number of InMails each month. LinkedIn believes in the power of InMail so much, they’re willing to refund your fee or credit you if you don’t get a response from your InMail within seven days. The reason InMail usually gets a response is that it doesn’t end up in the “spam folder” of the recipient’s e-mail.

The other reason is that the recipient can click on your profile and see your picture, number of connections, recommendations and your background, therefore increasing their willingness to respond to you. (That’s why it’s so important to have a complete profile before you attempt to contact strangers on LinkedIn.)

How can you do the above for free?
In lieu of InMail, you can reach out to someone you don’t know for free by joining a LinkedIn group that person is a member of. By default, group members can contact each other for free.

(In two cases, the above recommendation won’t work: 1. The person isn’t a member of any open groups you can join. 2. The person has turned off the default group contact options. In this case, your best bet is to make contact the old-fashioned way: Call the company and ask to speak to the person directly.)

Make yourself accessible

Another challenge you may face as a job seeker is that recruiters can’t contact you with ease. If they aren’t already connected to you, they have to use an InMail feature, which may cost them $10. Over time, this can get expensive for them and you run the risk that they’ll go first to someone they can contact for free.

With the Job Seeker Premium Account, LinkedIn gives you a feature called OpenLink. OpenLink allows anyone to contact you for free, increasing your odds of recruiters or hiring managers reaching out to you.

How can you do the above for free?
Instead of OpenLink, add a Twitter or blog profile to your account. Recruiters can click on those to find your contact information. Another way is to include your resume (with contact info) with a Box.net application on your LinkedIn profile. The third way, as we discussed above, is to join groups your industry recruiters are also members of. Finally, increase your network size so it’s large enough that recruiters can leverage your mutual contacts to request an introduction to you.

Live Seminars in December

The Career Search Excellence seminar is packed with only the hottest tips and tricks for professionals seeking a new opportunity – giving you a competitive edge over the competition. The seminar is free (sponsored) and there are three dates to choose from in December.
  • December 5 (Bellevue, WA)
  • December 8 (Bellevue, WA)
  • December 10 (Bellevue, WA)
Register Now (It's free.)
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